Pastırma or basturma,[1] also called pastourma[2] bastirma,[3] as well as basterma,[4] is a highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef that is part of the cuisines of a number of countries.

Etymology and history

The word pastırma comes from the Turkish verb bastırmak which means "to press".[5][6]

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink writes that pastırma is the word Ottomans used for a type of Byzantine cured beef that was called paston.[7] The Oxford Companion for Food says that a Byzantine dried meat delicacy was "a forerunner of the pastirma of modern Turkey".[8] According to Johannes Koder, an expert in Byzantine studies, paston could mean either salted meat or salted fish, while akropaston means salted meat.[9] Andrew Dalby gives the definition of paston as "salted fish" and akropaston apakin as "well-salted fillet steak".[10] Gregory Nagy gives the definition of akropaston as "smoked", describing apakin as "a kind of salami sausage, probably similar to pastourma".[11]

Other scholars have given different accounts of the historical origins of the Ottoman pastırma. The armies of settled, agricultural peoples had cereal based diet, and some Turkish and Bulgarian scholars have written that certain medieval fighters who kept dried and salted meat under their saddles had an edge over opponents who ate mostly cereals. Ammianus Marcellinus wrote that the Huns warmed this meat by placing it between their legs or on the backs of their horses.[12] Clifford Wright, a recipient of the James Beard Cookbook of the year award has written that pastırma is "originally from Turkey or Armenia".[13] Pastırma is mentioned in Mahmud of Kashgar's Diwan Lughat al-Turk and Evliya Çelebi's Seyahatname.[14]

The word pastrami may be a Yiddish construction that combined salami with pastırma or one of the similar linguistic variations of the word (pastram in Romanian, pastromá in Russian and basturma in Armenian).[15]

Preparation and usage

Pastırma is usually made from water buffalo or beef, but other meats can also be used. In Egypt pastırma is made not only with beef, but with lamb, water buffalo, goat and camel as well.[6] Some pastırmas are made with horsemeat.[16] Different cuts of meat may be used; a single cow can produce 26 different "types" of pastırma. Fillet, shank, leg and shoulder cuts are used for the best quality pastırmas.[5][14] It is usually made during the months of October and November.[17]

The meat is salted and rinsed before being dried and pressed. After the drying period the meat is covered with a spice paste called çemen. Çemen is made from a paste of ground fenugreek seeds, Turkish red pepper[18] and mashed garlic.[19][20] The dried product is covered with the wet paste and left to dry again. The entire process takes approximately one full month.[14] Pastırma is classified as an "intermediate moisture food". Lowering the moisture level is a form of food preservation that hinders the growth of microorganisms, and the çemen paste "is used to control surface mold growth during storage".[19] Other functions of the çemen include improved flavor, characteristic red coloring, prevention of further drying, and antimicrobal effects.[21]


Pastırma can be used as a topping for pide bread,[22] hamburgers,[23] and hummus.[24] It can be as a filling for a "burek" that is made with kadayıf instead of the traditional filo dough.[25] It may be combined with potato to make a filling for traditional bureks as well.[26]

It is also a common addition to many of the traditional vegetable dishes, especially the tomato and fava bean stew called kuru fasulye, but also cabbage (pastırmalı lahana), chickpeas (pastırmalı nohut), asparagus (pastırmalı kuşkonmaz)[27] and spinach (pastırmalı ıspanak).[28][29] It can also be used to make cheesy pull-apart bread.[30]

In Turkey pastıma can be eaten as a breakfast dish, often with eggs, or as a meze small plate accompanied by alcohol like the traditional anise-flavored liquor called rakı. It is commonly used as an ingredient for omelettes and may also be used to make a variation of eggs benedict.[31][32]


Turkey produces around 2041 tons of pastırma each year.[5] The pastırma from Kayseri is particularly well known.[33] In their 1893 report the British Foreign Office note that Kayseri, which they call Cesarea, "is specially renowned for the preparation of basturma (pemmican)".[34] In Kastamonu, which produces around 200 tons of pastırma each year, çemen is made using garlic that is locally produced by the farming villages of Taşköprü.[35]

Armenians are well-known for their culinary arts and their pastırmas are highly regarded.[36]

