On our last day in Instanbul a few weeks ago we went to look at the Byzantine mosaics in Chora we found we could extend our exploration of the past at the Astitane restaurant just next door. The menu comprises dishes researched by the chefs in archives recording Ottoman feasts.
This is a chicken stew made to a recipe dated 1539, cooked with apricots, Rezaki raisins (Rezaki grapes are dark and thick-skinned) and almonds flavoured with cinnamon and cloves.
Listen to this authentic Byzantine chant in the clip below as you chop and fry.
Recipe for Ottoman chicken with apricots
- 150g/6 oz dried apricots
- 1 tbsp flaked almonds
- some threads of saffron
- 4 cloves
- couple of knobs of butter
- small bunch of spring onions
- 4 skinless chicken breasts
- 40g/⅓ cup sultanas or raisins
- 240ml/1 cup chicken stock made with water and a stock cube
- 1 tbsp honey (ideally from the strawberry tree)
- a cinnamon stick
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- Chop the apricots roughly.
- Soak the saffron in an egg cupful of hot water.
- Melt a knob or so of butter in an ovenproof casserole.
- Add the apricots, saffron, cloves, spring onions and fry until tender.
- Stuff the chicken breasts as best you can – you may need to cut a pocket – and stuff with a knob of butter.
- Add the raisins, the chicken stock and the sherry vinegar, bring to the boil.
- Add the cinnamon and the honey.
- Simmer for about half an hour until the liquid has reduced to become syrupy.