Turkish cuisine is full of all kinds of dishes with unique tastes and can cause appetite even for the most fastidious gourmet. An abundance of meat dishes, seafood and vegetable recipes, sweets and pastries for every taste win the hearts (or rather, the stomachs) of travelers in the country every year. Many Turkish dishes are high in calories, because among their main ingredients, meat, olive and butter, flour and rice are often present. They like to fry and bake food in the oven, and many desserts are deep-fried.
Of course, in the country there are also national dishes for adherents of a healthy diet, which are prepared on the basis of vegetables, legumes and dietary meat. To learn all the subtleties and secrets of the cuisine in Turkey, we decided to conduct our own gastronomic investigation.
Kahvaltı – this is exactly what Turkish breakfast means. The name comes from the words “kahve” (coffee) and “altı” (before), which can be interpreted roughly as “food before coffee”. A true Turkish breakfast can truly be called royal, because it looks more like a buffet than a standard set of morning foods. Food in Turkey on the morning table is beautifully decorated in special dishes, where there are:
- Sliced vegetables. Fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and herbs, rich in essential vitamins, are an integral part of a morning meal.
- Cheeses The abundance of varieties strikes the gastronomic imagination: feta cheese, hard, curd, with mold, braid cheese, rustic, etc. Cheese is rightfully considered a national treasure in Turkey.
- Olives. This product is presented in various variations: on the table you can find black and green olives, with and without stones, salted and pepper. Turkish olives are of high quality and rich taste.
- Honey. The production of this delicacy is highly developed in the country, but pine honey is especially appreciated, which is undoubtedly worth a try and include in your breakfast.
- The eggs. Turks eat eggs in any form, both boiled and fried. They like to cook fried eggs in butter, and boiled eggs are often flavored with olive oil and red pepper.
- Sausages and grilled sausages. Since pork food is taboo in the country, sausages are made from chicken, turkey and beef. Sliced sausages and sausages fried in olive oil often become a guest on the Turkish morning table.
- Jam. Turkey is a real berry and fruit paradise, so it is not surprising that in the local breakfast there are numerous types of jam – from strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, oranges, cherries, figs, etc.
- Bread. If you happen to visit Turkey, we advise you to try white bread. Always fresh and fragrant, only from the stove, it has an incomparable taste and is an important component of the Turkish breakfast.
Although the word Kahvaltı implies drinking coffee, as a rule, at breakfast, the Turks drink several glasses of freshly brewed black tea, which has a high invigorating effect. And a couple of hours after a morning meal, you can enjoy a cup of strong Turkish coffee.
Turkish national cuisine offers a wide selection of first courses, among which there are various soups. Soup in Turkey is a slightly different dish than we are used to thinking: it is usually a thick substance made from ground ingredients and looks more like a soup puree. And in Turkish there is no expression “eat soup”, because they “drink it” here, so don’t be surprised if you are inviting from a local restaurant to offer you “drink excellent soup”. The most popular in Turkey are such first courses as:
The country grows many types of legumes, among which lentils (red, yellow, green) won great love. It was red lentils that became the main component of the famous national soup, which, according to various recipes, can be supplemented with onions, carrots and potatoes. This dish is necessarily seasoned with red pepper flakes and lemon juice.
Translated from Turkish, the name of this dish means “healing soup”, and there is a reasonable explanation for this. A chowder consists of vitamin-rich ingredients, and it is customary to use it in the winter for the prevention and treatment of colds. The main components of Chorbysa chiffa are red lentils, celery, onions, carrots, parsley, red and black pepper.
In traditional Turkish cuisine, a special dried mixture of flour, yogurt, red pepper, onion and tomatoes is often used to prepare first courses. This ingredient gives the soup an original taste and density. Tarkhan’s milk soup enjoys special honor here, in which, in addition to the mixture, tomato paste, garlic and butter are added.
