Food satiates the soul like none other. And that’s precisely why it is so closer to everyone’s heart, be it at home or on a staycation.
It is icing on the cake when you get a mouthful of lip-smacking food along with spellbound places to visit in Turkey.
Only after the 1980s, when the tourism industry in this country was on the rise, the world comes to know better about Turkish food. However, it was the Ottoman empire, which started its reign in the early 1400s, that prepared a chain of cuisines, which has taken the world by awe today.
Turkey is a transcontinental country where cultures and continents blend. Richly influenced by Asia, Europe, and the Middle East touch, present-day Turkey is a postcard-perfect destination where the Turkish cuisine tastes much more than what it is.
Turkish cuisine is majorly influenced by Ottoman culture, but nature also had played a key role. With an ideal climate and landscape, plant and animal growth is optimal. The perfect road and river routes, connecting the country with the rest of the world, helped bring exotic ingredients from worldwide.
Let’s look at the top 14 food in Turkey that will allow you to lick your plate clean!
1. Simit – Turkish Pretzel
Simit is one of the traditional foods in Turkey to conjure with a cup of tea for breakfast. It is basically a circular bread encrusted with different seeds. The crisp, size, colour may slightly vary by region. These are available throughout the country, in bakeries, cafes, metros, even street vendors carrying baskets or pushing carts. It is one of the cheapest yet distinct Turkish street food. Savour it plain, or with preserves like jam, Nutella, etc. These are famous as Turkish bagels in other parts of the world.
2. Turkish Apple Tea – Unique Decoction
Tea is an important part of Turkish hospitality, and you can find it brewing everywhere in the country. A special Apple tea, however, has a uniqueness in its taste and is sure to tickle your tastebuds to a new level. Try out this potent appetizer any time of the day.
3. Ezogelin Soup – Zesty Tomato Soup
Foods have their own story. And, this Turkish food item has an interesting one. Legend has it, the soup was a result of the efforts of an unhappy married woman Ezo, who was trying to impress her mother-in-law through her stomach. She assembled together a zingy soup containing red lentils, hot tomato paste, grated onions, and tomatoes garnished with dried mint and chilly flakes. This emotional delicacy is still a food of choice for brides-to-be from a small village of Gaziantep. Try it to impress your taste buds, if not someone else!
4. Menemen – Veggie Shakshouka
Menemen is a traditional breakfast option in Turkish cuisine, which is pretty much similar to shakshouka. It is made with eggs and various veggies seared in olive oil, lightly spiced with ground black and red pepper. Plated and served with a slice of bread, this egg delicacy is the best way to get the day going.
5. Gözleme – Turkish Crepe
Perhaps, it is one of the easiest delicacies to make and a must-consumed food in Turkey. These are expertly handmade by neatly rolling out the paper-thin dough, filling up with minced beef or spinach over a good spread of salty cheese, and sealed before making it crisp over a super-hot griddle. It is a perfect fluffy-in-the-middle Turkish snack to eat on the go.
6. Mantı – Turkish Ravioli
Imagine Italian Ravioli without Pasta! Made of dough and about one-third in size, these are filled with beef or minced lamb, sealed and put in hot water, then dressed up with garlic yoghurt and chilly flakes. This masterfully executed food in Turkey is best consumed when handmade or homemade instead of vacuum-packed or dried that can be bought from the shops.
7. Kumpir – Baked Potato
This Turkish street food is an interesting take on a potato piece, made crisp on the outside and fluffy stuffed in the middle with a generous amount of butter and kasar cheese. You will get a variety of toppings to complete your Kumpir, including sweet corns, ketchup, yoghurt, pickles, sausages, to name a few. It surely is a rich man’s feast at a poor man’s prices.
8. Köfte – Turkish Meatballs
It is another traditional food of Turkey and one of the famous Ottawan cuisine, having a variety of meat and veggies. In simple terms, Koftes are meatballs that are handmade before frying. These bite-sized balls are served best with hot red pepper sauce to give a zesty taste.
9. Perde Pilav – A curtain of dough
Perde Pilav is a buttery dough filled with rice, almonds, pine nuts, currants, and chicken (optional). This rice-based dish is baked in an oven, seasoned with salt, oregano, and pepper, and served hot. Mostly found at weddings and get-togethers, one of the best foods in Turkey is also considered auspicious for a family with a new home.
10. Mezze or Meze – Assortments with a Fish
This Turkish food is a selection of dishes served together at the start of a meal or with drinks, especially in the evening. It is a good mix of salad, fish, and sauteed vegetable dishes with generous white cheese accompanied with delectable and warm pide. It allows for a perfect way to kickstart an evening that will follow quintessential drinks and dinner. It is simply not possible to leave Turkey without being served Mezze.
11. Kebap – Brochette Meat
The most famous food in Turkey is Kebap. And still, it is so diverse that it has more than 30 varieties of meat and veggie versions. These are stuck nicely onto skewers and cooked gradually over a fire. Try şiş Kebap for a less spicy and succulent textured delicacy, or have Iskender Kebap that comes dripping with rich yoghurt, smothered with a tangy tomato sauce along with a dash of melted butter, served with roasted tomatoes. Kebaps promises a blast of flavours in the mouth after intoxicating you with their charcoal-led smoky flavours.
12. Baklava – Turkish Pasteries
Turkish sweets are to die for! A nation with a sweet tooth, Turks do know how to play with their sugar! Baklava is one such dessert, a sensational dish that always pleases with its excellent flavour and consistency. These are stacked up paper-thin sheets of buttery pastry, garnished with ground pistachios and held together by the rich goodness of sugar or honey syrup. It is one of the classic desserts that is also an iconic Turkish dish. It is said that the people of Gaziantep, a small village in southeast Turkey, plate the best baklavas. Make sure to include the place when customizing your Turkey tour packages.
13. Dondurma – Chewable Battered Ice cream
Ice cream but a unique one, this Turkish cuisine wins over hands down! Imagine an ice cream that doesn’t melt! Yes, and the special ingredients make it sweet and chewy. Also, you must have seen various videos of ice-cream vendors putting up a show by playfully flipping the softy cones upside down and teasing you to hold the ice cream. That’s Dondurma vendors for you. It is a sure thing to catch hold of and savour whenever you are next in Turkey.
14. Turkish Delights – Flavourful Bites
No visit to Turkey is complete without gorging on Turkish Delights, or Lokum, as they call it there. With a variety of flavours to choose from, and each is a mouthwatering blend of dates, pistachios, rose water, starch, and other flavours, these bite-sized delights are as toothsome as it gets.
Ready to dig in?!