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The fervor surrounding this humble soup borders on the obsessive, with upmarket aficionados and traditional enthusiasts alike staking out the nearest and best purveyor of this distinctive phenomenon.
The spot for those who live and work around Bağdat Caddesi, on the Asian side of Istanbul is Tarihi Şen Lokantası in Bostanci, and the manic craving is for Beyran çorbası, an Antep red pepper and garlic fusion, made with slow cooked lamb’s broth, rice, and shards of succulent meat.
Hailing from Gaziantep, the cuisine of which was recently added to UNESCO‘s list for gastronomic preservation, the first Beyran restaurant opened its doors circa 1885, with the city serving up capsaicin induced soup lust ever since. Beyran çorbası is a classic breakfast soup, and considered one of the most iconic dishes of the region, with stark devotees forming lines in the morning to get their fix, which might sound like a radical concept if you’re a granola and fruit in the AM kind of person.
Its searing heat and piquant flavors thrust warmth deep inside your bones on chilly days, with converts swearing it gives strength, energy, and a boost to the immune system. Though Beyran typically takes 10-12 hours to cook, (the stock is generally prepared and left to cook overnight), the rest is made to order. Garlic and pepper receive a touch of heat in a cooking vessel that doubles as a serving dish, then a ladle of broth and a handful of meat is quickly added and voila.
A family owned business since 1962, Tarihi Şen Lokantası, is now run by Ramazon Damgacı, the son of the original owner. Due to high demand, they began serving a collection of outstanding traditional Turkish soups, including Beyran çorbası a year and a half ago, at the behest of their chef, who used to cook for the Presidential Palace.
They also make a variety of breads including whole wheat and pide (the round plain style, not the boat shaped pizza) in their own wood fired oven, using a house made starter, giving the bread unique flavor and superior crumb.
The lokanta also makes an exclusive juice from the pomegranate flower, incorporating various spices, which give it a mellow flavor reminiscent of mulled wine–excellent either hot or chilled down.