Although red meat in Turkey is quite expensive, the Turks simply adore it, so many national Turkish dishes are prepared from meat products. The abundance of such foods allows you to diversify the daily diet with food from beef, lamb, veal and lamb, as well as chicken and turkey. Among the culinary delights that you should definitely try when visiting the country, you can highlight:
We all know such oriental cuisine as kebab, which means fried meat. In Turkey, there are many versions of this dish, each of which has its own unique recipe. Perhaps the most famous type of kebab is doner kebab, for preparation of which the meat is fried on a spit, then cut into thin slices and mixed with onions, lettuce and tomatoes, then flavored with seasonings and dressings and curled into pita bread. In fact, this is the same as shawarma, but such a concept is not used in Turkey.
Among other versions of kebab worth noting:
- Adana Kebab. The recipe for this dish comes from the city of Adana, and its main ingredient is minced meat, which is fried on the grill and served with rice, vegetables, herbs and thick pita bread.
- Iskander Kebab. The thinnest slices of red meat fried on a spit are served on slices of thick pita bread laid on a plate and are supplemented with vegetables and herbs. Such a meal necessarily includes yogurt, a special tomato sauce, and, if desired, can be poured with melted butter.
- Shish kebab. This Turkish dish is a kebab served with rice and baked pepper.
In Turkish cuisine, pilaf is often called plain white rice, boiled in water or chicken broth with the addition of butter or olive oil. Such a dish is not always served with meat and may contain Turkish chickpeas, vegetables or small noodles. Of course, pilaf is often served with chicken, lamb or beef, whose slices are separately fried together with onions.
If you are a fan of non-standard cuisine and do not know what to try in Turkey, then be sure to order a kokorech in a restaurant. Such food is prepared from the guts of young sheep, in which the guts of the animal are wrapped – the liver, heart, kidneys and lungs. All these ingredients are fried on a spit, seasoned with spices, then finely chopped and laid out on a crispy bun.
Sujuk – Turkish sausage with beef or lamb meat fat, the main difference of which from other sausages is the method of its preparation. Sujuk is not smoked or boiled, but it is dried and seasoned with plenty of various products. There is no such sausage in its raw form, so it is always fried in a pan. Sujuk is often added to scrambled eggs, toasts or spread on white bread.
The country is washed by the waters of the Mediterranean, Black, Marmara and Aegean Seas, rich in different species of fish and marine life. Of course, this fact had a great influence on the national cuisine of Turkey, where seafood dishes such as:
- Balyk-Ekmek. The literal translation of this name is bread with fish, which, in general, reflects the essence of this dish. To prepare the Balyk-Ekmek, use the fried fillet of sea bass or dorado, which is laid out on a baguette with salad, onions, tomatoes and watered with lemon.
- Mussels This unique dish, which is definitely worth a try in Turkey, consists of fillet of mussels, rice and spices. The filling is placed in large sinks, and before use, it is necessarily sprayed with lemon juice. You can find mussels in stalls by street vendors, constantly moving from one restaurant to another in search of customers.
- Anchovies. Another popular seafood in Turkish cuisine, which is cleaned during cooking, wrapped in flour and fried in vegetable oil. Laid out in an even circle, anchovies are served on a large dish with onions, lemon and herbs.
If you think that the national dishes of Turkish cuisine are not complete without meat or fish, then you are mistaken. Many different dishes are presented here, the main components of which are vegetables. An example of this is the famous Turkish dish of dolma, which is an analogue of Greek sarma. It is prepared from grape leaves, which are stuffed with rice and vegetables. You can try it in almost any restaurant.
Among vegetarian food in Turkey there is also an imam bayalida dish, which is an eggplant with vegetable filling. Eggplant dressing is made from onions, green peppers, tomatoes, garlic and herbs, seasoned with spices and tomato paste. All this is baked in the oven and served with bread and yogurt.
Most of the Turkish national dishes are used with pastries: bread, pita bread, all kinds of rolls and cakes. In the restaurant, before you bring the main food, you will definitely be put on the table a basket with fresh bakery products and sauces, both of which are offered absolutely free of charge. Many types of pastries are full-fledged separate dishes.
