Top 10 Most Popular Turkish Food
Turkish food is world renown and ranks as some of the most delightful cuisines! Since Ottoman times, chefs have fought to make the best dishes for sultans and now these top 10 Turkish dishes have expanded into other parts of the globe for all to enjoy.
But needless to say, experiencing Turkish cuisine in its original country will always be worth the travel time. Living in Turkey means you can enjoy these top 10 Turkish foods regularly!
1. Kahvaltı or Turkish breakfast -
I know, it's not just one food, but instead, Turkish breakfast is more of an experience. Breakfast is a traditional family gathering and a sit-down affair for most Turks on the weekends. While coffee is a western tradition for breakfast, Turks much prefer to start their day with a tulip shaped cup of Turkish çay, or tea. The table is crowded with small plates and bowls of jellies, honey, and bite-size portions of cucumbers, tomatoes, and cheeses. No need to gather all your food on your own plate, everyone just shares from the middle.
2. Borek -
Borek is a variation of baked, filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough, known as yufka, and the filling is either cheese, potatoes, spinach or all three! This pastry usually cooked in a large pan and then served in smaller portions. I prefer it served hot for breakfast, but it can be the perfect snack during the day or an excellent option for a picnic by the sea.
3. Gozleme -
I call this the Turkish version of a Mexican quesadilla, but if you are unfamiliar with this Mexican dish then Gozleme is translated to a stuffed 'pancake.' This savoury traditional Turkish flatbread is made of hand-rolled dough that is lightly brushed with oil. Stuff the inside of the gozleme with your choice of ingredients such as cheese, potatoes, greens, or my preference, eggplant.
4. Iskender Kebab -
Popular all over the country of Turkey, this is not a dish you make a home! Thin slices of lamb or beef in tomato based sauce, served over cubes of pide bread with a scoop of yoghurt and grilled vegetables by the side. A true iskender would be offered with a golden melted butter over the top. This hearty meal is one of the most delicious kebabs you can have in Turkey and something I most enjoy at a restaurant.
5. Mantı -
Probably the coziest of Turkish meals, Mantı is similar to a dumpling or ravioli. While usually filled with a minced lamb mixture, you will find that the mixture varies throughout the regions. This dish takes time to make and usually is fun to make with family or friends. In Turkey, the size of your Manti, the smaller the better, is used as a way to highlight your skill in the kitchen.
6. Meze -
Meze, or appetizers, are a perfect addition to any meal. There are so many to choose from, but eggplant, salads, and yogurt-based mezes are usually the favorite. Along the coastal regions, mezes paired with 'rakıbalık,' traditional licorice alcoholic drink of Rakı and fish, become an evening affair accompanied with live Turkish music!
7. Doner Kebab -
You won't meet a Turkish person who doesn't love a good doner kebab, well unless they are vegetarians (which I haven't met many who are!). Doner literally means something that turns. Seasoned meat is stacked onto a huge screwer in the shape of an inverted cone and slowly turns cooking next to a vertical rotisserie. The cooked meat is then sliced off in thin strips leaving the next section underneath ready to cook. The meat is served in a circular style or lavas style bread with pickles and tomatoes.
8. Ayran -
While this isn’t necessarily a 'food,' it is a much loved salty yogurt drink that everyone enjoys alongside their doner or durum. For some foreigners who eat their yogurt on the sweet and fruity side, it takes a while to adjust, but believe me, before long you will find yourself craving this combination of food for any meal!
9. Sutlac -
Saving the desserts for last means they are the perfect ending to all Turkish meals (ok, maybe not breakfast). Sutlac is a yummy rice pudding usually cooked, if traditionally served, in a clay bowl. The pudding is broiled on top giving it a baked browned color and hard coating on top with a colorful smoky flavor.
10. Baklava -
Baklava is the most popular dessert of Turkey! There are so many variations of baklava but the base is made of layers of yufka dough, different spices (such as cardamom or cinnamon), chopped nuts like pistachios, and soaked in a hot simple syrup.
From one bias international blogger living in Turkey, I found it hard to limit myself to only 10 Turkish dishes! Settling in Turkey full-time means I not only enjoy these famous recipes in their original context, but I have learned how to cook them as well! Perhaps one day, you too will enjoy living in Turkey and learn the culture of food.
Written by Catie Funk for Turkey Homes.