Food in Turkey: 5 Dishes that will make you fall in love
Smells and tastes can take us back to a memory in a moment. Sometimes it happens without us even realizing. There is that moment when your mom bakes grandmas famous cinnamon rolls and you immediately jump back to that time you were sitting on the couch as grandma baked and she told you the story of how her and granddad met.
Food is powerful. Obviously not all food is created equal. Even food in Turkey is not created equal. You should always be aware of where you’re getting your food from but if you choose well, you will be rewarded with delicious tastes that make your tongue do the Tango.
I previously did a blog post on drinks in Turkey and will have another on desserts in Turkey. So for this blog, we will just focus on main dishes that you not miss. By the time you’re finished eating them, I’m fairly certain you will have fallen in love with this place just like me.
Let me share with you 5 of my favorite foods in Turkey.
Turkey has so many different soups. Red lentil and Ezogelin are so delicious. There are creamy soups and broth soups. Soups with rice or noodles and blended soups. You can really find whatever you’re looking for.
But Beyran Çorbası is in a whole different ball park.
This soup is from Gaziantep in the southeastern region of Turkey. It typically made from lamb but sometimes you will also see it made with beef. The meat is combined with rice, garlic, butter, oil, water, salt, pepper sauce, black pepper and Aleppo flakes to create a dish from heaven.
The meat is often on the bone so the rich flavor from a long simmered bone broth adds to the richness of this soup. It is red in color from the Aleppo flakes. Sometimes it has a little bite to it but now always.
Interestingly, it is soup you can eat regardless of the time of day. You will even see many eating for breakfast because of it’s healthy properties and rich, hearty flavor. Because of the garlic and bone broth within, you will notices that many eat this soup when they start to get sick even.
A side note: Most soups are served with lemon. Turks love to add lemon to their soups and food in general. I am not a fan but nor have I ever been. I recommend you at least try it. Maybe just squeeze a drop or two into a bite of whatever soup it is.
It may seem stereotypical but perhaps for a reason. There is some amazing doner here but make sure you never call it a gyro…it won’t go over well here.
Essentially it is meat, beef, lamb or chicken, on a vertical skewer and it cooks as it slowly passes a heated panel. A vertical rotisserie if you will.
This dish is such a part of the Turkish culture you will find so many different varieties. Different regions add different spices or the animals from different regions will just naturally have a different flavor as they ate different plants.
Then there is different bread. You will see it as a sandwich (ekmek arası döner), a wrap (döner dürüm) or on top of rice (pilav üstü döner). All of them are great options.
If you’re in Kadikoy you should definitely check out Tatar Salim. Everything is so good but all the do really is döner. So when you order you will get the döner, french fries and a salad. You can order whatever you want to drink but their açık ayran, it comes in a glass and is delicious and made fresh.
I don’t think I can say enough about Turkish breakfast. Check back from another blog on it in the future! This is one of my favorite things about Turkey. I learned to eat vegetables for breakfast because of Turk kahvaltisi.
With this dish, you will see a smorgasbord of items. Cheeses, eggs, börek, break, olives, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, different pastes for eating with bread, nutella, honey and cream (bal ve kaymak), sausages and often french fries.
Typically if you get a good Turkish breakfast you will have unlimited Turkish tea as well. You can get coffee but you’ll have to pay extra for that.
I have never been able to finish a Turkish breakfast. It seems like it won’t be a ot because it is such small portions of everything but there typically so many choices it’s unreal.
In my blog specifically I will show you photos of Turkish breakfast from different regions but for now suffice it to say, the concept may be the same but what will be offered will be different depending on the region.
Every time I travel somewhere new, I always make sure I try Turkish breakfast, kofte and a dessert in each new place. I learn a little about how they are different and which ones are my favorite.
Have fun exploring Turkish breakfast in Turkey. If you find a good place, will you let me know?
Kebab, or kebab as Americans call them, also change dependent on the region. Different spices are used or different ways of preparing. All worth trying…well maybe not all but I won’t ruin it for those with light stomachs.
Adana kebab, however, is my favorite, at least thus far. This kebab is made from lamb, red bell peppers and fat. It often has a little bit of a kick to it though not usually so hot that it isn’t edible.
Again, while it can vary depending on where you purchase it, it is traditionally served with roasted green peppers and tomatoes, some parsley, some fresh onions with sumak and tortilla (lavaş).
You order a single portion (bir porsiyon), or more if you want more or you can even often do less by saying yarmı porsiyon (half portion).
So how to eat it like a pro…Mash up your tomatoes and peppers and spread them on the bread. On top of that you put a piece adana kebap on top of that followed by a little of the parsley and sumak onions. Roll it up and you have a few small durums.
The staple beverage is of course ayran though you will also see şalgam. Şalgam is drink made from pickled purple carrots, turnips and a touch of salt. It is a fermented drink like ayran and helps with digestion. While it isn’t for everyone, it is definitely worth a try!
Last but not least is one of my favorite dishes. I think I love this dish so much because I can easily make it at home and because it contains a vegetable I didn’t used to like.
So what is it? This is a dish of roasted, puréed eggplant with a béchamel sauce topped by a cubed lamb saute on top. I like this dish cause I can make it with whatever I have on had.
Sometimes I will add peppers and onion or other times mushrooms in with the meat and then there are even more vegetables. I also typically use beef as it is more easily accessible to me though it’s traditionally done with lamb.
The eggplant purée is almost like creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes, which I guess you could also use! The meat portion typically is seasoned with garlic, onions, tomatoes and a touch of salt.
To me this is a dish I can improvise a little and it becomes fun!
This is some of my favorite food in Turkey. Rich flavors with lots of veggies. Though the one thing I would say is that you will often find most vegetables quite well done with the exception of salads.
But even the salads were different than I was used to. Often times a salad is lettuce with a pile of shredded carrots, pickled red cabbage, and corn. You mix and drizzle with some olive oil and lemon.
While Turkish food is amazing, don’t forget to check out other restaurants started by foreigners like Bagel House!
As far as food in Turkey goes, do you have any favorites? Or anything you’re dying to try?
If you liked this, check out Turkish desserts. Look forward to seeing you on the next post.