See also


  1. Ramesh C. Ray; Montet Didier (21 August 2014). Microorganisms and Fermentation of Traditional Foods. CRC Press. p. 263. ISBN 978-1-4822-2308-8.
  2. Clifford Wright (26 September 2003). The Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors D'Oeuvre, Meze, and More. Harvard Common Press. p. 291. ISBN 978-1-55832-227-1.,
  3. Sameh Wadi (14 April 2015). The New Mediterranean Table: Modern and Rustic Recipes Inspired by Traditions Spanning Three Continents. Page Street Publishing. p. 82. ISBN 978-1-62414-104-1.
  4. Ghillie Basan (2007). Middle Eastern Kitchen. Hippocrene Books. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-7818-1190-3.
  5. 1 2 3 Kilic, Birol (2009). "Current trends in traditional Turkish meat products and cuisine". LWT - Food Science and Technology. 42 (10): 1581–1589. doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2009.05.016. ISSN 0023-6438. Archived from the original on 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  6. 1 2 Gagaoua, Mohammed; Boudechicha, Hiba-Ryma (2018-06-01). "Ethnic meat products of the North African and Mediterranean countries: An overview". Journal of Ethnic Foods. 5 (2): 83–98. doi:10.1016/j.jef.2018.02.004. ISSN 2352-6181. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  7. Kraig, Bruce (2013-01-31). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. OUP USA. ISBN 978-0-19-973496-2. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18. “When the Ottomans settled in Istanbul they also adopted a number of Byzantine dishes, one of which was a form of cured beef called paston and which the Turks called pastirma […] It became and remains a specialty of Kayseri in Cappadocia in west central Turkey.”
  8. Davidson, Alan (2006). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-280681-9. Archived from the original on 2018-06-03. Retrieved 2018-07-16. “This is certainly true of Byzantine cuisine. Dried meat, a forerunner of the pastirma of modern Turkey, became a delicacy.”
  9. Brubaker, Leslie; Linardou, Kallirroe (2007). Eat, Drink, and be Merry (Luke 12:19): Food and Wine in Byzantium : Papers of the 37th Annual Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, in Honour of Professor A.A.M. Bryer. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 47-62. ISBN 978-0-7546-6119-1.
  10. Dal, Andrew (2010-06-30). Tastes of Byzantium: The Cuisine of a Legendary Empire. I.B.Tauris. p. 189. ISBN 978-0-85771-731-3.
  11. Nagy, Gregory (2014-01-02). Greek Literature in the Byzantine Period: Greek Literature. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-06626-9. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  12. Dalby, Andrew (1992). "Greeks abroad: social organisation and food among the ten thousand". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 112: 16–30. doi:10.2307/632150. ISSN 0075-4269. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  13. Wright, Clifford (2003-09-26). The Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors D'Oeuvre, Meze, and More. Harvard Common Press. ISBN 978-1-55832-227-1.
  14. 1 2 3 Kaban, Güzin (2013-12-01). "Sucuk and pastırma: Microbiological changes and formation of volatile compounds". Meat Science. 59 th International Congress of Meat Science and Technology , 18-23 August 2013 Izmir/Turkey. 95 (4): 912–918. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.03.021. ISSN 0309-1740. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  15. harry g. levine (2007). "pastrami land: the jewish deli in new york city". Contexts. 6 (3,): 67–. JSTOR 41801065.
  16. Lorenzo, José M.; Munekata, Paulo E. S.; Campagnol, Paulo Cezar Bastianello; Zhu, Zhenzhou; Alpas, Hami; Barba, Francisco J.; Tomasevic, Igor (2017-12-01). "Technological aspects of horse meat products – A review". Food Research International. 102: 176–183. doi:10.1016/j.foodres.2017.09.094. ISSN 0963-9969. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  17. Toldra¡, Fidel (2014-10-27). Handbook of Fermented Meat and Poultry. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-52267-7.
  18. Nazilli Ticaret Odası. Kurutulmuş Toz Biber Üretimi - Bozdoğan. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  19. 1 2 Sych, J. (2003-01-01). "Intermediate Moisture Foods". Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition (Second Edition). Oxford: Academic Press. pp. 3337–3342. ISBN 978-0-12-227055-0. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  20. Yetim, Hasan; Sagdic, Osman; Dogan, Mahmut; Ockerman, Herbert W. (2006). "Sensitivity of three pathogenic bacteria to Turkish cemen paste and its ingredients". Meat Science. 74 (2): 354–358. doi:10.1016/j.meatsci.2006.04.001. ISSN 0309-1740. Archived from the original on 2018-07-18. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  21. Erkmen, Osman; Bozoglu, T. Faruk (2016-04-13). Food Microbiology: Principles into Practice. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-119-23784-6.
  22. Pastırmalı Pide Tarifi. Nursel'in Evi. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  23. Pastırmalı Hamburger ve Lahana Salatası Tarifleri. Arda'nın Mutfağı | 1.Bölüm (01.11.2015). Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  24. Pastırmalı Humus Tarifi. Nursel'in Evi. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  25. Pastırmalı Kadayıf Böreği Tarifi. Pelin Karahan'la Nefis Tarifler. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  26. Migros Türkiyeundefined (Director). Patatesli Pastırmalı Rulo Börek. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  27. Migros Türkiyeundefined (Director). Pastırmalı Kuşkonmaz Tarifi. Event occurs at 119 seconds. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  28. Gurme Tarifler-Pastırmalı Ispanaklı Sote. TV Kayseri. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  29. Halıcı, Feyzi (1991). Üçüncü Milletlerarası Yemek Kongresi: Türkiye, 7-12 Eylül 1990. Konya Kültür ve Turizm Vakfı. ISBN 978-975-95525-1-0.
  30. Migros Türkiye. Pastırmalı Kaşarlı Somun Ekmek Tarifi. Event occurs at 99 seconds. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  31. Arda'nın Mutfağı. Yumurtanın En Lezzetli Hali - Eggs Benedict Tarifi - Arda'nın Mutfağı. Archived from the original on 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  32. Migros Türkiye. Pastırmalı Yumurta Tarifi. Archived from the original on 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  33. Show TV. Turgay Başyayla ile Lezzet Yolculuğu Kayseri'de. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  34. Office, Great Britain Foreign (1894). Diplomatic and Consular Reports: Annual series. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2018-07-28. Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  35. Tarım TV. Sarımsağı kadar pastırması da ünlü. Archived from the original on 2018-07-31. Retrieved 2018-07-31.
  36. Zubaida, Sami; Tapper, Richard; Roden, Claudia (2000). A taste of thyme: culinary cultures of the Middle East. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. p. 35. ISBN 978-1-86064-603-4.


  • Alan Davidson, The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press, Oxford 1999. ISBN 0-19-211579-0.
  • Maria Kaneva-Johnson, The Melting Pot. Balkan Food and Cookery, Prospect Books, 1995. ISBN 0-907325-57-2.
  • Media related to Pastirma at Wikimedia Commons
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