There is more to taste than “kebap and döner” in Turkish cuisine! Delicious plates ranging from all kinds of “meze”, “çöp şiş”, “mantı”, “dolma”, “börek” and “kumpir” are some of the mouthwatering culinary selections that you cannot find anywhere else, but in Turkey. Turkish cuisine is deemed to be among the richest in the world. There are different options whether you like non-spicy food, vegetables or mostly meat-based plates. Turkish sweets accompanied with the traditional Turkish coffee is mandatory following a delightful meal.
Make sure to cherish your time trying out the masterpieces we will recommend below.
Traditional origins of the Turkish cuisine dates back to Ottoman period, marked by a diversity of rich flavors. It represents a unique mixture of the Middle Eastern, Balkans and Central Asian gastronomy cultures where you will find all kinds of dishes.
Although it is true that Turkish cuisine is mostly meat-based with plates such as “kebap” (minced meat skewers traditionally grilled on charcoal fire), “döner”, “lahmacun” (Turkish pizza with meat), “ızgara köfte” (meatballs) served with “pide” bread and grilled vegetables, you can also easily find savory vegetarian options. Beşiktaş is a district where you can find many famous local places such as Şöhretler Beşiktaş Köftecisi and Midyeci Ahmet.
“Zeytinyağlı” dishes, that are cooked without meat in olive oil, are loved in Turkey. The most delicious plant-based “zeytinyağlı” plates can be found on the Aegean coast. Some typical examples include “yaprak sarma” (wine leaves that are wrapped up with rice filling), “dolma “(stuffed vegetables) and “fasulye” (green beans). They are mostly included in the menus of any fish restaurant or meyhane.
Alternatively, if you would like to try something more local, you should taste “pilav “(rice that can be eaten plain or with variety of ingredients) accompanied with “kuru fasulye” which is a white bean stew.
Mantı (Turkish dumplings) and gözleme (salty pancakes) filled with different ingredients are also tasteful traditional selections for those who like different kinds of pastries.
Also, you can find “turşu” (spicy pickled peppers and cucumbers) almost in any restaurant, as it is sort of traditional to eat it with the main dish. Side dishes are indispensable parts of almost all dinner tables in Turkey. Some popular examples are “cacık”, “hummus”, “babagannuş”, “gavurdağı salatası” and “haydari”. You can find various selections at fish or kebap restaurants or local meyhanes in Beyoğlu, Beşiktaş Çarşı, Etiler or Arnavutköy.
You cannot conclude your trip without indulging in the most authentic desserts, when in Turkey. It’s quite traditional to serve Turkish coffee together with “lokum” (Turkish delight) after a savory meal. “Lokum” comes in all kinds of forms and flavors, including pistachios, rose or pomegranate.
Traditional Turkish tea, “çay”, which is black and served in special cups, is also an integral part of the daily life. Do not be surprised, if you will be offered tea right after eating at the restaurants. There are many other amazing local desserts, such as worldly-famous “baklava”, “künefe”, “kadayıf”, “cezerye” or “sütlaç” that can be findly almost in all restaurants or cafes.
We believe that you cannot really explore the local gastronomic habits of the country you’re visiting, unless you get familiar with the street food that can be found at the marketplaces or city centers. Therefore, exploring the hidden flavors of Turkey is strongly advised.
“Kokoreç” comes on top of the must-try street foods lists, even though some may feel skeptical about it at the beginning. It consists of marinated meat, which is made out of heavily seasoned lamb intestines. You can eat “kokoreç” as a sandwich. You will also find lots of small cars selling “köfte”,”midye dolma” which is stuffed mussels or simply “tavuk-pilav” (chicken with rice) on the streets. “Çiğ köfte” is also loved by many and can be eaten as a roll. It is a southeastern flavor that consists of finely kneaded bulgur, spices, tomatoes and beef.
If you would like to opt for more simple things, you can find a variety of pastries sold on the streets. Turkish people like to have breakfast with “simit” or “poğaça”. Simit is the most typical Turkish bagel topped with sesame seeds, while “poğaça” is a sort of bun that is sold plain or filled with different ingredients, such as cheese/olives/sausage. You can find people buying those from the local pastry shops or street vendors on their way to work, in the mornings.
Another very authentic thing that you’ll find in the streets of Turkey is roasted chestnuts to warm you up in cool winter days!
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