Even though tomato was included into Ottoman cuisine towards the end of 18th century, today it has an irreplaceble place in Turkish cuisine.
Although tomatoes were brought from America to Europe at the beginning of the 16th century, it was not until the end of the 18th century that the tomato made its entrance into Ottoman cuisine.
It was for this reason that Ahmet Vefik Pasha called the tomato “European aubergine” in 1876 in his work Lehçe-i Osmani.
In the Turkish dictionary Kâmûs-i Türkî, compiled by Şemsettin Sami in 1901, the tomato is described as “a vegetable that is very watery and has a tart taste; it can be used to add flavor to food as fresh or canned or as paste or pulp. This vegetable, which was brought from America, has become an indispensable part of our cuisine. There is a variety of tomatoes: red tomatoes, tomatoes on the vine, sour tomatoes (tomato puree) and raw green tomatoes which can be used in some dishes.” Tomato puree is defined as a preparation made from tomato juice.
Mehmet Kamil’s 1844 cookbook – the first Turkish cookbook – Melceü’t-Tabbâhîn’de (The Cook’s Sanctuary) includes recipes for fried tomato stew, stuffed tomatoes, tomato pilaff, and tomato salad.
The Turkish word for tomato paste, salça, comes from the Italian salsa. Contemporary Italian cuisine, like Turkish cuisine, is inconceivable without the tomato.
There is a reason why the tomato, which entered European cuisine and then Turkish cuisine, spread so fast and has become indispensable in so many world cuisines.
Professor Kikunae Ikeda, from Tokyo University, discovered that glutamic acid, which is naturally found in some foods, provides a distinctive flavor; he referred to this flavor as “umami,” which means delicious in Japanese.
One of the vegetables that contains the most glutamic acid is the tomato. As the flavor of a dish increases, a person’s stress is reduced and they become happy. It is for this reason that we suggest to anyone who has a fear of flying that they have tomato soup, an unparalleled taste that has come from the Ottoman cuisine to today.
Fried Tomato Stew
750 g lamb (you can use lamb chops) / 8 tomatoes / 2 onions / 50 ml olive oil / 1 tsp. pepper / 1 tsp. red pepper / 1 tsp. salt
Put the oil in a large saucepan, put the meat in and brown both sides. Remove from pan.
Slice the onions and add to the oil.
Grate six of the tomatoes and strain the juice.
Add the meat and spices to the onions, add the tomato juice.
Chop the remaining two tomatoes in large chunks, place on top of the meat mixture. Cook over a low flame for 40 minutes. Serve.
10 tomatoes / 300 g ground meat (not too lean) / 1 cup rice / 2 onions / 50 ml Olive oil / 1 tsp. black pepper / 1 tsp. salt
Slice off the top of the tomato and carefully remove the seeds and most of the pulp.
Finely chop the onions.
Rinse the rice well, drain. Add to the ground meat. Add spices, and mix well.
Stuff the tomato shells with the mix, put them in a sauce pan. Place the tops back on top of the tomato shells.
Add one and a half cups of water, the olive oil and salt.
Cook over a low flame for 30 minutes.
Remove the tomatoes and place in an overproof dish. Add the juices from the pan. Cook at 200° C for 10 minutes. When the tops of the tomatoes have been well-browned, remove and serve.