Bursa is the first capital of the area of the world known as Anatolia. It was founded in the mid 14th C; much of the old city still stands. The view outside my window is stunning.
We set off to find silk and fabrics, which Bursa has been known for since the middle ages. We stopped in a small café inside of a madrasah, which is a school built in the mid-1400s. The two upper floors were all filled with silk, wool, and cotton scarves, pashminas, and supplies used in making various fabric items, including traditional oya (the needle crochet decorations that are found on the edges of many scarves, blankets, and historically the edges of shirts and dresses).
Our first dinner was spent at a very charming restaurant called Bursa kebapçısı, started in 1956. There, we enjoyed delicious doner kebab. This is a recipe that has been made for hundreds of years, and is traditionally made of lamb. The one we enjoyed tonight was half lamb and half beef.
It is formed into something like a meatloaf that is then skewered and roasted over hot flames vertically, and then sliced off and served on a bed of fresh “knuckle” pide with roasted eggplant, yogurt, and flame roasted peppers and tomatoes. Not that the dish doesn’t already have flavor, but the waiter brings along a pan of piping hot clarified butter that they pour over the top; you are expected to sop that up with more knuckle pide (knuckle pide is pita bread that has the imprint of the knuckles in the surface to make it corrugated). This handmade spiced meat was incredibly flavorful, having been roasted over live coals. I know this firsthand because as we were leaving, the cooks called me into the kitchen and invited me to slice some donor kebab myself. I met Ali (head Cook), Mehmet, and Mustapha, who welcomed me with gigantic smiles and heaped praises on me for my knife skills. That is a tough job! Those coals were very hot!! Below is a video of the experience.
A tray of fig dessert, from a recipe of the owner’s mother.
The desserts were as delightful as the kebab, and we enjoyed the kaymak (clotted cream) that was served over top of the stuffed figs and the milk soaked cake. What a delightful way to end an amazing evening.
Pumpkins used to make the candied pumpkin dessert.