Ladies' Thighs (Kadın Budu)

A classic example of how the Sultan’s chefs served humor with their delicacies.


1 pound ground lamb
4 ounces cooked rice
1 tablespoon butter
1 onion
1/8 teaspoon each: ground cumin, mint, black pepper, hot pepper, and sweet red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
Handful chopped parsley
2 eggs (beaten)
Sunflower oil


Brown onion in butter and add half of the meat. Stir in rice. Mix the remaining raw meat with parsley, two eggs, and seasonings. Knead in cooked meat and rice. Mold into ovals, flatten, and dip first in flour and then into the beaten eggs. Fry until firm and golden.

Servings: Serves four


“Turkish ravioli” is so popular that some restaurants serve nothing else. This quick version doesn’t require traditional dough preparation.


2 cups plain yogurt
5 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons dried mint
5 ounces ground beef or lamb
1 onion, grated
Salt, pepper
1 package won-ton wrappers (ready made egg-dough squares)
4 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons finely crushed red pepper


Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Mix yogurt, garlic, and one tablespoon mint. Set aside. Mix meat, onion, remaining mint, salt, and pepper. Cut won-ton wrappers into four small squares. Place a pea-size bit of meat in one won-ton square, moisten edges with water, and pinch corners together to make a mantı (small dumpling).

Arrange in a single layer on a baking pan and bake until brown. Remove from oven and boil mantı in broth until soft. Sauté red pepper in butter. Ladle mantı into bowls, top with yogurt, then pepper sauce.

Servings: Serves four

Noah's Pudding (Aşure)

This legendary dessert is said to have originated on Noah’s Ark.


1 cup unhulled wheat 1/2 cup dried chickpeas

1/2 cup dried navy beans 1 grated apple

1 cup sugar or to taste 1/4 cup each: raisins, dried apricots, dried figs

Topping: walnuts, hazelnuts, pomegranate seeds

Boil wheat 20 minutes, drain, wrap in towel, and let sit overnight. Separately soak chickpeas and beans overnight.

The next day, boil the beans and peas. In a separate pot, simmer wheat in enough water to cover the grains. When soft, manually mash wheat into paste without draining water. Add apple, drained beans and peas. Stir in sugar and dried fruit. Simmer 30 minutes more. Consistency should be like thick soup. Spoon into bowls, refrigerate. Pudding gels as it chills. Top with walnuts, hazelnuts, and pomegranate seeds as desired.

Servings: Serves eight


About Istanbul and Turkey

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    Get travel tips, see photos, take a quiz and more with National Geographic's Ultimate Guide to Istanbul.

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