Our signature dish

The Testi Lamb Casserole
Çirağan Palace Kempinski
Our signature dish

Çırağan Palace Kempinski Istanbul’s Signature Dish is a Palace Classic

This very popular dish is an authentic recipe from the Ottoman Empire. It has a unique presentation and a special cooking and serving technique. “Testi” is the Turkish word for “clay pot”, which were initially developed to carry water from the wells to houses. Different cultures have used different techniques of cooking food in clay for centuries. The first pots made of earth were good to store water, but later they were used for cooking meat and vegetables in the embers of a fire or in stone ovens.  Its usage for cooking purposes in the Anatolian land dates back to Hittites – the  ancient Anatolian people who established an empire at Hattusa (today’s Çorum) in north-central Anatolia around 1600 BC. The pots we use at Tuğra Restaurant are produced by hand in Kavak/Kavak Çömlek in Avanos-Nevşehir. Pots made in this area are made of red mud, which is a special type of mud particular to the region. 

This dish used to be prepared for Ottoman Sultans. A slow cooking method was used to tenderize the meat, as well as to protect the Sultans from being poisoned. A personal assistant would test the ingredients, and it wasn’t until the clay pot had been sealed that they felt the Sultan would be safe. Prepared with Thrace spring lamb and seasonal local products,  is mainly found in Central Anatolia and the Midwestern Black Sea region. Anatolian cities, such as Yozgat, Nevşehir, Konya, Cappadocia, are home to this special dish because of the millennia of pottery-making tradition in the area. This dish could also be made with vegetables, fish, poultry and even sweets if desired. 

Its main ingredients are deboned, lean lamb shoulder, tomato sauce, wild mushrooms, shallot, garlic cloves, green pepper, young potatoes and vegetable stock. After all the ingredients are put into a clay pot, the hat of the pot is covered with aluminium foil, and it is baked in the oven for about 100 minutes. Then a special sealing dough is made with flour and other ingredients to cover the hat of the pot.  When the dish is ready, service staff breaks open the pot by knocking it with a special copper handle on the side table right in front of the guest As one of the city’s most renowned Ottoman cuisine restaurants.



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