is largely the heritage of
, which can be
described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian
, Middle Eastern
cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn
influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including that of
western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of
their realm with influences from Middle Eastern cuisines
, along with
(such as yogurt
), creating a vast array of technical
specialities- many with strong regional associations.
Taken as a whole, Turkish cuisine is not homogeneous. Aside from
common Turkish specialities that can be found throughout the
country, there are also many region-specific specialities.
Sea region's cuisine (northern Turkey) is based on corn
and anchovies. The southeast—Urfa,
Gaziantep and Adana—is famous
for its kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as
baklava, kadayıf and künefe.
in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees are grown
abundantly, olive oil
is the major type of
oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean
basic characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine
as they are rich
in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia is famous for its pasta
specialties, such as keşkek
(especially from Kayseri) and
A specialty's name sometimes includes that of a city or region,
either in or outside of Turkey, and may refer to the specific
technique or ingredients used in that area. For example, the
difference between Urfa kebab
is the use of garlic instead
of onion and the larger amount of hot pepper that kebab
Döner kebab sandwich served in a thick
This type is rare in Turkey and is mostly found in western
A typical Turkish breakfast
cheese (beyaz peynir
etc.), butter, olives,
eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, reçel
(jam/marmalade; a preserve of whole fruits) and honey usually
consumed on top of kaymak
(spicy Turkish sausage), pastırma
and even soups can
be taken as a morning meal in Turkey. A common Turkish speciality
for breakfast is called menemen
, which is prepared with roasted
tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, black tea
is served at breakfast. Coffee has
affected Turkish culture so much that the Turkish word for
breakfast, "kahvaltı" literally means "before coffee" (kahve
'coffee' altı 'before' or 'under').
Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major foreign
fast food chains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still
rely primarily on the rich and extensive dishes of the Turkish
cuisine. In addition, some traditional Turkish foods, especially
are often served as fast food in Turkey. Eating out has always been
common in large commercial cities. Esnaf lokantası
(meaning restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesmen) are widespread,
serving traditional Turkish home cooking at affordable
In the hot Turkish Summer, many prefer a lighter meal consisting of
seasonal vegetables and fruits. A summer meal is usually made up of
fried vegetables (such as eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, and green
peppers) served with yoghurt, tomato sauce, sheep's cheese,
cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons, melons, or summer helva (lighter
and less sweet than regular helva).
Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialities include: meat,
, and tomatoes
, pine nuts
, and walnuts
together with spices, have a special place in Turkish cuisine.
variety of spices are sold at the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı).
, black pepper
Oils and fats
, sunflower oil
and corn oil
are widely used for
cooking. Kuyruk yağı
(tail fat of sheep
) is used mainly in kebabs and meat dishes.
are used as well.
Use of fruit
In the Ottoman cuisine, the accompaniying of fruit as a side dish
with meat was quite frequent. Plums
, and figs
are the most frequently used fruits (either fresh
or dried) in Turkish cuisine. For example, komposto
(compote) or hoşaf
(from Persian khosh âb
meaning "nice water") are among the main side dishes to meat or
and pilaf usually
contain currants or raisins. Etli yaprak sarma
leaves stuffed with meat and rice) used to be cooked with sour
plums in Ottoman cuisine.
Use of eggplant
Eggplant (Turkish: patlıcan) has a special place in the Turkish
cuisine. It is combined with minced meat in karnıyarık
. As a speciality of
eastern Turkey, there are patlıcan kebabs, such as
Tokat Kebab, a specialty of Tokat province,
and Antep's eggplant kebab.
In a large number of
, side-dishes, and main courses -such as
("eggplant salad", an eggplant purée/dip),
("filled eggplant"), hünkâr
(eggplant purée prepared with cheese and traditionally
served with lamb stew), imam
, and moussaka
eggplant is the major element. In Antalya province it
is used for making eggplant jam ("patlıcan reçeli") .
In some regions, meat, which was mostly eaten only at wedding
ceremonies or during the Kurban Bayramı
) as etli pilav
with meat), has become part of the
daily diet since the introduction of industrial production.
, formerly shunned, is now widespread. The
main use of meat in cooking remains the combination of minced meat
, with names such as
(bean with minced meat) or kıymalı
(spinach with minced meat, which is almost always
served with yoghurt). Alternatively, in coastal towns, cheap fish
such as sardines (sardalya
) or hamsi
are widespread, as well as many others with seasonal availability.
Poultry consumption is common, consisting almost exclusively of
chicken, including eggs. Milk-fed lambs
, once the most popular source of meat,
comprise a small part of contemporary consumption. Kuzu
, cooking milk-fed lamb on a spit, once an important
ceremony, is rarely seen. Because it is a predominantly Islamic
country, pork plays no role in Turkish cuisine.
is an important element in Turkish
cuisine. In fact, the English word yoghurt or yogurt derives from
the Turkish word yoğurt
. Yoghurt can accompany almost all
meat dishes (kebabs, köfte), vegetable dishes (especially fried
eggplant, courgette, spinach with minced meat etc.), meze
and a speciality called mantı
(folded triangles of dough
containing minced meat). In villages, yoghurt is regularly eaten
with rice or bread. A thicker, higher-fat variety, süzme
or "strained yoghurt", is made by straining the yoghurt
curds from the whey. One of the most common Turkish drinks,
, is made from yoghurt. Also,
yoghurt is often used in the preparation of cakes, some soups and
Turkey produces many varieties of cheese
mostly from sheep
's milk. In general,
these cheeses are not long matured, with a comparatively low fat
content. The production of many kinds of cheese is local to
particular regions. The following is only a selection.
- Beyaz peynir is a salty cheese
taking its name from its white color ("white cheese"). It is
analogous to Greek feta. This is
produced in styles ranging from unmatured cheese curds to a quite
strong mature version. It is eaten plain (e.g. as part of the
traditional Turkish breakfast), used in salads, and incorporated
into cooked foods such as menemen,
börek and pide.
- Çökelek is one of two types of
unsalted white cheese, made by boiling the whey left over from
making beyaz peynir. There are many regional varieties of
çökelek. Some are eaten fresh while others are preserved,
either by storage in goatskin bags or pottery jars, or by drying in
the sun. Kurut and keş are regional names for
dried bricks of yoghurt made from low-fat milk or from
çökelek made from buttermilk.
- Lor is the other type of unsalted
white cheese, similarly made from the whey left over from
kaşar manufacture. Lor is used in traditional desserts
made from unsalted cheese like höşmerim.
- Kaşar is Turkey's other ubiquitous
cheese, a moderately fatty sheep's cheese similar to the Greek
kasseri. Less matured kaşar, called
fresh kaşar, is widely consumed as well.
- Kaşkaval is a wheel-shaped yellow
sheep's cheese, similar to fresh kaşar. The name is probably of
- Tulum is a sheep's cheese
preserved in an animal skin bag ( , which is also the word for a
traditional bagpipe). There are
regional varieties of tulum peynir in such areas as İzmir,
Ödemiş and Erzincan.
- Otlu peynir ("herbed cheese") is
produced in many areas, chiefly in East Anatolia. Traditionally
sheep's or goat's milk is used, but more recently cow's milk
otlu peynir has been produced. The type of herb used
varies by region: in Van wild garlic is
traditional; Bitlis otlu peynir contains a damp-loving
herb known as sof otu. In other areas horse mint
(Mentha longifolia) and
- Hellim ( ) is a salty,
firm-textured cheese, generally with some mint added, made in
Cyprus. In Turkey, it is common that hellim is
fried in a pan with some olive oil.
- Gravyer (analogous to Swiss gruyere) is produced in Turkey as well.
others, Kars is famous
for its graviera.
- Mihaliç peyniri or Kelle peyniri is a hard sheep's cheese that
can be grated, like Parmesan cheese.
Sometimes goat or cow milk is used. It is a specialty from Balıkesir.
peyniri, "braided cheese", is a specialty from Diyarbakır.
- Çerkez peyniri, "Circassian cheese".
A Turkish meal usually starts with a thin soup
). Soups are usually named after their main
ingredient, the most common types being lentil
, yoghurt, or wheat (often mashed) called
çorbası and tarhana
çorbası. Delicacy soups are the ones that
are usually not the part of the daily diet, like (shkembe) İşkembe soup
çorbası, although the latter also used to be
consumed as a nutritious winter meal. Before the popularisation of
the typical Turkish breakfast, soup was the default morning meal
for some people. The most common soups in Turkish cuisine are;
- Mısır Ekmeği
- Pide (a broad, round and flat bread made of
- Tandır bread (baked on the inner
walls of a round oven called tandır)
- Simit (also known as "gevrek",
another type of ring-shaped bread covered with sesame seeds. Simit
is commonly eaten in Turkey, plain or with cheese, butter or
Turkish cuisine has a range of savoury and sweet pastries. Dough
based specialities form an integral part of traditional Turkish
The use of layered dough is rooted in the nomadic character of
early Central Asian Turks. The combination of domed metal sac
(the Turkish rod-style rolling pin) enabled the invention of the
layered dough style used in börek
(especially in su böreği
, or 'water pastry' , a salty
baklava-like pastry with cheese filling), güllaç
is the general name for salty
pastries made with yufka
(phyllo dough), which
consists of very thin layers of dough. Su böreği
, made with boiled yufka
layers, cheese and
parsley, is the most frequently eaten. Çiğ
(also known as Tatar böreği
) is fried and
stuffed with minced meat. Kol
is another well-known type of börek that takes its name
from its shape, as do fincan
(talisman), Gül böreği
(rose) or Sigara böreği
traditional Turkish böreks include Talaş böreği
filled with vegetables and diced meat), Puf böreği
böreği is a sweet type of börek, widespread in the Black Sea
is the label name for dough
based salty pastries. Likewise çörek
is another label name used for both sweet and salty pastries.
is a food typical in rural
areas, made of lavash
bread or phyllo dough
folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and
parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle
is another traditional rolled out
dough. It can be salty or sweet according to the filling.
(meaning dough with meat in
Arabic) is a thin flatbread covered with a layer of spiced minced
meat, tomato, pepper, onion or garlic.
, which can be made with minced meat
(together with onion, chopped tomatoes, parsley and spices),
cheese, spinach, white cheese, pieces
of meat, braised meat (kavurma
pastırma or/and eggs put on rolled-out dough, is one of the most
common traditional stone-baked Turkish specialities.
is a soft bread found in most parts
of Turkey. It is similar to simit in shape, is covered in a glaze
with sesame seeds and is usually eaten as part of a healthy
Pilaf and pasta
It is a common belief that the taste of pilav comes from the butter
and stock used for cooking it. However, nowadays most people prefer
olive oil to butter.
- Sade pilav/pilaf: ordinary rice, which can
accompany almost all dishes.
- Domatesli pilav: tomato pilaf
- Etli pilav: rice containing meat pieces.
- Nohutlu pilav: rice cooked with chickpeas
- İç pilav: rice with liver slices, currants, peanuts, chestnut,
cinnamon and a variety of herbs
- Patlıcanlı pilav: rice with eggplant.
- Özbek (Uzbek) pilavı: rice with lamb, onion, tomato,
- Acem (Persian) pilavı: rice with lamb, cooked in meat broth
with pistachios, cinnamon etc.
- Bulgur pilavı: a cereal food generally
made of durum wheat. Most of the time, tomato,
green pepper and minced meat are mixed with bulgur. The Turkish
name (bulgur pilavı) indicates that this is a kind of rice
but it is, in fact, wheat.
- Perde pilavı: rice with chicken, onion and peanuts enveloped in
a thin layer of dough, topped with almonds.
- Hamsili pilav: spiced rice covered with anchovies, cooked in
oven. A speciality from the Black Sea Region.
- Frik pilavı: rice made of raw wheat. A speciality from
- Mantı: Turkish pasta that
consists of folded triangles of dough filled with minced meat,
often with minced onions and parsley. It is typically served hot
topped with garlic yoghurt and melted butter or warmed olive oil,
and a range of spices such as oregano, dried mint, ground sumac, and red pepper powder. The combination of meat-filled
dough with yoghurt differentiates it from other dumplings such as
tortellini, ravioli, and Chinese wonton. Mantı is usually eaten as
a main dish. Minced chicken and quail meats are also used to
prepare mantı in some regions of Turkey.
- Erişte: home made pasta is called
erişte in Turkey. It can be combined with vegetables but it can
also be used in soups and rice.
- Keşkek: a meat and wheat (or barley)
- Kuskus: the Turkish version of couscous,
which can be served with any meat dish or stew.
A vegetable dish can be a main course in a Turkish meal. A large
variety of vegetables is used, such as spinach
, green and red bell peppers
. A typical vegetable dish is prepared with a base of
chopped onions, carrots sautéed first in olive oil and later with
tomatoes or tomato paste
vegetables and hot water will then be added. Quite frequently a
spoon of rice and lemon juice is also added. Vegetable dishes
usually tend to be served with its own water (the cooking water)
thus often called in colloquial Turkish sulu yemek
literally "a dish with juice"). Minced meat can also be added to a
vegetable dish but vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil
are often served cold and do not contain meat. Spinach, leek,
string bean and artichoke with olive oil are among the most
widespread dishes in Turkey.
is the name used for stuffed vegetables.
Like the vegetables cooked with olive oil as described above dolma
with olive oil does not contain meat. Many vegetables are stuffed,
most typically green peppers (biber dolması
, or Zucchini
in the U.S. (kabak dolması
leaves (yaprak dolması
). If vine leaves are used, they are
first pickled in brine. However, dolma is not limited to these
common types; many other vegetables and fruits are stuffed with a
meat and/or rice mixture. For example, artichoke dolma (enginar
) is an Aegean region specialty. Fillings used in dolma
may consist of parts of the vegetable carved out for preparation,
rice with spices and/or minced meat.
, although being
named köfte, does not contain any meat. Instead, red lentil is used
as the major ingredient together with spring onion, tomato paste
is a version of karnıyarık
with no minced meat inside.
It can be served as a meze as well.
Fried eggplant and pepper is a common summer dish in Turkey. It is
served with yoghurt or tomato sauce and garlic.
is prepared with grated
squash/courgette or potatoes, egg, onion, dill and/or cheese and
flour. It can be either fried or cooked in the oven.
Rice pilaf can be served either as a side dish or main dish but
(pilav made of boiled and pounded wheat
) is also widely eaten. The dishes made with
), etc., combined
with onion, vegetables, minced meat, tomato paste and rice, have
always been common due to being economical and nutritious.
is pickle made with brine, usually
with the addition of garlic. It is often enjoyed as an appetizer.
It is made with a large variety of vegetables, from cucumber to
courgette. In the towns on the Aegean coast, the water of turşu
is consumed as a drink.
- Menemen consists of scrambled
eggs cooked with tomato and green pepper.
- Çılbır is another
traditional Turkish food made with eggs, yoghurt and oil.
- Ispanaklı yumurta consists of eggs with roasted
spinach and onion.
- Kaygana can be described as the omelet
of Ottoman cuisine. However, it is almost forgotten in the big
cities of Turkey. Kaygana, omelet prepared with flour, used to be
served with cheese, honey or eggplant.
Meze and salads
A plate of Turkish meze
A small bowl of cacık
is a selection of food served as the
appetizer course with or without drinks. Some of them can be served
as a main course as well.
Aside from olives
, mature kaşar
, white cheese, various
mixed pickles turşu
, frequently eaten
Turkish mezes include;
- Acılı ezme (hot spicy
freshly mashed tomato with onion and green herbs)
- Acuka (A circassian meze prepared with
walnut, tomato paste and garlic)
- Arnavut ciğeri (meaning
"Albanian liver") (Fried small pieces of liver served with
onion, parsley and hot pepper)
- Roka salad
- Baba Gannuş - Patlıcan salatası
- Bakla Ezmesi (hummus prepared from
- Börek (very thin dough layers staffed with
cheese, meat or vegetables)
- Cacık (cucumber with yoghurt, dried
mint and olive oil)
- Cevizli Biber (a meze prepared
with walnut, red pepper, pepper paste, onion and cumin)
- Çerkez tavuğu (meaning
- Çiğ Köfte (raw meatball
prepared with bulgur and minced meat)
- Çoban salatası
- Deniz Börülcesi
- Dolma (vine leaves, cabbage leaves, chard
leaves, peppers, tomato, squash, pumpkin, eggplant or mussels
stuffed with rice and/or meat)
- Fasulye pilaki (bean cooked with
garlic, tomato paste, carrot and olive oil)
- Fava (broad/horse bean puree)
- Fried köfte (meatballs)
- Fried vegetables (fried
eggplants, peppers and courgettes with yoghurt or tomato&garlic
- Gavurdağı salad
- Hardalotu (mustard plant salad)
- Hummus (a word coming from Arabic and
prepared from sesame, chickpea, garlic, olive oil, lemon
- İçli köfte (Also known
as oruk or kubbeh, can be
served either as a meze or a main dish; especially in the east of
Turkey, when it is cooked through boiling in a pot, içli köfte is
served as a main dish)
Çiçeği Dolması (a kind of dolma, which you stuff a cabbage
- Kısır (Also known as 'sarma
içi', a very popular meze or side dish prepared with "bulgur",
tomato paste, parsley, onion, garlic, sour pomegranate juice and a
lot of spices).
- Piyaz (white bean or potato salad with
onion and vinegar)
- Semizotu salad (semiz plant
served with yogurt)
- Şakşuka or another version
Köpoğlu (fried and chopped
eggplants & peppers served with garlic yogurt or tomato sauce)*
- Turp otu salad
Mezes prepared from seafood;
- Kalamar (fried and served with tarator
- Octopus (ahtapot) (salad, grilled)
- Mussels (fried and served with tarator
sauce or as midye dolma; mussles stuffed with rice filling)
- Shrimp (karides) (salad, grilled or
cooked with vegetables in güveç-casserole)
Dolma and sarma
Turkish style yaprak
is a verbal
of the Turkish
'to be stuffed', and means simply 'stuffed thing'.
Dolma has a special place in Turkish cuisine. It can be eaten
either as a meze or a main dish. It can be cooked either as a
vegetable dish or meat dish. If a meat mixture is put in, it is
usually served hot with yoghurt and spices such as oregano and red
pepper powder with oil.
olive oil) is the dolma made with vine leaves cooked with olive oil
and stuffed with a rice-spice mixture. Such a type does not contain
meat, is served cold and also referred to as sarma
, which means "wrapping" in Turkish. The
word "sarma" is also used for some types of desserts, such as
pistachio). If dolma does not contain meat, it is sometimes
described as yalancı dolma
meaning "fake" dolma. Dried fruit
as figs or cherries and cinnamon used to be added into the mixture
to sweeten "zeytinyağlı dolma" in Ottoman cuisine. Vine leaves
("yaprak") could be filled not only
with rice and spices but also with meat and rice, in which case it
is served hot with yoghurt etli yaprak
dolma along with quince
dolma was one of
the palace's specialities (raw melon stuffed with minced meat,
onion, rice, almonds, peanuts, cooked in an oven). In contemporary
Turkey, a wide variety of dolma is prepared. Although it is not
possible to give an exhaustive list of dolma recipes, courgette
("lahana") (black or white cabbage),
("pazı") and mussel
("midye") dolma constitute the most common
types. Instead of dried cherry in the palace cuisine, currants are
usually added into the filling of dolma cooked in olive oil.
different type of dolma is mumbar dolması, for
which the membrane of intestines of sheep is filled up with a spicy
Döner meat is being sliced
Other meat dishes
- Kuzu Güveç (lamb cooked in casserole)
- Kuzu Kapama (spring lamb stewed)
- Haşlama (boiled lamb with vegetables and lemon juice)
- Kavurma ("kavurma", which means roasting/parching in Turkish,
is generally used for roasted lamp. Çoban kavurma is a variety of
it, prepared with diced lamb with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms,
peppers and herbs. Kavurma is one of the favorite dishes of
- Ali Nazik
- Hünkar Beğendi (meaning that the sovereign/sultan liked it,
sultan's delight, the dish consists of the puree of grilled
eggplant with cashar cheese topped with cubed lamb meat)
- Türlü (a stew of vegetables and meat cooked in
- Elbasan tava
- Tandır (without adding any water, the meat is cooked very
slowly with a special technique)
- İncik (lamb on the bone cooked
in the oven)
- Boraniye (broad bean/spinach/squash boraniye, vegetables cooked
together with meat, yoghurt and chickpea)
- Mahmudiye (a palace speciality consisting of chicken meat
mixed with honey, apricots, almonds, currants and black
- Moussaka (the Turkish version is
prepared with sautéed and fried eggplants, green peppers, tomatoes,
onions, and minced meat and parsley. Often served with
cacık and pilav. There are also variants with
zucchini, carrots and potatoes)
- Karnıyarık (split-belly
eggplant) (eggplants are cut off and fried. Then they are filled
with minced meat, onion, garlic and tomato paste and cooked in the
- Köfte (meatball) is another meat dish
in Turkey. The word köfte is
sometimes preceded by the name of a town, which refers to the
technique for cooking it or the ingredients or spices specifically
used in that region, for example; İnegöl köftesi, Sultanahmet köftesi, İzmir köfte,
Akçaabat köfte, Bursa köfte,
Islama köfte (mainly in Sakarya province)
etc. Its main ingredients are minced meat, parsley, bread-egg (not
necessarily, usually homemade köfte contains egg yolk and some
crumbled bread) and a range of spices: cumin, oregano, mint powder,
red or black pepper powder with onion or garlic. Kadınbudu köfte is another
traditional speciality; minced meat is mixed with cooked rice and
fried. Içli köfte can be
described as a shell of "bulgur" filled with onion, minced meat and
nuts. Çiğ köfte is a meze
from south-eastern Turkey meaning raw meatballs, prepared with
"bulgur" and raw minced meat. Terbiyeli Sulu Köfte is another
meatball speciality cooked with flour, tomato paste and water in
which lemon and egg sauce is added.
- Sujuk (sucuk) is a form of raw
sausage (made with beef meat and a range of spices, especially
garlic, slightly similar to Spanish chorizo) commonly eaten with
breakfast. Instead of classical sausages (sosis), sujuk is
the most used ingredient for snacks and fast-food style toasts and
sandwiches in Turkey.
- Pastırma is another famous beef
delicacy (see pastrami). Both pastırma and
sujuk can be put in kuru fasulye (dry
beans) to enrich the aroma. Both can be served as a meze as well.
Sucuk or pastırma with scrambled
eggs, served in a small pan called sahan,
is eaten at breakfast in Turkey.
- Kokoreç (the intestines of sheep)
with spices is a traditional low-price fast food in Turkey.
- Liver is fried in Turkish
cuisine. "Arnavut ciğeri" (meaning Albanian liver), served with
onion and sumac, is usually eaten as a meze,
in combination with other mezes such as fava. "Edirne ciğeri" is
another famous liver dish from Edirne.
Liver is first frozen so that it can be cut into very thin layers.
After being cut off, liver layers are fried.
- Kelle (Roasted Sheep's Head)
- Kuzu Etli Enginar (artichokes with lamb)
- Etli Taze Fasulye (green beans stew with meat)
- Pastırmalı Kuru Fasulye (white kidney bean with pastirma)
- Etli Bamya (okra with meat or chicken)
- İşkembeli Nohut (chickpea with tripe)
- Piliç Dolma (stuffed chicken with spice filling)
Turkey is surrounded by seas which contain a large variety of fish.
Fish are grilled, fried or cooked slowly by the buğulama
(poaching) method. Buğulama
is fish with lemon and
parsley, covered while cooking so that it will be cooked with
steam. The term pilâki
is also used for fish cooked with
various vegetables, including onion in the oven. In the Black Sea
region, fish are usually fried with thick corn flour. Fish are also
eaten cold; as smoked (isleme) or dried (çiroz), canned, salted or
pickled (lâkerda). Fish is also cooked in salt or in dough in
Turkey. Pazıda Levrek is a seafood speciality which consists of
cooked in chard
leaves. In fish restaurants, it is possible to
find other fancy fish varieties like balık dolma
fish), balık iskender
(inspired by Iskender kebab),
fishballs or fish en papillote. Fish soup
prepared with vegetables, onion and flour is common in coastal
towns and cities. In Istanbul's Eminönü and other coastal districts, grilled fish served in
bread with tomatoes, herbs and onion is a popular fast food.
In the inner parts of Turkey, trout
is common as it is the main type of freshwater
fish. Popular seafood mezes include stuffed mussels, fried mussels
Popular sea fishes in Turkey include: anchovy hamsi
, sardine sardalya
, bonito palamut
, gilt-head bream çupra
, red mullet
, sea bass
(allied to the cod fish) or bakalyaro
, turbot kalkan
, and white grouper lagos
Baklava is prepared on large trays and
cut into a variety of shapes
One of the world-renowned desserts of Turkish cuisine is baklava
. Baklava is made either with pistachio or
walnut. Turkish cuisine has a range of baklava-like desserts which
, bülbül yuvası
, saray sarması
, sütlü nuriye
, and sarı burma
('Kadayıf') is a common Turkish
dessert that employs shredded yufka. There are different types of
(wring) kadayıf, both of which
can be prepared with either walnut or pistachio.
Although carrying the label "kadayıf", ekmek kadayıfı
is totally different
from "tel kadayıf" (see 
are rich in
syrup and butter, and are usually served with kaymak
(clotted/scrambled butter). Künefe contains
wire kadayıf with a layer of melted cheese in between and it is
served hot with pistachio or walnut.
Among milk-based desserts, the most popular ones are muhallebi
(meaning the bottom of "kazan" because
of its burnt surface), and tavuk göğsü
(a sweet, gelatinous,
milk pudding dessert quite similar to kazandibi, to which very
thinly peeled chicken breast is added to give a chewy texture). A
speciality from the Mediterranean region is haytalı
, which consists of pieces of starch
pudding and ice cream (or crushed ice) put in rose water sweetened
(flour helva is usually cooked after someone has died),
semolina and pine nuts), yaz
(made from walnut or almond), tahin helvası
(crushed sesame seeds),
popular desserts include; Revani (with
semolina and starch), şekerpare,
kalburabasma, dilber dudağı, vezir parmağı, hanım göbeği, kemalpaşa, tulumba, zerde, höşmerim,
paluze, irmik tatlısı/peltesi,
is a "Ramadan" dessert which
consists of very thin large dough layers put in the milk and rose
water, served with pomegranate seeds and walnut. The story tells
that in the cuisines of the Palace, those extra thin dough layers
were prepared with "prayers" as it was believed that if one did not
pray while opening phyllo dough, it would never be possible to
obtain such thin layers.
can be described as a sweet soup
containing boiled beans, wheat and dried fruits. Sometimes cinnamon
and rose water is added when being served. According to legend, it
was first cooked on Noah's Ark
contained seven different ingredients in one dish. All the
Anatolian peoples have cooked and are still cooking aşure
especially during the month of Muharrem.
Some traditional Turkish desserts are fruit-based: ayva tatlısı
(quince), incir tatlısı
(fig), kabak tatlısı
(pumpkin), elma tatlısı
(apple) and armut tatlısı
(pear). Fruits are
cooked in a pot or in the oven with sugar, carnation and cinnamon
(without adding water). After being chilled, they are served with
walnut or pistachio and kaymak
Homemade cookies are commonly called kurabiye
in Turkish. The most common types are
(prepared only with egg, sugar and almond), un kurabiyesi
(flour kurabiye) and cevizli
kurabiye (kurabiye with walnut). Another dough based dessert is
is a traditional
combination especially in rural areas. Tahin is sesame paste and
pekmez is grape syrup. These are sold separately and mixed before
), which was eaten for digestion after meals and called
"rahat hulkum" in the Ottoman era, is another well-known
sweet/candy with a range of varieties.
, cevizli sucuk
(named after its
sucuk/sujuk like shape, also known as Churchkhela
in Circassian region) and pestil
(fruit pestils) are among other common
Marzipan badem ezmesi
(made of ground pistachio) is another common
confection in Turkey.
Another jelly like Turkish sweet is macun
Mesir macunu of Manisa/İzmir (which was
also called "nevruziye" as this macun was distributed on the first
day of spring in the Ottoman Palace) contains 41 different
It is still believed that "mesir macunu" is good for
health and has healing effects. As with lokum, nane macunu
(prepared with mint) used to be
eaten as a digestive after heavy meals. Herbs and flowers having
curative effects were grown in the gardens of Topkapı under the
control of the chief doctor "hekimbaşı" and pharmacists of the
Palace who used those herbs for preparing special types of macun
Dried fruit, used in dolma, pilav, meat dishes and other desserts
is also eaten with almonds or walnuts as a dessert. Figs, grapes,
apricots are the most widespread dried fruits.
(clotted cream-butter) is often served with
desserts to cut the sweetness.
, with or without sugar, is usually served after dinner
or more rarely together with desserts.
Although the majority of Turks profess the Islamic religion,
widely available as in Europe
. However, some
Turks abstain from drinking alcohol during the holy month of
. There are a few local brands of
such as Tekel Birasi, Marmara34 and
and a large variety
of international beers that are produced in Turkey such as Skol,
There are a variety of local wines
Turkish brands such as Kavaklıdere
, Doluca, Corvus, Kayra,
Pamukkale and Diren which are getting more popular with the change
of climatic conditions that affect the production of wine. A range
of grape varieties are grown in Turkey. For the production of red
wine, the following types of grapes are mainly used; in Marmara
Region, Pinot Noir
; in Aegean
, Alicante Bouschet
; in Black Sea Region and
eastern part of the country, Öküzgözü
; in Central Anatolia, Kalecik Karası
in Mediterranean Region, Sergi
. As for white wine, the
grapes can be listed as follows; in Marmara Region, Chardonnay
Aegean Region, muscat
; in Black Sea Region, Narince
; in Central Anatolia, Emir
further info http://www.hayyam.com/uzumler/index.php). In addition
to mass production, it is quite popular to produce wine in private
farms and sell them in the locality. Visitors can find
different "home made" wines in Central Anatolia (Kapadokya/Cappadocia region - Nevşehir), Aegean coast (Selçuk and Bozcaada (an island in the Aegean Sea)).
, a traditional
alcoholic beverage flavoured with anise
the usual drink with meze
, fish or kebabs. As a
matter of fact, the abolition of the monopoly of the state
undertaking "TEKEL" on the production of alcoholic beverages
spurred the production of Raki and wine in Turkey.
At breakfast and all day long Turkish people drink black tea
. Tea is made with two teapots in Turkey.
Strong bitter tea made in the upper pot is diluted by adding
boiling water from the lower.
(salty yoghurt drink) is the most common
cold beverage, which may accompany almost all dishes in
is prepared with kefir grains and
(mild or hot turnip
juice) is another important non-alcoholic beverage which is usually
combined with kebabs or served together with rakı
is a traditional winter drink, which is
also known as millet wine (served cold with cinnamon and sometimes
is another favorite in winter (served
hot with cinnamon). Sahlep is extracted from the roots of wild
orchids and may be used in Turkish ice cream as well. This was a
popular drink in western Europe before coffee was brought from
Africa and came to be known.
) is a traditional Turkish sweet soft drink made of rose hips,
cornelian cherries, rose, or licorice and spices. Some contemporary
adaptations can be found at
In classical Turkish cuisine, hoşaf
(komposto) alternatively accompanies meat dishes and pilav
A cup of Turkish coffee;
is a world-known
coffee which can be served sweet or bitter. In Turkish, there is a
saying that emphasizes the importance in Turkish culture of
offering a cup of coffee to someone: "a cup of coffee has a 40-year
consideration". (For the link between coffee beans left behind by
the Ottoman Army and today's coffee shops in Vienna, take the BBC
test at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4305656.stm). It
should also be noted that although Arabs call their coffee Turkish
coffee, it is different in aroma and taste from the classical
Other non-alcoholic beverages may include:
- Budak Süheyl, Antakya Mutfağı, Hatay 2008, ISBN
- Gürsoy Deniz, Turkish Cuisine in Historical Perspective,
Istanbul, 2006, ISBN 9753295642.
- Halıcı Nevin, Konya Yemek Kültürü ve Konya Yemekleri, Istanbul
2005, ISBN 9756021160.
- Halıcı Nevin, Sufi Cuisine, Saqi 2005.
- Lambraki Mirsini, Akın Engin, Aynı Sofrada İki Ülke, Türk ve
Yunan Mutfağı, Istanbul 2003, ISBN 9754584842.
- Roden Claudia, A New Book of Middle Eastern Food, 2000, ISBN
- Şavkay Turgut, Halk Mutfağımız Geleneksel Tatlarımızdan
Seçmeler, Istanbul 2005, ISBN 9759818027.
- Şavkay Turgut, Turkish Cuisine, Istanbul 2003, ISBN
- Ünsal Artun, Süt Uyuyunca, Türkiye Peynirleri, Istanbul, ISBN
- Ünsal Artun, Silivrim Kaymak, Türkiye'nin Yoğurtları, Istanbul
2007, ISBN 9789750812767.
- Yerasimos Marianna, Osmanlı Mutfağı, Istanbul 2002.
- Zubaida Sami and Tapper Richard, A Taste of Thyme: Culinary
Cultures of the Middle East, London and New York, 1994 and
2000, ISBN 1-86064-603-4.