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The Culinary Culture of the Crimean Tatars

Asst. Prof. Nursel Baykasoğlu*

The Crimean Tatars have a very rich cuisine. This wealth is the product both of their own inventiveness as well as the fact that they have lived in among several other cultures.

The geographical region where they live lends itself especially to animal husbandry. Thus their diet is made up chiefly of meat and dairy products as well as the fruits and vegetables they raise themselves (carrots, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, grapes, strawberries, figs, apples, pairs, peaches and walnuts), and baked goods.

Nine years ago, the Crimean Tatars returned to their homeland after 50 years of exile. Because of the difficulty they faced in finding works and the consequent financial difficulties, they spend the entire summer preparing food for the winter and storing it in their larders, azbar in their language.

Meat is cooked in its fat until all the water is gone, fish are salted or dried, fruits are made into preserves or compotes, and vegetables are pickled or in the case of tomatoes and peppers, reduced to paste for storage.

Special days such as circumcisions, birthdays, engagements, weddings, births, deaths etc. are very important to the Crimean Tatars. On such days various meat dishes are prepared communally, along with various sweet and savory baked foods such as börek, cookies and pastries.

Green tea and coffee are heavily consumed. Green tea is made by pouring boiling water to a porcelain pot and adding a certain amount of green tea. The tea is poured three times into a small porcelain tea bowl, then returned to the teapot, then drunk with no further steeping. It is believed that making green tea in this way will bring abundance and plenty.

Tea and especially coffee is served accompanied by chocolate, various preserves and cookies.

In this collection, which was done with the goal of introducing the cuisine of the Crimean Tatars, I am indebted to Lenora Dilaverkızı for preparing all the foods and thus giving me the opportunity to photograph them.

Samsa

Ingredients:

1 kg flour
½ t  dry yeast
Salted water
250 gr ground beef
4-5 onions
Red pepper
Vegetable oil
Parsley, salt and cumin to taste
1 egg

1. Combine the flour, salted water and yeast and knead to make a dough the consistency of an earlobe. Let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Using an oklava (a long thin rolling pin), roll out to ½ cm thick. Spread with oil.
3. Roll the dough into a long roll. Press lightly, then cut into pieces the length of four fingers’ width.
4. Roll out each piece into a round, and let rest for 20 minutes.
5. Mix the raw meat, finely chopped onion, red pepper, salt, cumin, and minced parsley to make a filling. Distribute among the pieces of dough you have rolled out, fold and seal, brush with egg and arrange on an oiled pan. Bake in the oven.

Çiğ Börek
Raw Börek

Ingredients:

1 kg flour
Salted water
250 gr ground meat
5-6 onions
Parsley
Black pepper, salt and a little water
Vegetable oil.

1. Combine flour and salted water and knead to make a dough the consistency of an earlobe.
2. Divide into egg-sized pieces.
3. Roll out thin.
4. Prepare a filling out of the meat, finely chopped onion, parsley, black pepper, salt, and a little water.
5. Distribute the filling among the pieces of dough, fold and seal.
6. Fry in hot oil.

Note: The dough for çiğ börek is not left to stand at all.

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