Turkish Cuisine - Explore Turkey one dish at a time
Turkey is an ancient land and as a land bridge between two major continents, Europe and Asia, it has seen huge changes over the centuries. It has taken flavours from all over the world and blended them into a cuisine that is all their own.
That unique flavour now sets Turkish food apart as some of the world’s best. If you are dreaming of your own tour along the Silk Road or trip to Turkey, then this list is sure to get your stomach rumbling.
When you are out and about
Grilled Corn: A street food must. It might seem like just a cob of corn but the street vendors who grill these have got it down to a fine art. Follow your nose and you’ll find the perfect snack to take with you on your way.
Kumpir: If you don’t have time to sit down for a full meal but you are hungry, then grab a Kumpir. It is a baked potato that is cut open and filled with butter and cheese. From there you are free to add whatever toppings you want like sausage, yoghurt, olives or salad.
Dondurma: It’s one of the most resilient ice creams in the world. It doesn’t melt easily and it has a slight chewiness to the texture thanks to the mastic, a natural resin that comes from native trees. The uniqueness doesn’t stop there though, there is a good chance that you’ll get a show from the playful ice cream sellers.
Gozleme: This doughy pancake, filled with spinach, cheese or anything else you like is sure to keep the hunger pains away as you explore the city. It is usually cooked on a big flat hot plate and cut up making it easy to share. The flavour however, makes it not so easy to share!
Something light to start
Meze: You could make a whole meal out of the range of cold appetisers that make up a meze. It’s a great way to share food and taste many flavours like stuffed vine leaves, beans, salads, spreads and of course delicious Greek bread.
Börek: Börek is a flaky and delicious pastry that is usually filled with spinach, cheese or minced meat. You will sometimes find it rolled and served like lasagna.
Menemen: The perfect breakfast option, Menemen is a mix of scrambled eggs, spices and sautéed vegetables. Start your day of right with a plate of this and a strong Turkish coffee.
Kofte: Order a plate of kofta to share to start. A traditional Turkish staple, these patties or balls are made of minced beef or lamb. You can get them as part of a stew or sandwich but as a starter they are perfect with yoghurt.
The main event
Manti: You might think you are in Italy at first glance but the Turkish have created a ravioli all of their own. The pillows are actually handmade dumplings filled with minced beef or lamb. The dish is then served with a rich yoghurt sauce and spices.
Shish Kebab: If you are after something simple then a shish kebab may be the ticket. Grilled meat on a skewer, usually served with something simple like rice, fries and salad is sure to keep the whole family happy. On top of that, it is still classic Turkish cuisine that is enjoyed throughout the nation.
Hünkar Beğendi: Hünkar Beğendi translates to ‘the Sultan likes’. It was apparently served to the Sultan in the 1600s and he loved the dish - earning it this illustrious title. You can now eat like a Sultan and enjoy the tender lamb stew served on a bed of pureed eggplant.
Pottery Kebab: For something a little bit different, order the pottery kebab. You will be served a sealed clay pot that contains your stew. It has been slow cooked inside the pot and when ready it is brought to your table before the waiter cracks it open revealing your meal. Definitely worth ordering just for the experience!
To finish the meal
Lokum: You might know it as Turkish Delight but the fresh local made lokum is something special compared to store varieties available back home. You can find every flavour under the sun with all kinds of combinations including dates, pistachios and of course rose flavoured.
Baklava: Turkish baklava is a masterpiece. It is made with layers upon layers of pastry, handfuls of chopped nuts and lashings of sweet syrup. You’ll find it everywhere throughout the country and it might be written here as a dessert but really, there is no wrong time to enjoy this flaky pastry.
Apple Tea: No meal would be complete without a hot cup of apple tea. Turkish apple tea is usually made with real apples and it is a sweet warming drink that is best enjoyed with either of the gorgeous treats above!
Turkey is an amazing country filled with ancient sites, amazing innovation and incredible food. It is important to research the areas that you intend to visit and check for any safety advice on sites like http://smartraveller.gov.au/. Before you leave make sure you have checked all official advice and warnings and have international travel insurance* that is right for you.
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