We are going to tour Turkey with our palate and show you what you can eat in this country on your next trip. Palate ready? here we go.
Has it happened to you that you arrive in a new country, they give you the menu, and you have no idea what to order? Something that can already happen to us in a place with the same language, imagine in a language you do not know. And, sometimes the menus bring photos, but not always. For you to know what to eat in Turkey, we bring you this succulent article.
What can we eat in Turkey? let’s go by parts
We are going to show you some of the things that we were able to eat in Turkey, giving you the name in Turkish and the explanation of the dish, so you can order it knowing what is going to arrive, although in many restaurants the menu has photos.
Çorba literally means soup in Turkish and is pronounced chorba. Since we were in cold weather, we asked for it several times. Generally, the soup is made with red lentils and other ingredients, is accompanied by a lemon and is served as an appetizer. Very comforting when you come from outside, and it’s icy. In one of the restaurants we visited in Cappadocia they trusted their çorba so much that, upon arrival, they gave us a small amount saying that if we wanted more, we could order it. Result: we ordered two soups.
Seeing them like this, we didn’t know what to expect, but then we remembered that in Athens we had already tried something similar, and we tried it with more confidence. The Yaprak Sarma is a wrapping of vine leaves, that is, the grape plant, which contains rice, although it can contain meat.
As a curious fact, in a restaurant they served it cold and in another hot. So, I can’t say which is the correct presentation. I have to say I liked the hot version better.
Börek made me think of the flautas that we eat in Mexico, of course, a very different version, but the idea is similar: it is flaky and crispy pasta which can have minced meat, chicken, cheese, etc. as a filling. A very delicious entry of Turkish cuisine.
Asking for a mix of several entrées, that is, a meze, is perfect for those who are undecided and don’t know what to eat first in Turkey. For example, in this dish in the photo there are several appetizers, some already known, such as hummus, which we had tried for the last time in Dubai, tzatziki, among others.
Did you know? The word meze comes from the Persian مزه mazze which means flavor and this name comes from the verb مزیدن mazzidan, that is, to flavor.
This entrée can either be included in your meze order, or you can order it separately, as was the case here. Along with it, they brought us delicious bread to dip in it. This “crushed” salad brings tomato, chili, pepper, onion, olive oil, among other ingredients.
In this entry we have the well-known tzatziki which in Turkey is called cacık, but seasoned meat is also added on top, and now it’s called cacıko.
Another entrée that can be on the menu at lunchtime in Turkey. If you are afraid of throwing yourself into something new, you can start with the toasts that are quite similar to what we already know. Although I have to say that I was surprised to see the fake sausage floating between the cheese and the bread, it tasted almost like sausage but, being in a Muslim country, I was sure that it was not. Puzzling, but tasty.
Turkish fast food or street food
If you don’t have much time to eat during your trip to Turkey, you can opt for one of these delicious street foods, although you can also find them in a restaurant.
This is one of the so-called Turkish pizzas, it is a pizza that went from being round and, as if it had been crushed, it became an eye or boat-shaped one. As with the pizzas we already know, the pides come with a huge variety of ingredients and flavors, the limit is what the person who cooks them comes up with. A good fast food option that you will have to eat in Turkey.
This is another traditional fast food from Turkey that is apparently traditional in neighboring Armenia as well. It is a thin bread dough, very thin and round, here we had cut it in two to share it, and it comes with onion, parsley, pepper, spices, meat (although this one we ate did not come with it).
In the place where we ate it they did not bring us, in addition, the fresh vegetables on top or lemon to add.
The dürüm is the Turkish version of the burrito, literally meaning “roll”. Instead of the tortillas, which we use in Mexico, the dürüm is wrapped with either yufka or lavash flatbreads. What it will bring inside will depend on what the menu says, in this case we asked for chicken meat.
Turkish main dishes
Did you know? the term “kebab” means “skewer”
We start with the kebab, or kebap, this in addition to the meat brings some huge pieces of eggplant (patlıcan). The meat is usually a mix between beef and lamb.
If you are from Mexico, this dish will be very familiar to you. Named after the district of the same name in İzmir, menemen are scrambled eggs with vegetables. A very nutritious breakfast to start the day, which comes with tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. Although they can also be ordered for dinner, as I did the day I tried it.
Like the eggplant kebab, this one brings tomato as its protagonist, in addition to meat. Delicious. The meat here is also a mixture of lamb and beef. If you have any doubts, and it is not written on the menu, ask the waiter in the restaurant. I am not a big fan of the flavor of lamb meat, but since it is mixed, the flavor is attenuated, and I was able to enjoy these dishes.
For this dish, the meat skewer is long and in one piece, its name comes from the Turkish city of the same name. Lamb meat is cut, seasoned with salt, pepper and finely chopped red pepper. It is served with a vegetable salad and in this case they did not include a lemon.
The rice that we see as a side dish is actually bulgur, which is made from wheat.
