Turkish Cuisine

Tour Details

Turkish Cuisine

Turkish cuisine is renowned as one of the world’s best. It is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world because of the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients, its flavours and tastes that appeal to all palates and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The cuisine originated in central Asia, the first home of the Turks, and then evolved with the contributions of the inland and Mediterranean cultures with which Turks interacted after their arrival in Anatolia.
Turkish cuisine is in a sense a bridge between far-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, with the accent always on enhancing the natural taste and flavour of the ingredients. There is no one dominant element in Turkish cuisine, like sauces in French and pasta in Italian cuisines.

While the Palace cuisine was developing in İstanbul, local cuisines in Anatolia were multiplying in several regions, all displaying different geographical and climactic characteristics. These cuisines, after remaining within regional borders for centuries, are now being transported to the big cities and their suburbs as a consequence of large-scale urbanisation and migration towards new urban centres. As a result, the national Turkish cuisine has been enriched by the contribution of a great number of local recipes.

Turkey is self-sufficient in While the Palace cuisine was developing in İstanbul, local cuisines in Anatolia were multiplying in several regions, all displaying different geographical and climactic characteristics. These cuisines, after remaining within regional borders for centuries, are now being transported to the big cities and their suburbs as a consequence of large-scale urbanisation and migration towards new urban centres. As a result, the national Turkish cuisine has been enriched by the contribution of a great number of local recipes.food production and produces enough for export as well. This means that Turkish food is usually made from fresh, local ingredients and is all the tastier for it

A main meal will usually start with soup and the meze, a variety of small cold and hot dishes, which are made for sharing. In many restaurants, a waiter will bring these around on a tray for you to look and make your choice. Tarama salad, cacık (tzatziki), dolma (vine leaves or peppers stuffed with rice), börek (pastries), beyaz peynir (similar to feta) arnavut ciğeri (cubed fried liver) are amongst the many types of mezes found in most of the restaurants.

The main course is usually meat or fish. Turks always eat bread with their meal and main courses are usually served with rice. Typically, çoban salatası, a salad made of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, will be offered as a side dish. Lamb is the most popular meat and prepared in a variety of ways, including “şiş kebap” (grilled cubes of seasoned meat on a skewer). “Köfte”, which are like small lamb meatballs and are well worth trying. Those who prefer something hot and spicy should try “Adana kebap”, which is made of minced lamb but with the addition of hot peppers and spices formed around a flat skewer. There are numerous variations and regional specialities of kebap. Somewhat rich but very tasty, is the İskender or Bursa kebab, named respectively after Alexander the Great and the town in which it originated. It consists of slices of döner meat laid over small bites of a freshly cooked flat bread and covered with tomato sauce and hot butter all served with yoghurt. Turks are traditionally fond of stews called sulu yemek or ev yemeği (home cooked) and therefore there are many restaurants offering these foods which are usually displayed in the entrance of the restaurant in large glass displays making it easier to choose.

Fish and seafood restaurants are widely found in Istanbul, other big cities and in the coastal regions. Fish is usually grilled to bring out its natural flavour and there is a wide variety of seafood mezes’ including midye tava (fried mussels), kalamar (calamari), and midye dolma (mussels stuffed with seasoned rice). It is worth asking for the catch of the day but some of the tastiest fish are levrek (sea bass), çupra (sea bream) and kalkan (turbot). Fish is usually sold by weight in restaurants where some customers prefer to make their choice from the fish offered on a large display.

Eating Out in Turkey

Restaurants are very much part of Turkish cultural life, with a huge array of regional varieties, styles and locations at your fingertips, from gourmet restaurants and Bosphorus-side cafes in the heart of Istanbul to charming coastal fish restaurants, traditional Turkish kebap houses and lokantas where home made dishes are the order of the day, Turkey is a food-lover’s paradise for all tastes and budgets.

Eating three meals a day is the norm in Turkey, starting with a Turkish breakfast, typically consisting of bread, beyaz peynir (white cheese, similar to feta), butter, honey or jam and Turkish tea – but will also often include boiled eggs or menemen (omelette), olives, tomato & cucumber salad and sliced beef sausages. A main meal, eaten either at lunch or dinner, will usually start with soup or meze, a selection of small cold and hot dishes which are made for sharing – anything from hummus and dolma (anything stuffed with rice such as vine leaves or peppers) to kalamar (fried calamari) and aubergine dips.

Fast Food

Although much of Turkish food culture revolves around sit-down meals, food on the go is also popular for snacking – although not as a means to replace sit-down meals with family and friends. Börek (filled fried or baked filo pastry), simit (bread ring) and poğagça (buns) are popular snacks, as are those bought from the array of street vendors: from döner kebab and pide or lahmacun (types of Turkish pizza) to roasted chestnuts, stuffed mussels and corn on the cob.

Drinks

The traditional tipple is rakı, a clear, strong aniseed based spirit, sometimes known as “lion’s milk”; turning cloudy when water, ice or soda is added. Rakı is so entwined with eating meze, that the meze spread is often called a rakı table.

Did you know that wine production is said to date back to 4000 BC in Eastern Turkey? Today, Turkey is undergoing a renaissance in wine-making, with some excellent results in recent years from the big domestic players such as Doluca and Kavaklidere, as well as a whole host of newer brands and grape varieties from Cappadocia and the Aegean regions. Those who prefer beer will not be disappointed with the locally produced Efes pilsner and its light, dark and extra strong varieties, now exported around the world, as well as the Troy, Tuborg, and an increasing range of international brands. Locally produced vodka, brandy, whisky and gin are also available at much lower prices than imported brands, but can be somewhat rough and ready.

Popular soft drinks include fruit juices such as vişne (sour cherry juice) and şeftali (peach) – and ayran, a salted yoghurt drink, often enjoyed with meals at home, in restaurants or as a thirst-quencher from the corner shop. Bottled mineral water or su is cheap and easily available and fizzy drinks are sold everywhere.

Turkish tea or çay is flavoursome and aromatic when freshly brewed. This is done in a combined kettle/tea pot placed directly on the hob and drunk from small tulip-shaped glasses, always black and usually with plenty of sugar. Convenience however is catching on to the cities, and nowadays, unless you specifically ask for brewed Turkish tea, many hotels and restaurants will present you with a teabag in a cup and saucer. Herbal teas are also widely available – kuşburnu çayı (rosehip) adı çayı (sage tea) and ıhlamur çayı (linden flower tea) being the more common varieties.

Introduced to Europe via the Ottoman Empire in the late 19th Century, Turkish coffee is an indulgent pleasure and the perfect way to finish off a good meal. When ordering a Türk kahvesi, you will be asked how you take it – sade (no sugar), orta (with some sugar) or şekerli (sweet), as it is brewed with the sugar before serving in small cups. You may even find a local willing to tell your fortune from it, a popular custom across Turkey. Although in more rural parts you will often find instant coffee being served, cities are catching up with Italian coffee trends and in many of the more modern establishments you will find the usual fare of lattes and cappuccinos alongside the traditional varieties.

Print Friendly
Be Sociable, Share!

Click here to submit your review.


Submit your review
* Required Field

Turkey Tour Guide
Kucukayasofya Mh. Sultanahmet Istanbul9034122 Turkey 
 • +90 212 518 03 20