From Padishah’s Table to Wedding Caldron: Keşkek

From Padishah’s Table to Wedding Caldron: Keşkek

Being the main course of wedding, engagement and funeral ceremonies in so many places of Anatolia, Keşkek nurtures the social solidarity too.

Keşkek is one of the most famous meals of Aegean Region. Nothing can match the taste of Keşkek that is cooked in big caldrons in villages. While the preparation might vary region to region, the basic ingredient of Keşkek is cracked wheat and meat.

Steeped a night before a wedding or a feast, the wheat starts to be boiled in the morning. The boiled wheat and meat are taken into big caldrons to be mauled by knobs to be totally resolved. This is called as Keşkek malling.

Well-malled Keşkek is called “gum-like Keşkek”. The Keşkek that is cooked inside caldrons and on wood fire is served with the sauce that is prepared with red pepper and olive oil.

Let’s talk about the emergence of Keşkek now. Rumor has it that at the return of Yavuz Sultan Selim’s Iran campaign in 1514, it was herd that he took the road to give a rest for his army and to spend the winter. An old lady in a village on the way of the army herd about it and decided to do whatever it takes to invite her master to her house and serve a dish to him. She had nothing more than big cracked wheat and chickpea in her storehouse and also some lamb ribs on which very little amount of meat was left that was given by the neighbors a few days ago. By thinking that the inadequacy of the meat should not be realized, the old lady placed the ribs with little meat at the bottom of the cruse, put a bowl of cracked wheat and a bowl of chickpea on and filled with water. Added salt. Then put it inside the bread oven at the yard. As heated inside the fire, the cruse lost its water.

At wee the small hours, the soldiers of the Padishah appeared. The old lady cut the road excitedly. Asked the Padishah, told that she would not let them move without tasting a spoon of her meal and without drinking a bowl of her ayran, beggingly. The soldiers that couldn’t stand her insistence had to give a break.

“Well, old lady, bring your meal, let’s see whether it is worthy of our Padishah.” they said. The appearance of the meal didn’t please the soldiers at first. One soldier turned the old lady and said “I wish it would be with meat.” Yet, the Padishah was invited to this villager’s warm table. The villager woman served her meal. Not only Padishah ate this meal with appetite but also he ordered his chief cook to prepare and distribute it to the whole army.

Then, this meal that was said “I wish it would be with meat/Keşke etli olsaydı” took its place in Padishah’s table and called as “Keşkek” in time. Keşkek is indispensable meal of feast mornings, weddings, special dinners and the most honorable guests any more.

1 kg wheat for ashoura
½ paket margarin
½ glass of olive oil
250 gr. Meat piece
1 glass of chickpea
1 soup spoon of salt
4 liter water
Tomato paste

1 kg wheat is weeded out and washed. A glass of chickpea is added and it is wetted with warm water. Then, it is poured into the earthenware pot. Salt, a soup spoon of margarin, half glass of oil and meat piece are added on it.  The earthenware pot is filled with water up to two fingers left at the top. It is put into the oven from the evening. It is taken from the oven in the morning and mixed with wooden spoon. Fried oil is added on and sauce is prepared by adding tomato paste and spices.

Should be served in tile dishes as hot.