Centuries ago, people in various parts of the world embarked on a journey to explore herbs that would enhance and sweeten their culinary creations. Among the remarkable discoveries were lentils and poppies, which have since become indispensable flavours in Turkish cuisine.
Lentils have a rich history that spans thousands of years. Originating from the fertile soil of the Middle East, lentils have been cultivated for approximately 8,000 years, with evidence of their usage in ancient Mesopotamia and Anatolia.
Over time, their popularity spread throughout the Mediterranean region, gaining significance in diverse cultures.
Poppy, with its deep roots, holds a significant place in the Anatolian lands of Türkiye. The cultivation of poppies in the region can be traced back to their introduction from Central Asia around 3,000 BC. This plant has a long-standing history in Anatolia, and its presence has influenced various aspects of the local culture, including cuisine, medicine, and traditional practices.
The use of poppy was prevalent during the eras of the Ancient Greeks, Roman Empire, and Byzantine Empire, during which it began to play a prominent role in Anatolian cuisine.
The true glory of lentils and poppies emerged when they converged in Turkish cuisine. During the Ottoman Empire, lentil soup and poppy-based desserts became staples of palace cuisine. The skilled palace cooks ingeniously combined these two ingredients, resulting in unique and exquisite flavors.
As time went on, lentils and poppies found their way to every corner of Turkey, becoming fundamental elements of traditional dishes. Lentil soup found a permanent place on tables, remaining one of the most popular entrees in this day and time.
Poppy-based desserts occupy a unique position in the realm of Turkish cuisine's sweet offerings. Delightful treats such as poppy bread, poppy candy pare, and poppy revani have become integral parts of Türkiye's culinary heritage.
Anatolian women further enhanced their culinary repertoire by incorporating poppy and lentils into the simple dough, creating börek.
These pastries, lovingly prepared by women, became an integral part of celebrations like weddings and births. Their exceptional taste transformed into a cherished trademark flavour.
Today, the delightful marriage of lentils and poppies continues to enchant taste buds, carrying the legacy of ancient traditions and cultural richness within Turkish cuisine.