Turkish cuisine is fast making a name for itself on the worldwide culinary platform. The combination of flavors and ingredients are blended together to form dishes historically influenced by a number of cultures including the Greeks, Ottomans, middle eastern and Balkans. Turkish cuisine promises more than kebab and doner with its cooking methods, variety and taste. Traditional dishes will vary from region to region therefore it is impossible to fit Turkish cuisine into a short list. So we bring you the most known and most popular Turkish food dishes from across the country and worldwide:
- 1. Corba: Delicious Soup. It may be hard to believe, but the simple soup dish is very popular in Turkey so do not be surprised to find some Turks eating it for breakfast.
- 2. Kumpir: Baked Potatoes. Kumpir is another form of street food that is popular in the beach side resorts and cities of Turkey. It is simply a jacket potato with a crisp outer skin and soft inside, mashed up with butter. You can choose a variety of fillings to top it off, including cheese, sausage, ham, pickles and Russian salad. If you are in Istanbul, the most popular area to eat it is Ortakoy.
- 3. Pide or Lahmacun: Pide is a popular dish in Turkish restaurants serving cheap and traditional Turkish food. A thin crust of pastry is covered with toppings including cheese, egg, diced meat, chicken or tuna and then it is put into a high heat stone oven. Another version which is lighter is lahmacun served with a topping of minced meat, salad and lemon juice on bread. Both are traditionally served with salad.
- 4. Köfte: Köfte is the Turkish version of Meatballs. Sold in a wrap as street food or served on a plate with rice and salad in restaurants. There are many different types of kofte and their taste will vary depending on the region that recipe originates from. Çiğ Köfte is unusual as it is spicy raw meatballs made with bulgur, onion, pepper and tomato pastes, spices and herbs – all kneaded together and cooked. It is originating from the south east of Turkey and is traditionally eaten as a snack or appetizer served in a lettuce leaf.
- 5. Street Kebap: There are more than 40 different types of kebabs in Turkey but the most popular is the traditional street kebap. Large skewers of rotating chicken or beef are cooked slowly before the cook slices stripes from the outside of the skewer, places them in a pastry wrap, and then fills it with lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. A street kebab is especially delicious with a glass of Ayran (drink with yoghurt, salt and water).
- 6. Gözleme: Cheap, tasty and very filling, gözleme is a popular street food sold at local markets. Traditionally considered the working man’s food, it is layered pastry filled with a variety of fillings including spinach, cheese, potatoes and parsley. Cooked on a large special grill and normally accompanied with tea or Ayran.
- 7. Menemen: It is not often seen on restaurant menus but most kitchens will prepare it for you, as it is quick and easy. It is made with peppers, onions and tomatoes fried in a pan by adding scrambled eggs. It is served with fresh bread and homegrown olives.
- 8. Şiş Kebap: Turkey is the country that introduced the world with the skewered meat or kebabs. Add lamb to the list of chicken or fish being served on a wooden or metal rod and you are relishing Şiş Kebap. Your mouth will start watering as soon as you smell and see the skewered meats when served hot out of charcoal.
- 9. Döner: If you like subs and sandwiches, you are definitely going to love döners. Try kebab sandwich prepared with slow cooked chicken, lamb, or beef meat served with vegetables, spices, and garlic yogurt. It is goodness and fresh flavors packed inside the pita bread. Try it with hummus or traditional Turkey dips to elevate the taste. The meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie and is full of flavors.
- 10. İskender Kebap is long strips of lamb cooked in tomato sauce with butter melted on top and served over rice and pita bread with yoghurt. It is named after a Master (İskender Efendi) from Ottoman Empire who lived in Bursa. It is a popular food in Turkey that is best have along pita bread.
- 11. Yaprak Sarma: Vine leaves wrapped around a filling of rice and onion flavored with mint, currant, pepper and cinnamon are steamed to prepare what is an exquisitely healthy Yaprak Sarma. This dish has an influence of Ottoman Empire and is famous from Middle East to South Eastern Europe. The preparation of this dish is a bit time-consuming but it is all worth it.
- 12. İmam Bayıldı: Stuffed with a tomato, onion and garlic mixture this aubergine entree is filled with rice, bulgur, and other veggies, is baked in the oven and served with pilaf. There is a funny anecdote related to its name that an Imam fainted when he heard the cost of ingredients that go into the making of this dish.
- 13. Taze Fasulye: Green beans cooked with tomato and/or tomato paste and of course onion.
- 14. Karnıyarık: Fried eggplants with a minced meat, onion, parsley, garlic and tomato filling. This dish is a must.
- 15. Mücver: The main ingredients of this popular Turkish dish are shredded zucchini, eggs and flour. A very common cooking preference adds white cheese, green onions and mint. It is lightly fried in vegetable or olive oil, and served hot as a side dish.
- 16. Mantı is the Turkish version of the dumplings and deserves much fame as it is a treasured culinary tradition in Turkey. Mantı comes in many different varieties. The filling may vary, the recipe may change, but when you say “mantı” the first thing that comes to mind is a small pouch of thin dough filled with minced, spicy meat, boiled in water and served with garlicky yogurt and hot butter with red pepper powder or tomato paste.
To the above meals we can add the famous Turkish sweets the most popular of which are: baklava, possibly the most popular Turkish delicacy, Locum, Halva (pishmaniye), Mosaic Pasta (a chocolate cake with broken biscuits), Güllaç (a uniquely textured treat that is made with dough, milk, rosewater, nuts, and pomegranate seeds), künefe… and of course Turkish coffee… Bon appétit!
Best Local Restaurants in Istanbul to Eat Turkish Food: https://istanbulclues.com/best-local-restaurants-in-istanbul/