Beloved and frequently consumed by the people of the Karadeniz (Black Sea), anchovies were also one of the favorite delicacies in Ottoman times.
Named after hamsin, the 50 cold days that begin in mid-January, hamsi (anchovy in Turkish) is one of the most essential foods of the people of the Black Sea region.Born in Trabzon, Suleyman the Magnificent’s love for this fish can be seen in the anchovy motif on his sword exhibited at Topkapi Palace. Anchovies were also favored in the Ottoman cuisine and used in many dishes.
In his travelogue, Evliya Celebi mentions the use of anchovy in 40 kinds of dishes including borek pastries ,soups, stews and even in baklava dessert. Besides, anchovy stew is the only recipe he provides in the entirety of his 10-volume travelogue. He talks about the Black Sea people’s love for anchovy by saying, “When boats filled with anchovies sail towards the land, trumpets are heard, and everyone stops what they’re doing and rushes to the harbor.”
Here is Evliya Çelebi’s recipe for anchovy stew with celery and leek, two vegetables mentioned in Mevlana’s works.
Serves 4 people
1 kg hamsi (boneless anchovies ) / 1 celery / 1 onion / 2 leeks / 90 ml olive oil / 240 ml water /5 g cinnamon / 5 g salt
Chop the celery, onion and leek and put them in a bowl. Mix with salt and cinnamon. Place the mix into a deep pan and top with the anchovies. (You can also put the anchovies on skewers of 10.) Add water and olive oil, and cook for 20-25 minutes on medium heat. If you wish, you can sprinkle with parsley before serving.
Cornbread with Clotted Cream
Serves 4 people
3 cups of cornmeal / 5 g salt / 150 g clotted cream / 2 cups of hot water / 1 tbsp. sourdough
Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl and knead. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for 45 minutes. Bake it in the oven at 180 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Slice into cubes and serve.