Warning: Do not travel to Turkey on a diet! If you’re trying to cut carbs or get a beach bod in Turkey, you might want to forget it. Maybe you have the willpower to say no but for most; mouth-watering Turkish cuisine is hard to pass up on. Turkish cuisine is chiefly the continuance of Ottoman cuisine, which in turn used numerous elements and influences from other parts of the world such as Central Asia, Balkan and Caucasian cuisines. Not only are there mountains of Turkish delight and juicy kebabs but there’s so many other delicacies you must try!
Here are the top 11 foods to eat in Turkey:
1. Mantı (Turkish Ravioli)
It takes time to make these heavenly little lamb/beef stuffed dumplings though the speed at which most Turkish women can make them is impressive! Covered in a yoghurt and spice-laden sauce, this dish is completely unique and delicious.
Can’t decide what to have? With an assortment of dishes to pair with bread, Meze is the ideal way to try a bit of everything. There are typically beans, salads, spreads, seafood such as fried calamari and stuffed mussels and cheeses. Generally, meze is served at the beginning of a meal accompanied by either soft drinks, wine or Turkish raki, where you can relax, eat and socialise.
For the ultimate carb-loading, a Turkish baked potato is like no other. The fluffy insides are whipped up with butter and cheese then it’s up to you which toppings to add – meats, veggies, sauces and more cheese. This tasty dish is a very popular street food and can be found throughout Turkey. Kumpir is so delicious, it’s like a party in a baked potato. Is your mouth watering yet?
Like messy scrambled eggs or a take on shakshuka, mememen is a breakfast dish of spicy eggs cooked with oil, tomato, peppers and spices. It’s usually served in the metal dish it’s cooked in and eaten with chunks of bread (of course). Although you’ll find Turkey has many contrasts of food due to the sheer size of the country, you’ll be surprised to find that menemen is a fairly standard breakfast across the whole country.
Who loves pizza? We do! Lahmacun is essentially a Turkish pizza which has a thin crispy crust and is topped with a delicious fresh sauce composed of tomatoes, peppers, flavoursome minced meat and herbs. Although it may look like a pizza, it does miss one essential pizza ingredient – Cheese! Because the dough is super thin this tasty dish can be eaten rolled up, burrito style, which is perfect for those days when you’re on the go.
Oh, glorious baklava! Whilst many of you may know what baklava is, have you tried it in Turkey? This rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo, is filled with chopped nuts such as walnuts and is then sweetened and essentially held together by syrup or honey. This dessert is a dream for you sweet tooth folk and due to the sweetness of it, a little goes a long way.
7. Iskender Kebap
İskender kebap or Alexander kebab is one of the most famous meat foods of north western Turkey and is known as the ‘the king of Turkish kebabs’. An Alexander kebab is sort of like a döner kebab as it is made from finely cut grilled lamb covered with hot tomato sauce over pieces of pita bread, and is then liberally doused with melted sheep butter and yoghurt. This delicious kebab is a specialty of the Bursa region and now can be found throughout Turkey.
8. Balık Ekmek
Fresh fish sandwich anyone? This scrummy street food is a very common sight in Turkey, especially in areas close to the sea. The fish fillet which is generally grilled but can be fried too is typically an oily fish such as mackerel, served with several vegetables, inside Turkish bread.
For the love of gözleme! This traditional savoury dish is a basic pastry dough filled with various ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, or mincemeat and is then sealed and cooked over a griddle. You may see this snack being cooked at street vendors and not long ago it was labelled as ‘village food’. Today, you’ll see gözleme being cooked everywhere and eaten for breakfast or a fast-food snack.
10. Imam Bayıldı
Who’s a fan of eggplant? Turkey has an array of eggplant dishes however, imam bayildi is a standout. A dish from Ottoman cuisine, it consists of a whole eggplant stuffed with onion, tomatoes and garlic, and simmered in olive oil. It is a perfect snack, as part of a table of mezes, or as an accompaniment to a full dinner. This dish so flavoursome that there’s no excuse why you aren’t eating your 5 servings of veggies a day!
11. Turkish Delight
The delicious Turkish delight! And believe us, trying the traditional sweet in Turkey, really is a delight. If you haven’t been to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, it’s a great start to see the mass variety available. Turkish delight can consist of chopped dates, pistachios and walnuts, flavoured with rosewater, lemon, mastic or orange, dusted with icing sugar.
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