Keskek |

Keşkek is a special name of a traditional wedding dish. It is mostly made in Central Anatolia and Agean region of Turkey. Weddings in these places last a few days and during this time,  various dishes are served in front of bride’s or groom’s home. The wedding traditions may differ in regions but food serving is a fixed part of the tradition. As the word “tradition” points out, these are mostly forgotten in big cities, but people in towns or villages still live with them. Moreover, some young couples in big cities also want to continue their wedding traditions and they prefer holding wedding ceremonies in their hometowns or their villages.

There are a lot of different and interesting wedding traditions in Turkey, but I’ll write about one of them in this post. However, I should give a piece of background information about wedding traditions.

Before the ceremony, it is typical in Turkish culture that groom’s parents or the elderly members of his family visit  bride’s parents to know each other (of course after making an appointment). The first visitors always must be groom’s parents, not the bride’s. And it is a must to take something sweet with them such as chocolate, Turkish delight or a kind of Turkish dessert. After welcoming them, the girl makes Turkish coffee and serves it to the guests. Parents introduce themselves and then the boy’s parents state “the reason for their visit”. They say that their son wants to marry the daughter of the family and ask if they give permission to this marriage or not. The girl’s family wants some time to think about it and  boy’s family leave. In some regions, this event repeats a few times. No matter girl and boy already have a relationship, this is a permanent tradition before marriage, a Turkish girl should have the permission of her parents.

keskek2After everything is arranged and when the wedding day comes, both parents decide on where to organize the ceremony. In such cases, generally thy do what the girl’s family wants. If it is a traditional ceremony, then some cooks are held and they start to prepare some wedding dishes to be served in the wedding area. As I said, the main dish may differ in regions. The picture above was taken at the wedding of my friend’s cousine. You can see the cauldrons on wooden fire here and men and women work together.

In Central Anatolia and Agean region, Keşkek is generally the main dish. Besides it, chickpea stew, rice pilaf, a kind of meat dish, salad and ayran are also served. These dishes are all cooked in large cauldrons over wooden fire, so they are always more delicious than the dishes you make at home.


And in this picture which is from the same wedding, you see the big amount of keşkek and two men are continually stirring it to mash them as a small blender doesn’t work for such a big amount. Generally it’s men’s job to mash them  in this way because it really requires physical strength.  Even one man is never enough for this.

I’m not from Central Anatolia or Agean region, so I hadn’t known how to cook Keşkek until last weekend. Last weekend my husband’s mom suggested to make this unique dish together. She is from Central Anatolia and her mom, when young, was the best cook in their town, everyone would want help from her mom about wedding dishes. So my second mom learnt this dish from her own mom. No need to say that elderly women are always the best cooks!Keskek |


Ingredients (serving:6)
-2 cups wheat (you see it in the picture above)
-8 cups hot water for wheat
-6 cups water for lamb chops
-6 lamb arm chops
-1 tbsp pepper paste or red pepper flakes
-2 tbp butter
-2 tsp salt
-2 tsp black pepper

Soak the wheat overnight. Wash it by rubbing the following day a few times until the water seems clean.

First boil the lamb chops in 6 cups water for about 40 minutes until tender.

Put it in a pressure cooker and pour  the hot water into it. When it releases its steam, bring the heat to the lowest and cook it for 50 minutes.

When it’s cooked, take the pressure cooker from the heat and when it gets cool enough, open it. Stir it with a big spoon and add 4 cups of meat broth (the water in which you boil the lamb chops) into the boiled wheat. Then add salt and stir it again. Taste it and if you think the salt is not enough, add some more. Lastly, mix it with a blender until it gets chewy.

For its sauce, heat the butter and add ½ cup meat broth (the water in which you boil the lamb chops) and pepper paste or pepper flakes.

For its serving, take some keşkek ( the mashed wheat) in a bowl and pour the sauce on it, sprinkle some black pepper and put one piece of lamb chop on it. You can serve it with ayran.

As it includes energizing ingredients, keşkek is mostly prefered in Winter when it is made at homes. But if it’s a wedding day, season doesn’t matter.

Turkish Wedding

In traditional wedding ceremonies, all relatives are ready to help. Bur the boys of that family have the big responsibility. They serve dishes in a tray you see in the picture. They work like waiters on that day. Also, they are responsible for organizing the place of the ceremony by carrying chairs and tables here and there depending on the number of the guests. And the number of the guests is never less than 100 hundred people.


  1. says

    The wedding traditions sound lovely, and cooking outside over a fire must give the dishes amazing flavor. It’s so nice that this dish is being passed down through generations.

  2. says

    I love to learn of traditions of other countries and at the weddings are the most beautiful dishes!

    I know that this recipe with lamb must be really delicious :)

    Zerrin have a great week!


  3. Leesie says

    Culture, tradition and pictures are what I love about your blog. It is wonderful you got to make this recipe alongside your second mother.

    Here we have available as a breakfast dish something called Cream of Wheat (one of my favorites!), which very much reminds me of the wheat used in your dish. It also reminds me of the consistency (not the color, of course) of polenta, which I also love as I was raised in an Italian family!

    Thank you Zerrin. Very nicely done.

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing this tradition with us, that was very nice. The food looks good too. I like how you used the lamb broth in the other components. You know I love lamb. You did an excellant job Zerrin.

  5. says

    It’s cool to find out the history and tradition behind certain meals and dishes. That for sharing this with us.

