Ottoman Empire

9th March 2019

The Ottoman Empire was phenomenally long lived. It existed from the 14th to the early 20th centuries and at its height, under Suleiman the Magnificent, surrounded most of the Mediterranean, Black Sea and the Red Sea. This huge empire also dominated the cuisines of the regions that it conquered – territory that stretched from what is now Hungary through the Balkans and Greece to Georgia in the North East, Armenia, Iraq, Yemen, Eritrea and as far West as Algeria.

Much of the cuisine of former Ottoman territories today is descended from a shared Ottoman cuisine, especially Turkish, but often taking the best of the cuisines of all these countries. The recipes were developed in the palace’s kitchens, often with ingredients from far flung territories, and spread, via the Pashas, to the rest of the Empire. Thus you can see many similarities even today, with dishes such as borek, kofte, feta cheese, kebabs, pilaffs and dolma found in countries as disparate as Hungary and Algeria.

We’re going to cook a supperclub with some very specifically Ottoman dishes, served in the Ottoman court, and also representative dishes from a variety of what was the Ottoman empire. Some of these are “claimed” by many countries – for example, Knafeh is supposedly Palestinian but Iraqis also think of it as an Iraqi dish.

Ottoman dishes:

Imam Bayildi – one of the most classic Ottoman dishes, this translates literally as “the Imam fainted” presumably because he loved it so much. Made from aubergines & other delicious things (v)

Yogurtlu Cop Kebab – this is a beef dish from which you can see the origins of Hungarian goulash

Bamya – an Okra and lamb dish that is now ubiquitous throughout the Middle East, brought by the Ottomans

Bulgaria – Banitsa, an impressive type of spiral borek, the most impressive of all the boreks I’ve ever tried (v)

Greece – Briam, potatoes, courgettes, onions & tomatoes roasted for hours in the oven into a mouth-wateringly tasty dish (v)

Eritrea – Atakilt Wat, a lightly spiced cabbage potato and carrot dish, far more tasty than its simple ingredients belie (v)

Israel/Tunisia/Algeria/Yemen – Shakshuka, peppers cooked till meltingly soft with poached eggs on top (v)

Algeria/Tunisia – Zrodia Mchermla, a cumin spiced cooked carrot salad, slightly sweet and sour (v)

Libya – Ejja, a kind of herby omelette, slightly similar Spanish Tortilla (v)

Iraq – Timman Bagilla – one of the pilaf rice family, cooked with broad beans and dill (v)

Syria/Iraq/Lebanon/Palestine – Fattoush, one of the best salads around (v)

Kurdistan – Lavash bread, made for us locally by an excellent bakery (v)

Palestine/Iraq – Knafeh, a really delicious kind of baklava cheesecake which will be made specially for us by Nisreen, a Palestinian chef from Zaad Dinner Club (check it out!)

Cost will be £45 of which £35 will go direct to MSF. Please mail us with bookings on