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A History of Brek | History Today

During the reign of Sultan Mehmet IV ( r. 1648-87), the Dvn- Hmyn (imperial council) would meet every other morning in a domed chamber of the Topkapi Palace. When the Grand Vizier and his ministers had dealt with affairs of state, they would sit down to a magnificent lunch. Like the palace itself, the meal was a microcosm of the Ottoman Empire. There were six courses, each more sumptuous than the last. First came dane , a fragrant rice, known elsewhere as pilaf . Then there was urba- makiyan (chicken soup), followed by mlek ai (a delicate stew, made from lamb or beef). After this came a sweet dish, such as baklava or muhalebbi (milk pudding); and, to round it off, there was a kebab or kfte . The centrepiece of the whole meal, however, was brek a savoury pastry made from yufka (a delicate, filo-like dough) and filled with feta cheese, parsley, chicken, minced meat and, occasionally, a few vegetables, such as potato, spinach, leek or courgette. Delicate yet flavoursome, it was revered as the culinary epitome of Ottoman culture: a taste of poetic refinement, courtly elegance and timeless urbanity.