While Turkish cuisine has undoubtedly been exported to the rest of the world, there are still many delightful treats that remain unknown. This means, when you visit this country, you should embark on a culinary tour to discover these traditional dishes and treats.
This is no ordinary pizza, although it may look like one. Just like the world-famous Italian recipe, it is also made of dough rolled thin before being topped with minced vegetables like onion and tomato, minced meat, and herbs like cumin and cayenne pepper. They also add onion, a bit of tomato and lettuce onto the middle after it is baked before they roll it up and eat it like a burrito. You can eat it with ayran (the traditional salty yogurt drink). This dish can be enjoyed in every corner of Turkey.
2. Turkish Breakfast (Kahvaltı)
There is no one way to do kahvalti, and every restaurant offering it has its own version. In fact, you can visit the Besiktas neighborhood in Istanbul and try out one of many of the restaurants in the “breakfast street“.
There are staples, however, that are common in each restaurant, like olives, butter, jam and honey, white cheese, sliced tomatoes, bread, and cucumbers. Beyond that, there are warm dishes like menemen (scrambled eggs with tomatoes) and gözleme, a Turkish crepe filled with cheese, potato, or spinach.
This dish is popular in Northwestern Turkey and was created by a man from Bursa called Iskender Efendi. It is made by pouring tomato sauce on a pita before adding thinly-sliced lamb on top. It is then covered in melted sheep’s butter. Lastly, it is served with a scoop of yogurt. It is best enjoyed in Bursa, where it comes from, which is only a 2-hour ferry away from Istanbul. Otherwise, you can enjoy it in one of the Iskender restaurants in the bigger cities, especially the ones in the west of the country.
This is a staple in Turkey since the beginning of the 15th century and is very popular all over the country. Simit, which is a bagel encrusted with sesames and has a circular shape, is crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside.
All over the country, you can find simit sellers (simitçis) and they normally have red, circular carts in Istanbul. A tip is to buy some peynir or cheese that you can spread on top. This is a delicious and cheap snack that is great for between meals and when you are in a hurry.
5. Çiğ Köfte
The term “çiğ köfte” can be translated to raw meatball. It was named after the process of making it in the past, but it is now prepared differently. In modern Turkey, it is composed of bulgur, as well as tomato paste, onion, and spices. It originated in the southeastern part of the country, but it is now widespread and available all over theTurkey. You can wrap it in lettuce, with some parsley or mint inside.
These are just some of the culinary treats Turkey has to offer, along with the more popular Turkish delight and the kebap. So make sure you have an empty stomach and an adventurous spirit before doing your food tour of the country. You won’t be disappointed.