Ottoman cuisine is a buried treasure, the heritage of a great empire which lasted for 700 years. It is a synthesis of Central Asian, Anatolian, Middle Eastern and Balkan flavours. Asitane seek to recreate some of these lost recipes from the cookbooks of the Ottoman palaces.
They have consulted a variety of sources – the budget ledgers of the three main palaces kitchens (Topkapi, Edime, Dolmabahce) to look for clues of the ingredients used. Some of the dishes they have in the menu were from palaces menu from as far back as 500 years.
First up, the simple bread.
However, the olive oil with paprika and lentil dip were not simple at all. The lentil dip was spiced with aromatics and the EVOL was spiked with paprika. All these made the simple bread tasted posh.
I order a Turkish starter that wasn’t from the Ottoman period, but it was done in the style of Dolmasi which is a technique passed down from generations.
Dolma (Ottoman Turkish: طوٓلمه) is a family of stuffed dishes common in Mediterranean cuisine and surrounding regions including the Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Common vegetables to stuff include tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, Cabbage rolls, and dishes of stuffed vine leaves are also very popular, and these are sometimes also called sarma. Meat dolmas are generally served warm, often with tahini or avgolemono sauce. Dolmas prepared with olive oil and stuffed with rice are generally served cold with a garlic-yogurt sauce. Stuffed vegetables are also common in Greek cuisine, called gemista, as well as in Italian cuisine, where they are named ripieni (“stuffed”).
Karidesli Kalamar Dolmasi is oven baked whole calamari, stuffed with a blend of rice, pine nuts and currants flavored with cinnamon and fresh mint. TH mix of rice and shrimp was about 50/50 and the end result was a really tender calamari (that’s the tricky part) and yet soft and fluffy rice inside. They nailed it perfectly.
Uskumru Dolmasi, which is a whole mackarel stuffed with currants, pine nuts, and herbs, breaded and fried. The challenge is not to break the structure of the fish while you debone and take out the flesh of the fish, mix it with the rest of the ingredients and then filled it back to the fish.
Discovered from a recipe from 1844, the mackerel dolma was a bit boney. I had tried an even more challenging version that was done with sardines, which had softer bones and the result came out better.
Asitane Restaurant is situated right next to the Chora Museum. If you are visited the museum, make sure you have a lunch break there. Perhaps because of language, the staff did not interact much with you, but they were proficient enough to take your order and understand simple requests. Pricey by Istanbul standard but the quality of the food made up for the price.
Dervişali Mahallesi, Kariye Cami Sk. No:6, 34240 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Tel : +90 212 635 79 97
Date Visited : Nov 2014