The translation of the Testi kebabı is literally ‘clay jar kebab’. It is a central Anatolian dish and consists of cooking meat and vegetables in a clay pot. Said pot, or jar, is sealed with bread dough or aluminum foil and is broken when served. I have to say that in our case they didn’t break anything, they just removed the huge piece of bread.
Another dish that you can start with, if you want to go slow with Turkish food, as it is quite familiar. Pronounced more like mante or mantu, mantı are like mini dumplings or ravioli. They can bring different types of meat inside and yogurth is added on top. It’s delicious.
This recipe is very similar to what we know as meatballs, the meat can be beef or lamb, and it can have spices.
Did you know? the term “Döner kebab” means “turning grilled meat”
In this case they served us the meat on a plate with accompaniments, depending on the place the presentation could be inside a bun. The base of everything is the meat which was spinning in a top, the same thing that happens with the “tacos al pastor” from Mexico.
Şiş Kebab, pronounced shish kebab, is skewered, grilled cubes of meat. It is said to be invented by medieval soldiers, who used their swords to roast meat.
This kebab is named after its inventor, İskender Efendi. In this variant, the meat is prepared in thin strips, tomato sauce is poured over it and everything is placed on a bed of pide bread. Unlike the other kebabs that come with French fries, rice or bulgur, here the accompaniment is yogurth.
Pilav will usually be a side dish which is the prepared rice, bulgur or pasta. The rice, for example, is not like ordinary rice, it is prepared in a way that is sticky and goes perfectly with Turkish dishes. Although it is so good, with so much seasoning they add to it, that it could well be eaten on its own.
We enter the dessert section, I know that there are many things to eat in Turkey, but always leave a space for dessert because they are delicious.
Dondurma is Turkish ice cream, in fact, the word literally means ice cream, but in Turkey, they prepare it in a way in which it is sticky to the point that it can be given different shapes and can be manipulated in many ways. Taking advantage of this, ice cream vendors have become a tourist attraction by doing various tricks when selling ice cream. Let yourself be carried away by the game of ice cream, it is something that I recommend you do at least once during your trip in Turkey, it is very fun.
This dessert is typical in many Middle Eastern countries, it consists of a noodle cake, those that look like hair, and inside they have cheese. When the cake is finished cooking, they soak it all in syrup; hence it’s sweet, and sprinkle pistachio powder on it.
One of the most popular sweet souvenirs, but keep in mind that it does not last long. Baklava are pastries made with pistachio or walnut paste and filo-type, that is, very thin, which are bathed in syrup. They are eaten in small quantities because, as you can imagine, they are very sweet.
A chocolate cake, you can’t fail with it, it can be found in cafés, and basically, it has chocolate, broken cookies, and it can have pistachios.
This is another dish of Turkish cuisine that you can opt for if you want to start with something familiar. Basically, sütlaç is sweetened rice pudding.
Even if you don’t buy a box of Turkish delights, or lokum, you will try them if you order a Turkish coffee since they almost always accompany it. This is the other very popular culinary souvenir from a trip to Turkey, and it lasts better than baklava. This sweet is made with syrup and is presented in the form of jelly, almost like gummies, it is very sweet and that is why it is the perfect companion for bitter Turkish coffee.
Drinks that we can try in Turkey
Some of these drinks can be taken during the meal, others after. Tea, for example, is a drink that we order at any time during the meal, we don’t wait until the end.
Turkish coffee has been declared by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It is prepared with ground Arabic coffee, to the point of being almost flour, and it is super concentrated. The small pot used to make this coffee is called a cezve (it is made of copper and has a wooden handle). When you ask for it, they will ask you whether you want to add sugar or not, since this ingredient is added to the cezve at the time of preparing the drink. Many times a lokum will come to accompany our cup of coffee. In fact, it happened to me that in several places they did not give me the lokum and, as in other places they had already given it to me, I felt that something was missing.
Ayran is a very popular drink in Turkey and is basically made up of yogurt and water, to which can be added salt, ground garlic or mint. It is served cold and its flavor can be disconcerting, but it is good.
The çay or Turkish tea, will be one of the most present drinks during your trip to Turkey. It is served at any time and traditional glass cups are used, which do not have handles. For example, these teas were given to us when we arrived at a hotel, the truth is that such a welcome is very pleasant. In addition to the basic Turkish tea, on the menu you will see flavored teas such as elma çay (apple tea) and others.
Lots of things to eat in Turkey.
As usual, we are left with things that we did not eat during our trip to Turkey. Like for example the Güllaç dessert that is made of dough, milk, rose water, nuts and pomegranate seeds. The same thing happened with the giant baked potato called Kumpir and the Karniyarik which is a large eggplant stuffed with minced meat. We also didn’t get to try the Lüfer, which is the fish from the Bosphorus.
Have you tried Turkish food? What’s your favorite food? Tell me in the comments, and bon appétit!