Turkish Cookery Books
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A Bibliography of Turkish Cookery Books up to 1927

The First Printed Cookbok in Turkey

The first Turkish cookbook (n° 1 in the Bibliography) Melceü't-Tabbâhîn (Refuge [ie Resource] of Cooks) was printed by lithography in Istanbul in August 1844, five years after the Tanzimat (Political and Administrative Reforms of the Ottoman Empire) in 1839.

This work of Mehmed Kâmil, lecturer at the medical school, was published nine times during the years 1844-88. It consists of twelve chapters containing 227 recipes. Moreover, recipes for salads, various sorts of tarator (rich sauces made with walnuts, bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and various spices), pickles and culinary techniques, 46 in all, were added in the margins. However, the measures used in the recipes were based on the old Ottoman systems.

In the Introduction (pp 8-9) the author says that he has a desire to write a cookbook for people who love fun and pleasure; that both male and female cooks in Istanbul do not care to cook something new; that perhaps they cannot even cook properly what they think they know; and that 'the kitchen expenses burn their hands'. He goes on to say that, after carefully studying the old cookbooks, he has selected recipes for the most delectable and rare dishes, discarding unnecessary ones, and adding new recipes obtained from experienced cooks. He also says, humorously, that publication of his book will bring relief to those who had previously had to be content with nothing but tripe soup!

Dishes prepared in the western way are seen for the first time in this book. Mehmed Kâmil used the Ağdiye Risâlesi (item B in the list of manuscripts above) as his main source. In turn, his own work became the main source for cookbooks published in later years.

Türabi Efendi's book (n° 5) is simply an English translation of Melceü't-Tabbâhîn. This translation is included in the bibliography for the purpose of further comparative studies, and because it will be convenient for some scholars to know that the text of the first and most important Turkish cookbook is available in the English language.

Method Followed in Preparing This Bibliography

I have listed the books and their various editions in chronoiogical order and given a number to each. I have added explanatory notes whenever necessary on the contents of the book, and have also indicated whether the whole or part of the work has been translated into another language.

The principal bibliography of the Turkish books which were published before the change of alphabet in 1928 is: M Seyfettin Özege, Eski Harflerle Basılmış Türkçe Eserler Kataloğu, vols I-V, Fatih Yayınevi, Istanbul, 1971-9. I have referred to this, by the abbreviation ‘Özege’, indicating the volume and page number where the books I describe may be found. If a book is not cited in Özege, then I give the catalogue where it is to be found.

In the Turkish version of this bibliography I included a complete list of the recipes in the work by Mehmed Kâmil (n° 1). However, this list is identical with the contents of the book by Türâbi Efendi (n° 5), which is now available in a facsimile reprint edition, so it has not been reproduced here.

The Appendix to the bibliography gives the full titles of seven cookbooks in the Armenian script published between the years 1871-1926, since all the names of dishes are in Turkish. The most interesting of all is Miftahü't-Tabbâhin (Key [ie Guide] for Cooks) (n° 2 in the Appendix), because some of the recipes therein have surprising or extraordinary names, such as: chestnut soup; rice soup with sweet crushed almond sauce; rooster kidneys; sweet spinach; artichoke stew; veal stew with lettuce leaves and onions; sultan's delight; kebab with cumin; seven-hour kebab; stuffed cuttlefish; merchant's stew; hanım (lady’s) böreği(layered pastry with some kind of a stuffing between layers); cici mama  (sweet food in baby talk); etc.

The Turkish version of the bibliography has a second appendix, not translated here, because not dealing with cookery books. This comprises 47 items - books which deal with related matters such as: nutrition; foods and beverages and their calorific values; home economics; kitchen utensils; meat and dairy products; canned foods, pastrami; etc.


I have identified just over 40 cookbooks or editions of them published in the Arabic script between the years 1844-1927. These works are important sources for our traditional dishes, many of which have subsequently begun to disappear from our kitchens. However, one cannot find all these books, not even in the public libraries in Turkey, although some libraries have some of them.

I have so far found only nine editions of the first book to be printed, Melceü't-Tabbâhîn, which was the source for almost all the works published after it. It is interesting that it was also published once in Jerusalem (n° 7).

Up to 1888, most of the cookbooks were printed by lithography; but after that typesetting was the normal method. Below are details of the cookbooks which were published in more than one edition. The numbering in this list is that of the editions, and does not correspond to the numbers of the items in the bibliography.

Mehmed Kâmil, Melceü' t-Tâbbâhîn

1st H. 1260/İ.S. 1844 by lithography
2nd H. 1266/İ.S. 1849-50 "
3rd H. 1273/İ.S. 1856 "
4th H. 1275/İ.S. 1859 "
5th H. 1284/İ.S. 1867 "
6th H. 1284/İ.S. 1867  typeset
7th H. 1290/İ.S. 1873 "
8th H. 1290/İ.S. 1873 by lithography
9th H. 1306/İ.S. 1888-89 typeset

Türâbi Efendi (a translation into English of the above)

1st 1864/5 typeset
2st 1884 "

Yeni Yemek Kitabı

1st H. 1298/İ.S. 1880-81 by lithography
2nd H. 1300/İ.S. 1882-83 "
3rd H. 1301/İ.S. 1883-84 "
4th H. 1306/İ.S. 1889-90 "
5th H. 1314/İ.S. 1897 "
6nd H. 1340/İ.S. 1924 typeset
7th İ.S. 1924 "


1st H 1300/İ.S. 1882-83 typeset
2nd H 1308/İ.S. 1891-92 "
3rd H 1310/İ.S. 1892-93 "
4th H 1325/İ.S. 1907 "

Mahmud Nedim b. Tosun

1st H. 1318/İ.S. 1900 typeset
2nd 1921 "
3th 1927 "

As we see from this list, Melceü't-Tabbâhîn remained for a long time the dominant source book. Besides Türâbi Efendi's translation of it, which was published twice, mention must be made of Muhammed Sidkî Efendi's translation into Arabic.

Then in 1880-81 came Yeni Yemek Kitabı (A New Cookbook). This work was republished in 1924 and 1927 under the new title Yeni Usül Yemek Kitabı (The New Techniques Cookbook) by Muammer Mihrî, who thus tried to appropriate it to his own authorship.

In 1882 Fahriye's, and in 1900 Mahmud Nedim's, works made some additions to Turkish cuisine.

Most of the books included in the Bibliography were used as sources for works published after 1928. In fact, Aşçı ve Aşhane, Mükemmel Yemek Kitabı (The Cook and the Kitchen, a Perfect Cookbook) (Tefeyyüz Kitaphanesi, Istanbul, 1933, pp 540 + 20), published by K. Adil (Şen), is nothing else than Ev Kadını (The Housewife) (n° 12) in the new Turkish script, with no mention made of Ayşe Fahriye, the original author. Another book entitled Halk Mutfağı(Istanbul, Tefeyyüz Kitapevi, 1944), of which almost 20 editions had appeared by the year 1980, has a content which is very similar to material in both Ayşe Fahriye's and Mahmud Nedim's books.

1 The book can be found from Cookbooks, 34 Marine Drive, Rottingdean, Susse BN2 7HQ, price £25.00

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