The journey starts in Central Asia, bountifully blended with the richness of Anatolia. The delicious secret of Turkish cuisine’s stems from a cultural heritage dating back centuries. Each one of its dishes, prepared with assorted ingredients and cooking methods, are distinct feasts. Countless types of soups, world-renowned meat dishes, exceptionally light and strikingly tasty vegetable dishes… and you‘ve not seen the half of it! Traditional pastries, desserts with lingering flavors, beverages to accompany delicious meals and joyous conversations. It is always worth travelling thousands of miles to enjoy the best examples of Turkish cuisine.
The welcoming soups of Anatolia will warm your heart. Mercimek (lentil) and ezogelin soups, served at tables for centuries, capture Anatolia’s abundance in a bowl and are Turkish favorites. Turkish prairie soup is captivating with its rich yogurt and mint flavors while tarhana soup is remarkably nutritious. Options never end when it comes to soups. Noodle soup with chicken broth is preferred for its therapeutic qualities. Local tastes invite you to travel; the idea of having thimble soup in Adana or tasting the delicious kesme aşı soup in Kars is incredibly appealing.
Whetting everyone’s appetite all around the World, kebab and döner are the most popular meat dishes of Turkish cuisine. However if you are thinking that your options are limited to these two, you are much mistaken. Casserole dishes cooked in wood fire combining red and white meats with vegetables, içli köfte (kibbeh) deliciously covered with bulgur outside while stuffed with tasty beef mince inside and many more distinct dishes… Pit kebab, prepared by suspending goat or lamb meat in pits, is an enchanting taste unique to Kastamonu. In Antioch, you should definitely try the succulent paper kebab prepared with veal and assorted vegetables, cooked in oily butcher paper. Braised in a sheet pan with tail fat, tantuni is Mersin’s delicious gift to Turkish cuisine.
For a tasty favor with light meals and nutritious flavors, Turkish cuisine offers several vegetable dishes. Incredibly fresh like its name, fresh green beans with olive oil; vine leaves stuffed with rice; the most unforgettable aubergine dish from around the world, sliced aubergines with tomatoes and onions called imambayıldı; okra with olive oil that can be consumed cold or hot but always with pleasure and much more; Gaziantep’s legendary stuffed dried eggplant and the favorite meal of Tekirdağ feasts, black-eyed peas with olive oil should be tasted whenever you have the chance.
Meat dumplings, the first dish that springs to mind when it comes to pastas, originates from Kayseri in Turkey and is delicious beyond words… Who would have thought that the combination of tiny meat-filled dough balls with yogurt and special sauces would be so tasty? If you enjoy baked specialities, Turkish pies will captivate you. Try pies with cheese, spinach and potatoes fresh out of oven. Have you ever tried lahmacun? Very thin flatbreads with minced meat, onion and various spices and toppings are baked in brick ovens; afterwards, they are served with parsley and lemon, offering a unique taste. Turkish cuisine has various types of pitas called ‘pide’ prepared with different ingredients. We especially recommend Samsun’s famous Bafra pide.
Turkish cuisine is so rich in desserts that it will take you many years to try them all. Of course, you should travel from city to city to experience local tastes as well. The favorites of Turkish cuisine are baklava and kadayıf (shredded wheat dessert) and desserts made with sweet syrup containing walnut or pistachio. Künefe is another special flavor you should try. The star of Antioch cuisine, kanefah is a remarkable taste blending sweet syrup with cheese. The importance of milk desserts in the rich Turkish cuisine cannot be ignored. Desserts prepared with milk such as pudding, rice pudding and kazandibi (burned milk pudding) each have distinct tastes. Kahramanmaraş ice cream, prepared by mixing fresh mountain snow with milk, has become a world-famous dessert. Countless more options like ashura, halva, revani (baked semolina), compote and stewed fruit, one cannot help but admire – and of course try – Turkish desserts.
Hot and cold beverages enrich Turkish cuisine further. Prepared by watering down yogurt, buttermilk ‘ayran’ accompanies almost every meal with great delight. Being unique to Turkish cuisine, this beverage is a great refreshment on hot days. Prepared with ground coffee beans cooked in pot, Turkish coffee instantly cheers us with its great flavor. The importance of tea cannot be overlooked in Turkish cuisine. An indispensable agricultural product of the Black Sea region and cultivated mostly around Rize and Trabzon, tea is brewed then served in small tulip-shaped glasses.