WHEN EARS OF GRAIN TAKE WING
A SAVORY WHEAT-BASED PASTRY THAT SPREAD FROM ANATOLIA AROUND THE WORLD, BEUREK IS ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS THAT POPS TO MIND AT THE MENTION OF RAMADAN.
Wheat, whose homeland is the fertile soil of Anatolia, is one of the world’s most important foodstuffs. Nourishing, versatile and easy to store, wheat quickly became a staple all over the world.
Central Asia and Anatolia have devoted their lives to the culture of wheat for millennia. And the Turks, who step by step achieved expertise in the use of wheat and its products, developed some impressive methods and techniques for rolling out dough in particular.
The making of palace “serpme” beurek, so-called because it is tossed and spun in the air, is a spectacular skill demonstration one never tires of watching. The transformation of the ear of wheat into flour, the flour into dough and the dough into a paper-thin sheet lighter and more transparent than silk is a veritable culinary phenomenon.
Techniques for rolling very thin dough arose mainly in eastern cultures. Such techniques are not employed in western cuisines today, but the Ottomans, through their relations in the Balkans, were inspired by the strudel of the Austrians. The equivalent of strudel in Turkey is “çarşaf” (sheet) beurek, which is rolled and stretched over a sheet of cloth, and palace “serpme” beurek is a form of çarşaf beurek made by tossing the dough without using a sheet.
Consumed in copious quantities at “Sahur” tables in Thrace and the Balkans during the month of Ramadan, these Turkish beureks are being kept alive today in Istanbul’s beurek parlors.
Manti is believed to be originated by Uyghur Turks living in China as mantou, and was carried across Central Asia to Anatolia by migrating Turkic and Mongol peoples in the Chingizid-Timurid periods.
In particular, according to one Armenian researcher, manti first reached Cilician Armenia as a result of the cultural interaction between Armenians and Mongols during their alliance in the 13th century.
According to Holly Chase, ‘Turkic and Mongol horsemen on the move are supposed to have carried frozen or dried manti, which could be quickly boiled over a camp-fire’ In Turkey, it is also called Tatar böregi (Tatar bureks), which indicates its relation to nomadic peoples.
Korean mandu is also said to have arrived in Korea through the Mongols in the 14th century.
However, some researchers do not discount the possibility that manti may have originated in the Middle East and spread eastward to China and Korea through the Silk Road.
The dough for kesme usually consists of flour, water, salt, and an egg.
The dough is rolled out into a large thin circle, and left to dry for a while. It is then lightly floured, folded over several times accordion-style, and sliced into strips, which are then separated. The process has been illustrated, step by step.
The kesme may be boiled immediately in a broth often containing ingredients such as potatoes, meat, carrots, peppers, and tomatoes, or left to harden and stored. Kesme is often made in a kazan.
The reshteh used currently in the Iranian cuisine is actually a thicker type of noodle, used in reshteh polow and also a type of ash, called Ash Reshteh.
In Turkey, kesme is known as "Erişte", and eaten generally in winter. It is made from flour, egg, water, salt and milk. These ingredients are worked into a dough, which is rolled out, cut, and dried in the sun or an oven after dried for a day.
Rolled Fillo With White Cheeses