Turkish cuisine is a combination of flavours and ingredients are blended together to form dishes historically influenced by a number of cultures including the Greeks, Ottomans, middle eastern and Balkans. Traditional dishes vary from region to region.
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. Popular choices are lentil or tomato soup but if you are adventurous with your culinary preferences try tripe, sheep brain or tongue soup.
Kumpir is simply a jacket potato with a crisp outer skin and soft inside, mashed up with butter. Choose a variety of fillings to top it off, including cheese, sausage, pickles, and Russian salad. In Istanbul, the most populararea to eat it is Ortakoy.
Pide or Lahmacun:
Pide is a popular dish in lokantas, the Turkish restaurants serving cheap and traditional food. A thin crust of pastry is covered with toppings including cheese, egg, diced meat, chicken or tuna and then it is put it into a high heat stone oven. The nearest equivalent western food is pizza. Another version which is lighter is lahmacun. Both are traditionally served with salad. This is an ideal option for vegetarians as many fillings are available.
Kofte 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 kofte is unusual as it is raw meatballs originating from the south east of Turkey and these are traditionally eaten as a snack or appetizer.
Possibly the most popular Turkish food is baklava which suits anyone with a sweet tooth. Taking it influence from the Ottoman Empire, it is layers of filo pastries, filled with nuts and then covered with a sweet honey or syrup.
There are more than 40 different types of kebabs in Turkey but the most popular is the traditional street kebab. 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. (Yogurt, salt and water).
Mezes are appetizers, traditionally eaten before a meal or on their own as a snack. Popular mezes include acılı ezme, a hot paste made from peppers, patlıcan salatası (cold aubergine salad) and cacik (yogurt, cucumber and garlic). Mezes are also the traditional food served in the Meyhanes of Istanbul.
Cheap, tasty and very filling, Gozleme 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 grill and normally accompanied with tea or Ayran, it is a perfect choice for lunch and ideal for people travelling on a budget.
Menemen is cooked quick and easy. Peppers, onions and tomatoes are fried in a pan and then eggs are scrambled into the mixture. It is served with fresh bread and delicious with homegrown olives.