Garlic Stew in a Clay Pot | Turkish Eats

This is a traditional recipe that we have seen in two historical cookbooks (Melce-ut Tabbahin & Sihhat Matbahi) both published during the Ottoman period in Ottoman script.

The meat is cooked in an unglazed clay pot.  The pot is sealed with a piece of dough made of flour and water to trap the moisture and flavors during cooking.  If sealing the uneven lid of an old fashioned clay pot is not for you, feel free to use a Dutch Oven made of cast iron.

The meat is cooked at only 250F for a long time (~ 4 hours). Other than the fact that it takes such a long time to cook, it is a very simple and immensely rewarding recipe.  


  • 3 lb sirloin cut into 1 inch cubes
  • Garlic (~ 4 oz), peeled
  • 8 pearl onions (or 2 medium onions)
  • 1.5 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Flour & water (for sealing the clay pot)


  1. Prehat the oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Chop and sautee the onions in olive oil, set aside. If you are using pearl onions, sautee them whole.
  3. If you are using elephant garlic or similar, cut the garlic cloves into smaller pieces.
  4. Begin filling the pot with a layer of sirloin cubes. Sprinkle some of the salt, black pepper, cumin and garlic on the meat. Continue with alternating layers of meat, garlic, salt and spices. 
  5. Put the sauteed onions on top.
  6. Add 1/4 cup vinegar and 1/4 cup water.
  7. To seal the pot, prepare dough from 1 cup flour and approximately 1/4 cup water. Close the lid and seal it with the dough as shown below.
  8. Place the pot on the center rack of the oven and cook for four hours. During cooking, the dough seal will harden and its color will turn light brown as shown below. Let the pot cool for about 30 minutes before you attempt to open the cover. You may have to use a sharp knife to go through the seal and crack the dough at several points around the rim. Be sure to be patient during this process not to damage your pot.
  9. The result will be the most rewarding, stew that you can ever imagine to taste. Serve this recipe with classic Turkish rice pilaf but be sure to use beef instead of chicken broth.
© Mehmet Ozturk 2017