Monday, April 9, 2012

Choice Kebabs in Bursa Turkey

Above : The serene interior of the 14th-century Ulu Cami mosque with its three-tiered ablution fountain and walls adorned with Koranic calligraphy.
Despite its prestigious past and proximity to Istanbul, the ancient city of Bursa is often overlooked by visitors. It thrived under the Romans and was the birthplace of the Ottoman empire, which enriched the city as it experimented with new forms of architecture. Bursa today has much to offer visitors in its historic buildings and its cuisine, including the original form of the doner kebab.

 The intriguing city of Bursa boasts a distinguished history dating back to 200 BC, when King Prusia of Bithynia established a kingdom on the remains of an ancient civilization here. The fertile plains, brisk trade, and healing thermal springs later made it a favorite of the Romans, but it was not until the Ottomans conquered the city in 1326 that the economic prosperity of the region was translated into art and architecture. Bursa was the Ottoman empire’s first capital, and it became a kind of architectural laboratory – the city’s 14th- and 15thcentury buildings are uniquely important early examples of the developing Ottoman style.

Today’s cosmopolitan city is littered with the majestic ghosts of its august past, with vast and magnificent mosques, exquisitely carved royal tombs, ornate medieval medresesi (seminaries), and elegant hammams (baths) seemingly haunting every corner.
 Bursa’s spectacular setting beneath Mount Uludağ on the edge of a national park, its green spaces, café culture, and lack of hawkers pressing for business also add to the town’s attractions. As does the Iskender kebab, invented here by Iskender Usta in 1867 when he first experimented with roasting lamb on a vertical spit.
Although the word “kebab” (or kebap) is thought to be Persian in origin, the dish probably developed from the nomadic lifestyle of the early Turkic tribes as they swept in from Central Asia in the 6th century. The world’s first shish kebabs are said to have been hunks of meat skewered on the swords of marauding warriors as they sat around their camp fires. Today, the kebab is one of the most recognized and popular prepared foods in the world, but often serves as a cheap, easy stomach-filler after a night out. In fact, kebabs are a far more sophisticated and varied food form than the ubiquitous doner or shish commonly suggest.
In Turkey, where lamb and chicken most commonly fill kebabs, the meat is either compressed to form a giant cone for spit-roasting (döner means “rotating” in Turkish) and slicing, or cut into cubes and grilled on skewers (şiş), ground into meatballs (köfte), or steamed (buğu) and prepared as a casserole. The İskender kebap is quite an experience. In restaurants, waiters serve diamond-shaped slivers of spit-roasted lamb on warm pide (pita) bread, topped with fresh, fragrant tomato sauce and accompanied by grilled chili peppers and tangy yogurt, before drizzling the entire dish in lightly browned butter. Washed down with fresh grape juice, it’s a veritable feast in the first city of the Sultans.
 A Day in Bursa
Bursa is now a sizable and frenetic modern city, but its long and prodigious history is evident in its impressive mosques, tombs, houses, and pretty tea gardens.
 Start the day admiring the 20 domes of Bursa’s largest mosque, the 14th-century Ulu Cami (Grand Mosque). Just east of the square known locally as “Heykel” lies the exquisite 15th-century Yeşil Cami (Green Mosque) and the tiled Yeşil Türbe (Green Tomb). Then head for the covered market behind the mosque, where you can eat the town’s famous candied chestnuts and drink Turkish coffee.
West of the mosques are the 14th-century tombs of Osman and Orhan, the first sultans of the Ottoman empire, and just beyond them, the beautiful Muradiye Complex. Picnic in the adjacent Kültür Parkı, then take a cable-car ride up Uludağ for views over the national park and Turkey’s largest ski center.
Head for the spa suburb of Çekirge or a city hammam for a revitalizing hot mineral bath, then enjoy a juicy Iskender kebab in one of the city’s fine restaurants.
Bursa’s small international Yenişehir Airport is 33 miles (53 km) from downtown. Istanbul is within easy reach by fast ferries and buses.
 Hotel Güneş (inexpensive) is a family-run, centrally located hotel. +90 224 222 1404
 Safran Otel (moderate) is a restored Ottoman house near the Osman tomb. +90 224 224 7216
 Hotel Gönlüferah (expensive) offers historic charm with modern comforts, including a spa.
Just off Atatürk Caddesi; +90 224 220 1848

No comments:

Post a Comment