What to eat in Turkey?
A trip to Turkey means having the opportunity to try varied and tasty dishes, belonging to a cuisine characterized by a meeting of different cultures and influences, a mixture of flavors that draw inspiration from Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and of course, Ottoman cuisine. Turkish cuisine is therefore not just kebabs, as is usually thought.
The culinary tradition in this country is mainly based on a few ingredients around which various recipes and preparations revolve. The most commonly used, from breakfast to dinner, are meat, aubergines, yogurt, green peppers, lentils and beans, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. Of course, spices, from cumin to paprika, and herbs such as mint, oregano, thyme, and dried fruit also play an important role.
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There are many variations of this dish, but the common element of each one is undoubtedly the yufka, a very thin sheet of pastry that when baked or fried is particularly crispy and light. The ingredients inside the yufka can vary from meat to cheese or vegetables.
Dolma is a dish that involves a filling, which can be vegetables or meat. The most famous and popular one to taste is the one made with vine leaves cooked in olive oil and then stuffed with rice, spices, and lemon. The one called Sarma, on the other hand, is stuffed only with rice. Midye dolma are fried mussels stuffed with rice.
This is a traditional Turkish dish eaten mainly for breakfast, but contrary to what one might think, it is salty. In fact, it consists of a soup with eggs, tomatoes, and onions. Despite being composed of many ingredients, the dish has a rare delicacy. Prepared with olive oil or sunflower oil, it is served with bread.
Lahmacun is known as the Turkish pizza and is famous also outside the country. It is made of a very fine pastry base covered with different ingredients, from meat to vegetables. It can be eaten in typical restaurants. As opposed to pizza, lahmacun is not usually prepared with cheese and the crust is thinner.
Turkey's most famous dishes include also Çorba, the traditional lentil soup. Popular throughout the country but also in nearby areas, it is a really healthy yet tasty dish. In addition to this, it is also iron-rich. Thanks to the lemon juice and spices such as coriander, cardamom, and cumin seeds, which give the dish a combination of flavors. Also not to be forgotten is the presence of onion, celery, and garlic, which make Çorba a complete specialty. Traditionally, potatoes might be used too!
A must-try ist Lokum, the so-called 'Turkish delicacies', chewy sweets made with sugar and enriched with lemon and rosewater. They can have a walnut, pistachio, or hazelnut inside and have a classic cube shape. They are very sweet, very different from the taste one is used to outside Turkey.
Another food you absolutely have to try in this country is Baklava which means sweets composed of pastry filled with pistachios, nuts, dried fruit, and lots and a lot of honey syrup. You can find them in different types. In the past, baklava used to be made only on feast days, because its preparation was usually long. Today, however, the time has been reduced, as it is possible to buy ready-made phyllo dough (the kind of thin unleavened bread) without compromising the final result.
Within Turkish dessert, Aşure has to be mentioned, since it is one of the most famous. It is a kind of pudding, of which there are various types. In particular, this dessert consists of grains, pulses, dried fruits, and nuts. According to the tradition, it is usually served on the 10th day of the so-called ‘Muharram Month’ which is the first month of the Islamic calendar.
Kahve, also known as the Turkish coffee is world-famous. Usually, it is already sweetened when it is served and the quantity of sugar is asked when you order it. The same drink but without sugar is called sade. Remember not to ask for milk to be added! Putting milk in Kahve is not common. The reason behind that is that coffee is served pure, without any other external element. In addition, it is drunk seated. There are also places in which you can find experienced people who can read the bottom and can predict the future.
This is the drink you will find on every corner in Turkey and you have to taste it. We are speaking about the truly refreshing Ayran. In particular, it is made from liquid sheep yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. The drink has a creamy texture and a slight foaminess that characterizes it. Although it is composed of very few ingredients, is rich in milk enzymes, minerals, and protein, as well as being a refreshing drink for hot weather and to counteract spicy foods.
This has been our small guide to local products to try during your stay in Turkey in general, which includes both food and drinks. If you are a real foodie and not hungry yet, we invite you to discover our other articles on food around the world such as in Slovenia, the Netherlands, and others. Follow us on Instagram @thewalkingparrot to be alerted when new articles are published!