[Sca-cooks] 15th C. Ottoman Bulghur w/Chestnuts
lilinah at earthlink.net
Thu Sep 20 13:10:52 PDT 2007
Thanks to all who have responded. (and i welcome more comments)
>Bulgur's steamed before drying, I'm pretty sure, so you can pour
>boiling water over it in the right proportions, and it'll soak it up
>and "cook", if it's not too coarse and you stir occasionally... this
>assumes you don't want it _really_ soft.
Yep. That's how i make tabouli. And i don't want it really soft for
this feast. I'm going to have some very soft rice desserts, so i want
some textural variety.
>I've cooked bulgur in food service operations, when no one was
>looking, with hot water from the coffee urn ;-). People kept asking
>what my secret for perfect bulgur was.
It's the water-o... it's the water, and a lot more... ;-)
>Sunflower seeds are New World, I believe. So your genetically modified
>rapeseed oil (canola) and your sunflower oil are both equally
>non-period; at least the Ottomans had olive oil, so that may be a better
>bet. On the other hand, how does untoasted sesame oil rate in the
>current cholesterol diet? And does that show up in the Ottoman diet at
And Vittoria wrote:
>Would grapeseed oil be appropriate? And I may have been reading too fast
>and missed mention of this, but why not sesame oil?
Sunflower oil is quite popular in Eastern Europe these days - and
Istanbul is in Eastern Europe. However, if it's New World, i'll skip
Not too much use of sesame oil in purely Ottoman recipes, although it
was used in al-Baghdadi's recipes.
I haven't heard back yet from some of the folks with health-related
dietary issues i wrote to personally, asking if they'll be at the
feast. If they are coming, i'll consider some kind of oil; if not,
i'm going for butter.
>Marianna Yerasimos in 500 Years of Ottoman Cuisine has two pages
>on bulgur. She mentions the various accounts that list it, including
>the purchasing records from 1473 that record chestnuts and bulgur being
>purchased and cooked in the imperial kitchens.
>She indicates that the chestnuts were omitted and return as an ingredient
>in the pilavi in the 18th century. She then gives an 18th century recipe for
>Kestaneli Bulgur Pilavi. It's on page 131. It's bulgur, meat stock or plain
>water, chestnuts, onion, butter, raisins, cumin, allspice, dill, and
>salt. I am
>not sure how early that the allspice would have made its way east to the
>Ottoman Empire. I just read that it was one of the things Columbus brought
>back from the New World, but how soon it would have traveled from there
>east I don't know.
Thanks! I really gotta get that book!
So, as i thought, bulghur, broth, onion, butter, salt, and chestnuts
will definitely work, as based on my analysis of the late 15th C.
recipes and the 18th C. recipe - there's a 1764 Ottoman cookbook.
Raisins are also a possibility - i'll have to see how much other
dried fruit i'm using. And i suspect that cinnamon would be a
possibility in the 15th or 16th C., but i don't want to use it in
>You still need a burner to heat the broth/water, and its likely to take longer
>than you expect. And use a vegetarian broth if you hope to serve it to
Yeah, but i only have to heat the broth - i won't have to continue
cooking for another 25 minutes or more, so that saves about 1/2 hour.
And, of course, i'm going to use vegetable broth, as i do in all my
feasts, for the non-meat dishes.
>You can buy frozen roasted and peeled chestnuts. The ones stashed in my
>freezer are from Trader Joe. I'd look into that, because it is a
>major pain to
>peel the inner skin. It takes me an hour or more for a pound. The peeled
>ones were cheaper too.
Thank for the hint. I'll have to see if they have them this year -
unfortunately there are so many products they don't carry for long.
>I'm not sure where you would find tail fat anyway. It comes from a special
>breed of sheep. I don't think any old sheep fat would be the same.
>They couldn't use Sunflower oil, since that is a New World food. If you are
>going to use any oil at all, I'd use olive oil, or perhaps sesame
>oil if you can
>find it at a good price. Maybe they didn't use olive oil in the
>but I'll bet the cooks used it in the dishes they cooked for
>themselves. If you
>use sesame oil, DON'T buy the dark Chinese kind.
Oh, yeah, i know about this. I've been buying unroasted sesame oil
since the late 1960s, when i used it either alone or half-and-half
with butter to make pie crust and cookies. And i always mention this
when posting my recipes, such as on this list or my website.
And i will add, as i've done in other messages, that i've bought
unroasted sesame oil from Middle Eastern markets to compare it with
the more expensive sesame oil made by Spectrum in the US. The modern
Middle Eastern oil was bitter and had an unpleasant "greasy" feel,
while the Spectrum brand tasted very fresh, very nutty & sesame-y,
and was not unpleasantly "greasy". I did use the Middle Eastern oil,
but i blended it about half-and-half with the health food brand to
improve it. However, i haven't bought it again.
As i have often said, or at least implied, the quality of the
finished dish depends not only the quality of the cook, but also on
the quality of the ingredients. I am forced to make some compromises
when making SCA feasts to keep within budgets, but i try to keep the
quality up as much as possible.
I remember being eagerly served a dish by some friends at a pot luck.
They expected me to recognize the dish, but i didn't. It turned out
they'd used one of my recipes. But they had simplified it, skipping
several important steps, cutting out a number of ingredients, using
only one of the seasonings called for, and using lesser quality of
others. I not only hadn't recognized it, but i didn't like it at all.
While i believe that recipes can be altered and still taste good,
this wasn't one of those cases, and their compromises in ingredient
quality had had a negative effect, at least on me.
And this is one reason why i asked about pouring hot liquid over the
bulghur and letting it stand versus simmering it in the liquid. I
don't want to take shortcuts that will decrease the quality of my
dish. I think in this case, pour hot liquid over it will work. I may
need to simmer the chestnuts, however, which i can try to do the day
before, or else put them in the broth as it's heating...
Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita
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