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A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO TURKISH CUISINE

Emma Petty Author: Emma Petty
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Last updated: 1 May 2019

Bursting with tradition and flavour, Turkey’s world-renowned cuisine is anything but boring. From the local ingredients to the age-old cooking methods – there’s something special about the way Turkish food and culture go hand-in-hand. The dishes we’ve shared with you merely skim the surface of what Turkey has to offer – but they’re a great place to start. Get ready to feel peckish, and maybe even book a flight to Turkey to try for yourself!

TEA

Both locals and visitors alike take tea very seriously – much like most of their culinary traditions, the brewing and serving process traces back hundreds of years and plays a large role in the country’s culture. Pronounced, ‘chai’, Turkish ‘çay‘ is always served in a glass on a saucer with sugar cubes on the side. Tea will be offered to you by locals, vendors and restaurateurs like there’s no tomorrow – so get used to taking a break from exploring and enjoy a Turkish cuppa!

COFFEE

You may think that tea and coffee would go hand-in-hand but they each hold a well-deserved place at a Turkish table. Some say that Turkish coffee brewing is one of the drink’s oldest serving methods across the globe. That’s one for the history books! Similar to Turkish Tea’s flavour, traditional coffee is extremely bitter. While you may be tempted to knock back the rocket fuel like an espresso – be sure not to drink it all the way to the bottom. Coffee granules tend to settle towards the base of the cup and are to be avoided. Part of the charm of Turkish coffee is watching it being made and served in a copper cezve; we recommend finding a family run restaurant for the ultimate coffee experience.

  • Istanbul Tea with city in the backround
  • Istanbul coffee with brasswear

SIMIT

Simit to Turkey is what a pretzel is to New York – pretty underwhelming but always seems like a good idea at a time. It's a bagel-esque twisted bread, often covered in sesame seeds and can usually be purchased from street vendors balancing mounds of the stuff on their head with just a plank of wood! If you want to find the good stuff, sit down in a local café and order it hot with either honey or buffalo milk clotted cream. Both are a delicious combination and make what is normally a dry street food a warm and sweet indulgence.

It's a bagel-esque twisted bread, often covered in sesame seeds and can usually be purchased from street vendors balancing mounds of the stuff on their head with just a plank of wood!

PIDE

Say hello to Turkey’s answer to pizza – pide. This delightful handheld dish can be found in an array of shapes and sizes (mostly a canoe shape but basically whichever way fits the most fillings in.) Expect your pide to be made with cheese, a variety of meats or grilled veg – whatever the filling, you’ll be coming back for more. While this doesn’t usually come with a tomato base like the traditional pizza we know and love, it will fill you with the same comfort and delight with its crispy outer dough and flavoursome insides.

KUMPIR

This one is a serious upgrade from your average baked potato – we’d even go as far to say it’s the kind of jacket potato dreams are made of. Once slowly baked, it is mashed up and mixed with tons of butter and cheese, making this creamy, fluffy mush that is like nothing else. Throw some meat, olives, corn (anything really!) on top and you’ve got yourself a kumpir made for champions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of food in your hands, grab two forks and share it with a friend.

BAKLAVA

Perhaps the most well-known dish of the bunch – Baklava dates back to the 2nd Century and is something Turkish families keep close to their hearts. Comprised of layers of filo pastry filled with nuts, syrup and butter, baklava is a dessert you'll certainly need to try if you haven’t already. Baklava is a bit like a snowflake – each one is different. Although it’s an extremely traditional dish, each family will have a sacred baklava recipe they swear by and will not stray from. You can almost taste the history and passion behind each baklava you try, it’s truly something special. Like most Turkish desserts, baklava is best served with cream and pistachios.

  • Istanbul pide dish on chopping board
  • Baklava with syrup being poured over