Chicken Pudding: Dessert of Champions

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

You read that right: chicken pudding, and for dessert too. During my weeks in Istanbul, I made it a point (of course) to eat as much as possible of the different local offerings. I’m not a dessert person – I don’t like chocolate – but I do enjoy a good pudding. And an unusual but popular dessert choice in the city is tavuk göğsü.

The pudding, thick and creamy and rolled over itself and topped with cinnamon, does not taste of chicken at all. The chicken is boiled and shredded, blended with the rest of the ingredients to get a goopy, dense consistency. The sugar and spices mask any chickenesque taste but as a result one serving can fill you up fairly quickly. In the Middle Ages, the same technique was used to make blancmange pudding, though contemporary iterations do not generally include the poultry.

So where’s the best place in town to get it? Thanks to a tip from Istanbul Eats, I went to Kismet Muhallebecisi (Kucukpazar Cad. 68, Eminonu, Istanbul), a tiny, unpretentious restaurant near the old Spice Bazaar. And returned. And returned.

Me with the chicken pudding master.

If you’re not heading to Istanbul anytime soon, you can always try your hand at making your own. The Atlantic has a recipe for traditional chicken pudding, with rice flour and vanilla, adapted a classic Turkish cookbook. It says the cinnamon is optional but trust me: you need the cinnamon.

For step-by-step instructions on a variation with pomegranate and almonds, see this detailed post from FX Cuisine.

For those of you who are vegetarian, there’s always vanilla and pistachio pudding! But if you do eat meat, you’d be remiss to skip this dessert – it was one of the best things I ate during my time in Istanbul.


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