Simit is a sesame round bun, it is hard and soft, usually used for breakfast. You can eat it in its pure form, or cut in half and fill with cheese, vegetables and sausage. This inexpensive national pastry is in great demand and is sold in special trays and bakeries.
Börek is a very tasty Turkish pastry with different toppings, which is presented in three versions:
- Su Beregi, prepared from thinly rolled unleavened dough (yufka) with cheese fillings; oily
- Stake of bread, baked from puff pastry stuffed with potatoes or minced meat
- Homemade berek made from yufka with lore cheese, chicken, minced meat, potatoes and vegetables
If you do not know what to try from food in Turkey, then Börek is undoubtedly candidate No. 1.
In Turkish cuisine, pit is often served for soups and meat dishes – a cake with heat and heat, which literally melts in your mouth. Sometimes pita is supplemented with fillings of cheese, vegetables, sausages, chicken and meatballs, and in this case it becomes a separate dish.
Another national culinary delight, which is simply not a crime, was the gözleme cake from the finest dough, which is wrapped with various fillings in the form of minced meat, potatoes, hard cheese and lor cheese (an analogue of cottage cheese). As a rule, gözleme is fried on two sides in butter and served with tomatoes and salad.
Cold and hot appetizers in Turkey are called meze and served on the table before main dishes. Among such food, special attention should be paid to:
This cold appetizer is a thick sauce based on yogurt and white cheese, mixed with garlic, olive oil, mint and walnuts. The sauce goes well with freshly baked flat bread, but is also suitable for seasoning vegetables and meat.
Hummus is quite popular not only in Turkey, but also in Europe, but here an additional specific ingredient is used in the recipe. This food has the consistency of a paste, which in Turkish version is prepared from chickpeas with tahini paste obtained from sesame seeds. This appetizer is flavored with garlic, olive oil, lemon and served cold.
One of the features of Turkish cuisine is the fact that the Turks use unusual products for the preparation of salads. It can be pasta, peas and beans. Piyaz is a national salad, the main components of which are beans and eggs, supplemented with greens, olives, onions, tomatoes, tahini and olive oil. The salad tastes rather unusual, but worth a try.
Spicy vegetable sauce made from garlic, tomatoes, peppers, onions, tomato paste and lemon – the most delicious Turkish appetizer, which can be eaten just with bread or to complement it with meat dishes.
Among the national food of Turkey there are many sweet desserts made both from dough and based on sugar or honey syrup. The undoubted leaders here are:
A delicacy based on sugar syrup originated in Turkey several centuries ago, when the cooks at the court of the Sultan decided to impress their master with a new gourmet dish. So the first Turkish delight with rose petals was born. Today this dessert is presented in a variety of fruit variations with the addition of pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, coconut and other ingredients.
No less popular Turkish sweet, which is prepared from puff pastry, soaked in honey syrup and supplemented with a variety of nuts. In Turkey, you can find baklava in boxes, but it is better to try the product in pastry shops, where freshly prepared dessert is sold by weight.
Lokma – sweet balls of dough, fried in oil and sprinkled with sugar or honey syrup. Pretty easy to prepare, but very tasty national food, which is worth a try for all guests of Turkey. Like baklava, this is a very sweet, sugary dessert, so eating a lot of it will not work.
Tulumba is a sweet, which in many respects repeats lokma in its method of preparation, but differs from it by an oblong corrugated shape.
Turkey has its own national drinks with a unique taste and intricate method of preparation.
Turks drink black tea anytime, anywhere. This drink is usually consumed one hour after a meal. In Turkey, they usually drink locally produced tea, which is concentrated on the shores of the Black Sea coast. To prepare tea in Turkish, a special two-tiered teapot is used, in the upper section of which tea leaves are poured, subsequently poured with boiling water, and the lower section is allocated for hot water.
