Eat & Drink
The Turkish cuisine’s richness of variety Turkish cuisine offers a wide choice for those who want to experience and enjoy new flavours.
Foods, beverages and their consumption rituals are a country’s one of the most important cultural projections: each one of the traditional foods and beverages, and their presentation are a prolongation of Turkey’s cultural codes. For example, in Turkey, offering Turkish tea is a proof of hospitality. So, many restaurants serve Turkish tea after dinner with no charge. Another example to explain the situation can be given via Turkish coffee: the old idiom says that one cup of Turkish coffee guarantees 40 years of friendship. In brief, if you experience Turkey’s traditional foods and beverages, you will also experience the Turkish people’s hospitality, fellowship and joyfulness. Be prepared!
The Gastronomic Panorama
From exquisite pastry choices to delicious meat, fish and vegetable specialities; Turkey’s gastronomic panorama reflects a remarquable culinary synthesis coming of its cultural heritage.
Turkey’s probably most famous food kebap has many versions cooked by different methods and ingredients. Döner kebap, for example, is a roasted meat on a revolving spit. İskender Kebap is made of grilled lamb meat and hot tomato sauce served over pita bread pieces with melted butter and yoghurt. Adana and Urfa Kebaps are both cooked on a wide skewer but Adana Kebap is spicy, while Urfa Kebab is not. As for Şiş Kebap, its cube shaped meat is grilled in a barbecue. Kebap is a commonly consumed traditional food which can be found practically everywhere in Istanbul.
Olive oil, olive oil dishes and mezes
Turkey is the world’s one of the biggest oil olive producer and an international awards winning olive oil exporter. Produced by the black pearl of the Mediterranean olive; olive oil is used in many Turkish food, mostly in olive oil dishes and mezes which are ideal options for vegetarians. Both healthy and tasty, olive oil dishes are at the top of Turkey’s daily food consumption. Those traditional dishes can accompany very well to both alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages. Another accompaniment dish is meze (Turkish hors d’oeuvre and appetizer). Turkish cuisine offers a large variety of meze like Pilaki (beans, garlic, tomato, carrot and olive oil), Cacık (yoghurt, garlic, grated cucumber, olive oil) or Dolma (vine and cabbage leaves, olive oil).
Surrounded by three different seas with also an inland sea; Turkey is the ideal country for seafood lovers. Bluefish, bonito, mackerel, sole, octopus, trout, picarel… Istanbul’s restaurants offer an endless list of fish to their costumers. European anchovy originated from the Black Sea and mussel are both cooked in very special ways, with rice and definitely deserve to be tasted.
Sweet or salty, pastry can be eaten at all hours of the day and night as an essential element of Turkish cuisine with a wide variety. For example; Börek is a layers of pastry filled with different meat, potato, cheese or vegetables. Lahmacun which is also known as “Turkish pizza” or Mantı, a kind of pasta filled with meat and served with yoghurt, thyme and red pepper flakes are classified as dinner dishes.
Indispensable complement of the country’s traditional tastes, yoghurt is used in various dishes like mezes (Turkish hors d’oeuvres and appetizers), dolma (stuffed chopped meat) and mantı (Turkish ravioli). One of the most flavouring element of the Turkish cuisine, yoghurt is also an utmost healthy and refreching nutrition. The most known between various yoghurt types is Kanlıca Yoğurdu which is served with powdered suger on top.
Circle shaped and covered with sesame seeds, Simit is very common in Turkey and can be eaten at any time during the day, generally with cheese and tea. Simit can be found in both big simit shops and sidewalk simit stands.
Displayed in jars; pickles can be made of a variety of foods like baby carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, green tomatoes, cucumber, chili pepper and so on. When it comes to beverages, pickle juice worth absolutely to be mentioned. This special product offers a refreshing experience especially to those who love a little bit spicy drinks.
Between many different choices and tastes, Turkish desserts can be categorized as milkbased, pastry-based and fruit-based desserts. Some of the milk-based desserts are Sütlaç (rice pudding), Muhallebi (milk pudding), Kazandibi (white pudding with burnt surface) and Tavukgöğsü (white pudding with peeled chicken breast). The famous Baklava with pistachio or walnut, Ekmek Kadayıfı with clotted cream and Künefe with soft cheese are some of the pastry-based desserts and served with syrup. As for fruid-based desserts; quince, fig, pumpking and pear are the most commonly consumed ones.
Turkish Delight (Lokum)
Invented by Bekir Efendi who open his first confectionery in 1777, Turkish delights cubeshaped confections flavored with flower or fruit essence, filled with different nuts and powdered sugar. As a world-famous product, Turkish delight is exported all around the world.
Introducted to the western world during the Siege of Vienna in the 16C, Turkish coffee is made by mixing extremely finely ground coffee, water and if you wish, sugar in a special coffee pot. Preparing Turkish coffee is like a ritual and requires patience. Once mixed, all the ingredients should be boiled over low heat but once the coffee is ready to serve, as the old idiom says, it guarantees 40 years of friendship. As it is understood, offering a cup of coffee is an act of hospitality. One of the most known Turkish coffee brands is Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi, producing coffee since 1871.
Widely grown in Turkey and especially along the Eastern Black Sea coast; tea is consumed at any time of the day mostly during breakfasts and after dinners. Prepared by using two pots and drunk generally in little tulip shaped glasses called ince belli (slender waisted), this hot drink has a very high consumption rate in Turkey and its offering connote friendship and hospitality. Beside traditional tea; several tea versions like the one of the most famous versions apple tea, orange tea and ıhlamur tea (made from linden flower) can be easily found at every corner of Istanbul.
Made from yoghurt, water and salt, Ayran is generally served with a meal. This refreshing and healthy drink is very common throughout Turkey. Ayran is usually drunk with kebap, yet it can be found almost in any restaurant including world famous fast-food chains. Some restaurants serve hand-made Ayran which usually have a bitter taste.
Made from corn or wheat, Boza is a fermented winter drink. Used as an energy drink during the Ottoman era, Boza is usually consumed with roasted chickpea. Served with cinnamon on top, Boza is traditionaly sold by the street vendors in Istanbul’s streets.
As a winter drink, Salep is consumed hot but can also be served with vanilla ice cream. Made of boiled milk flavored with orchis plant; a little pich of cinnamon powder on top of Salep makes the drink very delicious.
Made from slightly fermented grape juice, Şıra is a sweet, non-alcoholic drink. This refreshing summer drink is usually consumed with İskender Kebap. Traditional Ottoman beverages usually served chilled and made from various flowers, fruits and spices; sherbets are also very popular in Turkey. Nar Suyu (made from pomegranate, sugar and water), Demirhindi (made from the fruit of tamarind tree, carnation flower, cinnamon, suger and water) are a few of many famous Turkish sherbets.
World cuisine in Istanbul
With the magical touch of many civilizations and cultures, Turkish Cuisine offers to its visitors a very rich fusion. In addition to Turkish cuisine’s multicolored traditional traits, Istanbul is the junction point of world cuisine and provide a wide range of food choice originated from all around the world. Thus, the metropolis has an alternative to offer for every taste: from French to Thai, Italian to South American; the city’s culinary polyphony knows how to satisfy different foodlovers.