Last Updated on 10th February 2023
Turkish cuisine full of unique and delicious flavours await any traveller who visits Turkey. From traditional kebabs to tantalizing desserts, authentic Turkish food offers an unparalleled experience for those seeking true culinary freedom. This article will explore some of the best dishes and delicacies from the rich and diverse Middle East culture of Turkey, so get ready to embark on a flavour-filled journey.
The history of Turkish food dates back centuries ago, when many different cultures and ethnicities began influencing each other’s cooking styles. This has resulted in an incredibly varied range of dishes with flavours ranging from sweet to spicy. Traditional staples such as pide (flatbread), manti (dumplings) and baklava are just a few examples of what can be found in Turkish restaurants around the world.
However, nothing compares to actually visiting Turkey and experiencing these amazing and authentic Turkish foods first-hand and sampling the smoky grilled meats cooked over open flames.
Baklava is the ultimate and timeless traditional Turkish cuisine to tantalize your taste buds, and the traditional treat is a must to sample on your trip.
The traditional recipe for this delectable delicacy consists of thin sheets of phyllo pastry brushed with butter and layered with chopped nuts, most commonly walnuts or pistachios. The filling is then baked until golden brown before being drenched in syrup or honey, giving it that unmistakable sweetness. Each bite serves as a perfect balance between the salty nutty flavours and the rich sweetness of the syrup.
You can serve Baklava in small bite-sized pieces and is often found on special occasions. You can also find it in many pastry shops throughout Turkey. This cuisine was first made either in modern-day Syria or Armenia and is considered by some to be a Turkish invention. You can also eat it in other countries, such as Greece, Lebanon, and the Balkans. It is a popular dessert that is enjoyed around the world.
The doner kebab is most people’s introduction to traditional Turkish foods, usually late night in a inebriated state and arguably the most famous on this list. It’s classic street food that consists of thinly sliced pieces of meat stacked on a vertical spit and grilled slowly until it is crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside. The meat is sliced off and then served with pita bread, salad, tomatoes, onion, and a yogurt sauce.
Now firstly as a food snob, I cannot stress enough the taste difference between gas and a superior charcoal grill. And I implore you to try this in the traditional method to truly appreciate this classic dish in either chicken, beef or lamb meat.
If you want a twist, try an Iskender kebab, sliced döner kebab meat topped with hot tomato sauce over pieces of pita bread and generously slathered with melted butter and yogurt.
For clarity, the vertical rotisserie and stacking of meat was invented in the 19th-century Ottoman Empire, before such dishes as the Greek gyros and Arab shawarma which are based on it.
Fesenjan is a popular Persian dish served throughout Turkey. It consists of ground walnuts cooked in tart pomegranate syrup, sometimes with chicken or beef. The combination of flavours makes fesenjan irresistible; sweet yet tangy, nutty with a hint of sourness. The sauce itself is rich and thick which means it pairs perfectly with either fluffy basmati rice or soft flatbreads like lavash. This delightful dish will leave your taste buds tingling with delight that will linger on your taste buds long after your trip to Turkey.
Fesenjan is a traditional meal and often served as part of a meze platter and can also be found in many restaurants across the country. For instance, you can visit the historic Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul, where they serve one of the best Fesenjans in town.
Yogurt Soup (Çorbasi)
Yogurt soup, or çorbasi, is a popular Turkish soup made with yogurt and fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, garlic, onions, and sometimes rice or bulgur.. It is a light yet filling dish that is often served either hot or cold. You can take this soup when you’re feeling under the weather or need a tasty snack. Be warned, the popular hangover recipe Işkembe Çorbas is made with tripe.
The key ingredient is natural yoghurt, which is beaten until it becomes fluffy, when water or chicken stock is added. Then sautéed onion, seasonings like mint leaves and dill weed, then cooked rice or bulgur wheat; is added and stirred until fully combined and left to simmer over a low heat.
Yogurt soup can be found in many traditional restaurants across the country and is also popular among locals. The soup has an interesting flavour combination of tart and sweet, making it a unique dish with a nuanced flavour profile you won’t want to miss. However, if you’re looking for a more authentic experience, head to the Kurdish region of Turkey.
Kaşarlı pide is a traditional and authentic Turkish pizza dish, especially popular in the Black Sea region. It consists of a flatbread dough filled with kaşar cheese, tomatoes, and herbs. This delicious snack can be found in many cafes and restaurants across the country and is popular among locals. The soft, doughy base of the pizza-like crust, combined with the melted cheese and herbs creates an amazing flavour that will leave you wanting more.
This classic recipe allows for great flexibility as it can be served as an appetizer, side dish, main course or dessert depending on the ingredients used. Additionally, various spices such as oregano can easily be added to enhance its flavour’s even more.
Kaşarlı pide is usually served as a snack or for breakfast. It can also be found in some supermarkets, pre-made and ready to bake. You can also find dish variations, such as adding mushrooms or sausage to the toppings. Be sure to try this delicious Turkish foods on your next trip to Turkey.
Köfte is a traditional Turkish dish of spiced ground beef, lamb, or mutton mixed with onion and herbs. The meat is then formed into small balls and cooked either in the oven or over an open flame. The spiced meatballs are typically served as part of a meze platter along with various accompaniments such as hummus, tzatziki, tabouleh and flatbreads.
Köfte is a popular dish throughout Turkey and can be found in many restaurants and cafes, where it may come as part of a kebab plate or served alone with pilav (rice). It’s also a common staple at Turkish barbecues, where guests will enjoy the delicious köfte with a cold beer or glass of wine. So be sure to try this classic Turkish dish on your next trip.
It is believed that Dolma, a traditional dish of Turkey, comes from the Ottoman Empire. It’s very similar to the Greek Dolmades.
Dolma is made from vine leaves and stuffed with minced meat or vegetables mixed with rice and spices such as cinnamon, cumin, sumac and mint. The combination of flavours creates an amazing taste experience for this light dish.
So as we have discovered, Turkish cuisine offers a myriad of delicious and authentic dishes in this ancient country’s culinary offerings. It truly is remarkable how the traditional recipes have remained unchanged throughout centuries, yet still produce such an incredible flavours by blending spices, herbs and vegetables to tantalize the taste buds.
To fully appreciate the depth and complexity of Turkish cuisine one must travel to Turkey itself. After all, nothing compares to tasting the authentic Turkish flavours at the source.