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Yasemin Özkan (Gourmet Notes)
yaseminturedi@yahoo.com

Stuffed Fruits, “The Delice”

12 February 2011 Saturday 16:57
The Ottoman and Turkish kitchen are famous for their stuffed vegetables and fruits. It is one of the rare kitchens in the world which uses fruits to prepare salty dishes. Maybe that makes the Ottoman kitchen very different than others.
Turkish people carried dry fruits during their immigration trough out the century. They used dry fruits to prepare different kind of meat dishes. As they could not always find fresh vegetables to cook, they combined meat with dry fruits for juicier meals. This habit followed them through Anatolia, where they discovered the “apricot” which is a nice addition and very tasty to cook.

Today we will focus on the quince. The quince is loved and frequently used in the Turkish kitchen. We use it in the making of delicious jams, compotes, marmalades, and of course the “stuffed quince” called “Ayva dolması” in Turkish. It is one of the famous “dolma” of the Ottoman Empire. It has been done for Sultans along with grapes named Sultanas.

The quince is a fruit that you can keep easily at home during winter. When it is stored without sunlight, it becomes softer to eat as a fruit.  But you can use it as a soft or as a hard cooked delicious meal. Nowadays, beside restaurants which try to reanimate the Ottoman-Turkish cuisine, it’s not easy to find the “stuffed quince”, either “Ayvalı yahni” one of the Ottoman meals made with quince, anywhere.

In 1999, I tried to participate in the reanimation of our national cuisine with my cooking programs at TRT, for the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the Ottoman Empire foundation. I named our traditional kitchen “Ottoman-Turkish” cuisine. Big restaurants and Hotels as Divan, Çırağan, Feriye, Asithane and some others in Istanbul also put their energy at work. Today, happily you can find in Asithane Restaurant next to Kâriye mosque, the delicious “stuffed quince” as well as the “stuffed melon” and “Fodla-staff bread”.

Divan Hotel and restaurants are one of the pioneers to start this hard work. They are very successful. The work done by Tuğrul Şavkay can’t be forgotten. Not only he cooked them, but fusion them too.

When you go to Istanbul you can try the “stuffed quince” or you can send me an e-mail to get the recipe to do it yourself. It’s worth the challenge!

Some tips;

Never peel the quince for cooking. When you cut it, put it in lemon juice, to keep the color. Clean the center well, since, if not cleaned, it will give a strange odor to your dishes.

When you prepare quince jam, keep the seeds and add them into the jam while it is boiling. You can take them out and throw them away once the jam is cooled.

The seeds will give a nice color and jelly effect to the jam.
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