When it comes to traditional Turkish food, we’re talking fresh, sun-kissed produce mixed with smoky spices and bold, full-on flavours. YUM.
Whether you want to scour spice-scented bazaars for sizzling street food or feast with friends over sharing platters of marinated meats and rainbow-bright salads, look to take a bite out of this little lot…
A takeout favourite
You can’t leave Turkey without trying the original döner kebap! It all starts with lightly-spiced lamb (or chicken) that’s slowly grilled, then thinly sliced and stuffed into a soft flatbread with garlic yoghurt and zingy salad. Whether you grab one on the go or enjoy as part of a sit-down meal, nothing beats the real deal.
Small plates made for sharing
Try a bit of everything with a moreish meze platter. The usual line-up includes things like dolma – rice-stuffed vine leaves – köfte meatballs in a tangy tomato sauce, feta-packed börek pastries and grilled aubergines. It’s all served with puffed-up lavaş bread and plenty of zesty cacik dip on the side for dunking. Think the best of Turkey on a plate.
Tasty breakfast eggs
This is the Turkish take on scrambled eggs. Beaten eggs are mixed in with sautéed peppers, onions and tomatoes, then finished with a pinch of parsley, dollop of yogurt and chilli flakes if you like a kick. Best of all, it’s a scoop-up-with-bread affair. So, ditch the full English and dig into this top taste of Turkey – you won’t regret it.
A sweet, sticky pastry
These bite-sized beauties are buttery, rich and utterly delish. Layers of honey-drenched, flaky filo pastry are filled with pistachios, then baked until golden. Blossom water and cardamom often make their way in there too. Shapes can vary, and garnishes could be anything from more nuts to candied fruit and chocolate drizzle. A must-try? Oh yes.
The jewel in Turkey’s dessert-scene crown, these gooey, sugar-dusted cubes are the prettiest sweet treats around. Classic recipes use rose water for flavour, but bergamot orange and lemon are also popular. Look out for nougat varieties too and be sure to bag a box or two for souvenirs to take home.
Fruity apple tea
A refreshing, apple-infused tea will make a tasty change to your usual brew. This isn’t actually tea per se, but dried apple pieces stewed in boiling water with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. Expect your cuppa in an ornate glass with an almond-based biscuit called a kurabiye on the side.
A powerful pick-me-up
Served in a small cup called a fincan, a traditional Turkish coffee is strong, thick and just the right side of bitter. Of course, you can add sugar to taste, and it’s sometimes brewed with aromatic cardamom. This is one to try in a traditional setting for the full effect, like among the souk stalls of a local bazaar.
An aniseed-flavoured spirit that packs a punch
This super-strong apéritif plays a big part in traditional Turkish food and goes particularly well with seafood thanks to its fragrant, almost fennel-like taste. It’s often enjoyed diluted with two parts water (which turns the clear liquid milky white) and lots of ice.
Cold, frothy yoghurt drink
A rather unusual Turkish drink, give this yoghurt and water drink a go with your spicy kebab and you’ll find it has a really refreshing finish. A sprinkle of salt gives this savoury milkshake an interesting edge, and it’s always served cold. Look out for mint and lime variations if you fancy something a tad sweeter.
Posted: 1st May 2019.