In this condition, the kettle is on a small fire for 20-25 minutes, after which the tea is poured into small glasses of tulips. In one sitting, the Turks drink at least 5 glasses of this strong invigorating drink, which is always served hot: after all, during the entire tea party, the kettle stays on the gas turned on.
The second place among the popular non-alcoholic drinks in Turkey is coffee. Residents of this country like to drink boiled fine-ground coffee, which is prepared in a Turk or cezve (in Turkish). Such a fairly strong drink is served in miniature cups. After drinking coffee, it is customary to wash off the bitter aftertaste with a sip of cool liquid. Therefore, in restaurants, next to a cup of coffee, you will definitely be put a glass of water.
This healthy sour-milk product is consumed in Turkey during lunch and dinner. It is made on the basis of yogurt with the addition of water and salt and is not subjected to gasification. Village ayran with foam is especially appreciated here. The drink acts as an excellent addition to meat dishes and easily replaces the notorious soda and packaged juices with the Turks.
Despite the fact that Turkey is a Muslim state, the country has its own national alcoholic drinks.
A common Turkish drink is anise-based cancer vodka. The drink has a specific grassy taste and may differ in different alcohol content (from 40 to 50% pure alcohol). Before use, the cancers are diluted with water, after which the clear drink acquires a milky hue. As a rule, they drink vodka in small sips and eat spicy food.
Sharap translated from Turkish means wine. Turkish winemakers today offer a large assortment of white, red and pink wines. It is noteworthy that in Turkey this drink has to enter into fierce competition with Chilean manufacturers, which are gaining more and more popularity in the local market. Among Turkish brands you will not find sweet and semi-sweet versions, all drinks are dry. The best quality wine brands here are considered Doluca, Sevilen Premium and Kayra.
In Turkey, fruit and berry wines are very popular – from pomegranate, mulberry, cherry, melon, etc. Such drinks are notable for their low strength, and both sweet and semi-sweet versions can be found in their assortment. In any tourist wine store you will definitely be given the opportunity to try different sorts of wines, but the price tag is also indecent, so it is best to buy wines in city supermarkets.
Street Food in Turkey
It is very popular in the country to eat in small cafes and buy takeaway food, so snack bars are found at every step. Street food in Turkey is represented by national dishes, the preparation of which does not take much time:
Lahmajun is a large round cake made of thin dough, on which minced meat with finely cut vegetables is laid out. It is cooked in a special clay oven and served with lemon and salad. One lohmajun cake costs about $ 1-1.5. Pide is also prepared in clay ovens from a strip of already thicker dough, and the stuffing here can be both minced meat, and pieces of meat, hard cheese or an egg. The portions are huge, so one pide can be enough for two. The cost of this street food, depending on the filling, ranges from $ 2-4.
We have already described this dish above, it remains only to say that doner kebab is sold on almost every corner and is inexpensive. One portion of this national dish with chicken will cost $ 1.5, with beef – $ 2.5-3.
One thing that is really worth trying in Turkey is Chi kofte. You are unlikely to find such food in other countries. This dish looks like minced meat patties, but in fact it is made from small bulgur, olive oil, tomato paste and spices. The cook mixes these ingredients, for several hours he rubs the obtained mass by hand until it is cooked from the warmth of his hands. Serve the patties on pita bread or in lettuce leaves, be sure to sprinkle with lemon and season with pomegranate sauce. The price of this treat is only $ 1 per serving.
Finding fish among street food in Turkey is not so easy: usually dishes like balyk-ecmek are sold in coastal areas, and not on city streets. And if you want to try fresh seafood, then it’s better to go to trusted restaurants.
Turkish cuisine can rightfully be considered a national treasure. The abundance of its dishes allows you to not only try various dishes, but also get acquainted with original recipes that were previously unknown to you. And the taste qualities of a seemingly familiar food will completely change your idea of the culinary possibilities of the Turkish people.
Appetizing video: street food in Turkey.