  6. says

    Fabulous post Zerrin…thank you so much for sharing this, as culture and tradition should be guarded and kept alive forever. You made me feel like I was there witnessing this for myself. If you happen to attend another wedding, would it be possible to share a photo of the bride and groom? I am curious about the traditional costumes–they must be beautiful!

  7. says

    I truly enjoy every single of your posts, it is so great to be able to have an insider’s view into Turkish culture, it is very precious, thank you so much :)

  8. says

    Wow, this one looks so good, I think I must make a trip to Turkey to try as I doubt I’ll find the fellows here to help with the preparation! I bet it tastes better at the celebrations because it is such a part of the festivities. What a wonderful post, as you know I am keenly interested in the relationship of traditions and food.

  9. says

    Such a lovely post! First of all, the keskek dish pictured looks absolutely delicious, both savory and creamy. As I’m a little frightened of pressure cooker, I might have to try the ‘by-hand’ method! 😎

    As I read your words, it occurred to me that these customs surrounding the wedding of a young couple – from the families meeting each other (and waiting for the bride’s parents’ permission) to the food preparation for the wedding feast – are symbolic of the patience and cooperation needed in marriage between the families and between husband and wife. From your previous posts, I would assume that at least among the older generations, it is still primarily the woman’s role to cook but here, we see men actively participating; even the boys take on a role of serving dishes.

    It’s wonderful to hear that young adults who have migrated to the cities will still return to their homes to celebrate such life events. Some might say of such traditional cooking methods, “Hire a caterer!” or “Why don’t you cook over gas/electricity – it will be faster!”, etc. It might make it easier but it would lose such an important lesson: that the greatest joys in life, from a simple dish of good food to a long-lasting marriage full of love and happiness, sometimes take a lot of hard work.

    You are fortunate to have wonderful women passing on these marvelous food traditions to you, and we are lucky that you are sharing them with us!

  10. says

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing these traditions with us. What a delicious picture-how lucky you are to learn from the best!

  11. says

    Lisa- when a dish is cooked over wooden fire, the flavor of it becomes unbelievably tasty.

    Natasha- This is the part of a wedding I love most.

    Gera- Weddings include the symbols of many traditions in a culture. I love to share these.

    Leesie- I’d love to learn that creamy wheat for breakfast.

    Diana- I always try to use lamb broth in such dishes, soup or pilaf.

    Jenn- It’s my pleasure to tell about our culture here.

    Rowena- Glad you love these traditions. The first thing I’ll do in the next wedding is to take photos of bride and groom.

    Christelle- My pleasue to share our culture with you.

    Sara- It was interesting for me, too when I first learnt it.

    OysterCulture- I guarantee that you can find so many people to help you for preperations here.

    Tangled Noodle- Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts about our tradition here. Cooperation has a very important role in our culture. If there is a celebration of any thing (like weddings, engagements, celebrations for new babies, celebration for sending older boys for military service), all neighbors and relatives work together.

    In older generations, as you said, cooking is mainly women’s role. However, in such celebrations, there is no exact gender difference. Men and women do everything together.

    I think we should support such old traditions to continue. It absolutely includes more emotion and you learn a lot from the elderlies in such events.

    The Duo Dishes- when you eat this, you may forget about hunger forever.

    Reeni- Thank you. I’m planning to share more traditions in my next posts.

    Sea- Glad you like it. And thank you for visiting my blog.

  12. says

    I love the shots of the men mashing the wheat in the big cauldrons and I love the insight into Turkish wedding traditions. There’s really so much more than physical labour going in to the preparation of those wedding dishes.

  13. Leesie says

    Hello Zerrin, the cream of wheat is a ground fine white wheat grain, much like polenta/corn meal that you cook in milk with a dash or two of salt on a very low flame so as not to burn the milk or scorch the pot (I always manage to scorch it, no matter!) It cooks up in only a few minutes and thickens as it cooks so you know when it’s done.


  14. Leesie says

    As well, I know corn meal can be made much the same way for a creamy polenta consistency!

  15. says

    Wow! Really interesting, thanks a lot for all the tradition and recipe information.

  16. AL from Wedding Planner Site says

    I never though that the wedding traditions are so similar to traditional Chinese. To Chinese, the groom’s parents must meet up with the bride’s parents and seek for the agreement too. Regardless of the love between the man and woman, the parents have to agree first and it is normally final. The dish looks new to me. It looks like the dish had it a small village called “rendang”. But this wedding dish definitely look more colorful. Learn alot about the tradition in Turkey and the dish. Thanks for sharing.

  17. christine says

    First want to say that l am not Armenian but keskek is a traditional Armenian food so pls respect to other people’s culture.Enjoy it.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment Christine! I didn’t know that Armenian cuisine has keskek. It has traditionally been made in Turkey for ages. On the other hand, Armenians and we have a lot in common in our cultures as our people lived on the same land for many years. I mean it’s not surprising that both they and we have keskek in our traditions.

  18. Angie says

    I did not know that keskek was Turkish as well as Armenian. I am Greek and known of this dish since it has been cooked on the island of Samos and only there. There is an annual festival where pots of this is cooked outdoors. When cooked over fire or stovetop we call it “giorti”. Kiskek is usually finished off in the oven and only in the town where my parents are from is it done that way and the reason for this is because that particular town was firstly inhabited by the people of the island of Lesbos, which also makes Kiskek.


  1. […] with wheat today, no need to mention how healthy it is. To learn more recipes with wheat, check keskek and wheat pilaf, both of which are traditional wedding dishes. Bugday Salatasi […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *