After spending 1 week in Istanbul, we cannot move on without dedicating an article to tasting Turkish Gastronomy. Overall the Turkish food is out of a variety of exquisite ingredients that are part of its traditional dishes. In the below list you can find our favorite typical Turkish dishes & drinks along with some recommended places to taste them. Enjoy!
Kestane – Turkish chestnuts
Turkish chestnuts, also known as kestane in Turkish, are a popular snack food and street food in Turkey. They typically roast the chestnuts over an open flame, giving them a smoky, nutty flavor and a crispy, browned exterior. In Turkey, chestnut vendors are often selling their wares on street corners and in outdoor markets.
Turkish pide is a traditional Turkish flatbread that is typically a main dish. Pide is out of a dough that is similar to pizza dough. It comes typically with various ingredients such as cheese, vegetables, meat, and herbs. The toppings can vary depending on the region of Turkey and personal preferences.
They often bake pide in a stone oven, which gives it a unique texture and flavor. They usually serve it hot and we can eat it alone or with various dips and sauces. Such as hummus or tzatziki. Pide can also be filled with different ingredients and folded over like a calzone.
Turkish kebab is a traditional Turkish dish with grilled or roasted meat. Typically marinated lamb or beef, with in a variety of spices and seasonings. There are several different types of Turkish kebab, each with its unique preparation and flavor.
One popular type of Turkish kebab is the Adana kebab. Which is out of ground lamb or beef that is mixed with various spices, such as paprika, cumin, and red pepper flakes. The meat is then shaped onto a skewer and grilled over an open flame until it is cooked through. Another type of Turkish kebab is the shish kebab. Which is out of chunks of marinated lamb or beef that are skewered and grilled over a charcoal fire.
Turkish gözleme is a popular Turkish pastry that is out of thin sheets of dough. And then filling them with a variety of savory ingredients. The pastry is then folded over and cooked on a griddle or skillet until it is crispy and golden brown. The most common fillings for gözleme are spinach and feta cheese. But other popular fillings include minced meat, potato, and mushroom. The dough used to make gözleme is typically made from flour, water, and salt. It is rolled out thinly by hand before being filled.
To make gözleme, the filling is spread over one half of the rolled-out dough. Then the other half is folded over to enclose the filling. The pastry is then cooked on a griddle or skillet until both sides are golden brown and crispy.
Köfte or Kofte – Turkish meatballs
Turkish kofte, also known as Turkish meatballs, are a popular dish in Turkish cuisine made from minced meat, typically beef or lamb, mixed with spices, herbs, and sometimes onions, garlic, or breadcrumbs.
The meat mixture is shaped into small balls or patties and then grilled, pan-fried, or oven-baked until cooked through. Kofte can be served on their own as a main dish, or as part of a larger meal with accompaniments such as rice, vegetables, and salad. There are many different regional variations of kofte in Turkey, with different spice blends, herbs, and cooking methods.
Turkish menemen is a popular breakfast dish in Turkey, made with scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green peppers, and onions. The dish is often seasoned with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes, and is served with crusty bread or pide, a traditional Turkish bread.
To make menemen, the onions and green peppers are sautéed in olive oil until they are soft, then diced tomatoes are added to the pan and cooked until they are soft and the juices have released. Then, whisked eggs are added to the pan and gently stirred until they are cooked but still moist.
Turkish mezze is a collection of small dishes or appetizers that are typically served before a main course in Turkish cuisine. These dishes can range from hot and cold dips, salads, pickled vegetables, stuffed grape leaves, grilled meats, and seafood. Mezze is usually served with bread, such as pide or lavash, and accompanied by a variety of drinks, such as raki, a Turkish anise-flavored alcoholic drink, or ayran, a yogurt-based drink. Mezze is a central part of Turkish dining culture, and is meant to be shared among friends and family.
Baklava is a sweet, rich pastry that originated in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions. It is out of layers of phyllo dough with different fillings, but mainly chopped nuts (usually walnuts, pistachios, or almonds), and held together with a sticky syrup or honey. It often comes with cinnamon, cloves, or cardamom, and powdered sugar or ground nuts. Baklava is a popular dessert in many countries, including of course Turkey, Greece, Iran, and Lebanon.
The best Baklava in Istanbul
Some of the places to check out in Istanbul, as they claim to serve the best Baklava:
- Karaköy Güllüoğlu: This century-old shop is one of the most famous places for Baklava in Istanbul.
- Hafız Mustafa: All their shops are in the heart of the city, and they are famous for their high-quality Baklava.
- Baylan Pastanesi: This historic pastry shop in Kadikoy offers handmade Baklava with a variety of fillings.
- Tatbak: Known for its crispy and sweet Baklava, Tatbak has several locations throughout the city.
Turkish delight is a traditional sweet, also known as Lokum, that originated in Turkey. It is out of sugar, water, and cornstarch or gelatin, and then flavored with different ingredients such as rosewater, lemon, pistachio, hazelnut, and cinnamon. They leave the mixture the in a tray to set, after which they cut into small squares and dust with powdered sugar or coconut. Turkish delights have a soft, chewy texture. They are popular in Turkey and the Middle East but have gained popularity all over the world.
Turkish ayran is a traditional Turkish beverage out of a mixture of yogurt, water, and salt. It is a popular drink in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East. To make ayran, you need to mix plain yogurt with water and whisk until it becomes frothy and slightly thickened. Salt then you can add as per your taste. The resulting drink is light, slightly tangy, and has a salty flavor.
Ayran is a healthy drink in Turkey, and the people usually consume it as a replacement for sugary soft drinks. It is rich in probiotics, which can help support a healthy digestive system, and it is also a good source of calcium, protein, and other nutrients found in yogurt. In addition to its health benefits, ayran is also a popular accompaniment to traditional Turkish foods.
Turkish kahve – Turkish coffee
Turkish kahve (coffee) is a traditional style of coffee preparation and is widely consumed throughout the Middle East, Balkans, and parts of Eastern Europe. It is made by grinding roasted coffee beans into a fine powder and then simmering the grounds in water over a stove or fire.
Turkish kahve is often prepared with the addition of sugar, and sometimes with spices like cardamom or cinnamon. It is typically served in small cups, often accompanied by a glass of water and a small sweet treat, such as Turkish delight. The preparation and serving of Turkish coffee is often considered a ritualistic and social activity. It is a symbol of hospitality, and offering a cup of Turkish coffee is seen as a sign of respect and friendship.
Cay – Turkish tea
Turkish cay (tea) is a type of black tea that is widely consumed in Turkey and is an important part of Turkish culture and hospitality. It is typically prepared using a double teapot system, where the smaller pot sits on top of the larger one filled with boiling water. The tea is brewed in the smaller pot, and then the concentrated tea is diluted with hot water from the larger pot before being served.
Turkish cay is usually served in small, clear glasses and is often accompanied by a small sugar cube or Turkish sweet, such as baklava or Turkish delight. It is a staple beverage in Turkey and is consumed throughout the day, with breakfast, after meals, and during social gatherings. It is often served to guests as a symbol of welcoming and respect, and refusing a cup of tea is considered impolite in Turkish culture.
Turkish salep is a traditional hot drink that is popular in Turkey, especially during the winter months. It is out of a flour of the orchid flower, known as salep flour, which then they mix with milk or water and sugar to create a thick, creamy drink. Salep flour is coming from the root of the orchid plant, which is native to the Mediterranean region and is also in parts of Asia and the Middle East. The flour is rich in starch and has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor.
To make Turkish salep, you need to mix the salep flour with hot milk or water and sugar and then simmer until it thickens. They often flavor it with cinnamon or vanilla, and sometimes garnished with ground pistachios or other nuts.
Turkish pomegranate juice is a popular beverage in Turkey, made from the juice of fresh pomegranates. Pomegranates are a fruit that is native to the Mediterranean region and they cultivate it in Turkey for thousands of years.
The juice is by extracting the juice from the seeds of the pomegranate fruit, often using a juicer or by hand squeezing. They may add sugar or honey to the juice to sweeten it, depending on personal preference.
Bomonti is a brand of beer from Turkey. They founded it in Istanbul in 1890 and was the first brewery in the country to produce Western-style beers. The brand became a household name in Turkey and was famous for its high-quality beers. Today, Turkish Bomonti offers a range of beers, including pilsner, amber ale, wheat beer, and stout. The beers are famous for their balanced flavors, smooth texture, and crisp finish.
Efes beer is a brand of beer from Turkey. It got its name after the ancient city of Ephesus, which is famous for its well-preserved ancient ruins. Efes beer was first introduced in 1969 and quickly became one of the most popular beers in Turkey. The brewery that produces Efes beer has since expanded to several countries in Europe and Asia, including Russia, Serbia, Kazakhstan, and Moldova. Efes beer has high-quality ingredients, including malted barley, hops, and yeast, and is famous for its smooth, refreshing taste. The brand offers a range of beers, including pilsner, light beer, wheat beer, and dark beer.
Turkish Angora wine is a type of white wine that is from the Cappadocia region of central Turkey. The wine is out of the Emir grape, which is an indigenous grape variety that is primarily growing in this region. The Angora wine is light with fruity flavor, and floral aroma. It is typically pale in color, with a slightly sweet taste and a smooth finish.
Turkish raki is a traditional alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey and the surrounding regions. It is a clear, anise-flavored spirit that is similar to other anise-flavored drinks such as ouzo, arak, and absinthe. Raki is from distilled grapes and flavored with aniseed, which gives it its distinct licorice-like taste. They typically serve it cold and diluted with water, which causes it to turn milky white, a process known as “louche”. Raki is a strong drink with an alcohol content of around 40%.
Drinking alcohol in Turkey
Drinking alcohol is legal in Istanbul. However, Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, and there are some restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol. Hence some neighborhoods in Istanbul, such as Fatih, have stricter regulations on alcohol sales and consumption due to their cultural and religious significance.
Enjoy our discounts in Istanbul
Useful information about Turkish Gastronomy
How expensive is eating out in Istanbul?
Eating out in Istanbul can vary greatly depending on the type of restaurant and location. Generally, street food and local restaurants are relatively affordable, while high-end and tourist-oriented establishments can be quite expensive. On average, a meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost around $10-15 USD per person. While upscale dining can range from $30-50 USD or more per person. Prices may also change depending on the currency exchange rate and seasonal fluctuations.
Is Turkish kitchen healthy?
Turkish cuisine includes a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean proteins such as fish and poultry. And healthy fats like olive oil. Therefore this makes it generally considered a healthy diet. However, some traditional dishes may contain high amounts of salt, sugar, and fat. So it’s essential to be mindful of portions and balance meals with variety. Overall, a healthy Turkish diet emphasizes whole foods and home-cooked meals, which are beneficial for health.
Can you drink alcohol in Istanbul?
Drinking alcohol is legal in Istanbul. However, Turkey is a predominantly Muslim country, and there are some restrictions on the sale and consumption of alcohol. That results in purchasing alcohol is only legal for those over the age of 18. And there are alcohol sales prohibitions between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am. Moreover, some neighborhoods in Istanbul, such as Fatih, have stricter regulations on alcohol sales. And consumption due to their cultural and religious significance.
Best experiences in Istanbul
Istanbul has everything a visitor needs to have a great experience. Its natural beauty draws visitors from around the world- along with its numerous important sites and cultural heritage. As far as things to do in the place go, there are plenty of activities available for visitors.
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