Write: Nilgün Tatlı
Rose sherbet, made from beautifully fragrant roses brought specially from Isparta, once crowned meals at palaces and mansions. Today, with rose water, sherbet starter, cream, and similar products made from roses, it continues its legacy.
Isparta and its region exhibit their wealth with their delicious dishes too. Due in part to the suitability of the climate in the region, the various vegetables, fruits, and grains present have enriched the native cuisine. Poppy seeds are the second thing to come to mind on mention of Isparta cuisine. Because grapes and poppies are grown in the region in abundance, olive and poppy oil are used predominantly.
Those coming here and settling down in periods of population exchange, with the richness of the flora, contributed to local awareness of the healthy, naturally growing plants they knew from before. White goosefoot, myrrh, nettle, and endive are the best-known wild herbs.
“Keşkek,” which is made in other regions in Turkey too, is prepared differently in Isparta and its region, containing beef pastrami from the rib and being cooked in wooden stoves for approximately ten hours in crockery.
6 cups water, 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (more or less if desired), 1½ tablespoons rose starter, 1½ tablespoons lemon juice.
To sprinkle: 1 tablespoon lightly roasted pine nuts, 4-5 fresh mint leaves.
Add sugar and rose starter to a glass pitcher. Little by little, add water, mixing constantly, then add lemon juice and refrigerate. Pour in glasses. Sprinkle pine nuts and mint leaves, then serve.
Note: The white parts of the scented roses collected in the rose starter season are cut. After being rubbed thoroughly with citric acid, they are put in glass jars and refrigerated. In both summer and winter, when desired, they are used with their petals. You can also buy dried rose petals from the spice sellers in the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul, boil them once, cool them, and drain to create rose sherbet.
KEŞKEK WITH BEEF PASTRAMI IN CROCKERY (WITH RIB PASTRAMI)
2 cups pudding wheat (coarsely ground), 300 g Turkish beef pastrami, 2 tablespoons butter.
Clean, wash, and drain two cups of wheat one night before, adding seven cups of water, boiling once, and covering, then keep it in a cool place until morning. Grease the crockpot with butter. Line up the pastrami and spread the semi-watery wheat, melted butter, salt, and pepper, then cover. Cook in oven with live wooden flame, and when serving, drizzle hot butter if desired.
Note: In Isparta and its area, ribs with little meat are rubbed with “çemen”—a pungent mixture of spices—in the summer. After being dried in the sun, they are put in cloth bags and hung up in cellars. Used especially in the winter when cooking “keşkek,” this dish is known locally as “rib pastrami.”
1½ cups grape molasses, 3 tablespoons roasted and crushed poppy seeds, 1 tablespoon butter, 3 tablespoons dry-roasted flour.
Add molasses and butter to a Teflon pot. Once the butter has melted and the mixture starts to sizzle, add poppy seeds. Mix well, and after sizzling more, slowly mix in flour. Cook until darkened and remove from heat. Shape with a spoon once it has cooled and serve.
Note: Considering the energy it provides due to being highly calorific, by reducing the amount of flour and adding some crushed walnuts, and then putting it in a jar after cooling, you can spread poppy halvah on your children’s toast at breakfast.
OLIVE OIL TURNIP DISH WITH BLACK-EYED PEAS
1 kg cleaned and diced turnips, 1 cup boiled and drained dried black-eyed peas, 1 finely minced onion, 2 cups hot water, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1½ dessertspoons flour (browned without water), salt and pepper as needed.
Sautee onion in a pot with olive oil. Add turnips and hot water, and cook. Add black-eyed peas. Add more hot water, and then salt and pepper, and cook until turnips soften on low heat. Dilute flour with lemon juice and some water, mix slightly, and pour in the food. Boil once and remove from heat. Serve when cooled.
Note: This dish is also cooked with tomato or pepper paste and ground meat.