Turkish food: 17 dishes you should not miss !
Hello friends! Someone has rightly said that, one of the best ways to experience the culture of any country is by indulging in the local cuisine that country has to offer. Don’t you agree? Well, I do. That’s why whenever I am travelling to any place, I make sure to gorge on the delicacies that country has in store for us. Recently, while traveling in turkey, being the foodie that I am, I gorged on Turkish food almost every day. And to my surprise, it turned out to be one of the best cuisines I have had! So much so that I can survive on that Lentil Soup everyday! Yummy!
Food in these days has become a lifeline! Every now & then there are several authentic places opening up in all parts of the world, giving travelers an experience of the local cuisine of the country. Every travel enthusiast will relate when I say that travel and food goes hand-in-hand.
Listed below are some Turkish food, that’ll help you, order the next time you are in Turkey:
English Name: Tortilla.
Pronounced as: Goez-le-me.
Also, in India it’s very popularly known as chapatis / Roti. You can also call it as the elder brother of Chapati/Roti. This dish is apparently one of the staple food that the locals eat. The process involved in preparation of Gozleme is the same as one in Chapatis/rotis i.e the dough is kneaded followed by roasting on a pan. However, Gozleme has eggs & butter making it slightly different from its brother and more fulfilling.
Obviously, this dish cannot be eaten alone. There is variety of stuffing involved like kinds of cheese, meat, vegetables or maybe a mixture of these. It depends upon the preference of each person about how they would eat it. The stuffing is served inside with Gozleme. However, if you eat with the locals, they serve gozleme and the stuffing separately making it entirely upon us to mix & match.
Pronounced as: Kue-ne-fe
Künefe is actually a dessert without any specific English name. This dish involves bread, pistachio and cheese. That’s the only 3 things I could actually figure out after eating, but I’m sure there are many more things that are added to this dish. It is baked at high temperature and served in a heated bowl with the option of having ice-cream, which is externally added on top based on the preference. Although, Kunefe tastes delicious, it tends to get too sugary after a while. Not only that, it’s also fulfilling, so much so that eating just one portion can make you feel as you’ve overeating. There’s no space left in the stomach to try anything else. Therefore, I recommend ordering just one portion among two people initially.
Tip: Don’t judge this dish on its size.
English name: Meatball.
Pronounced as: Koef-tey
Kofta doesn’t need any description. It’s almost available in all parts of the world, each country having its own version in the preparation. Just like Vegetarian Kofta is unique in India. My friends living in other countries give me a confused look when I tell them that there is a vegetarian version of Kofta available in India. They always ask me, “How can there be a vegetarian meatball?” Yes that does make sense that is why I call it unique to India. Similarly, there’s a Turkish version of this humble dish prepared usually with beef, chicken, lamb etc. Before going to Turkey, I had seen only the round-shaped Kofta . But in Turkish food cuisine you can find Kofta of various shapes and sizes along with unique spices available in Turkey.
No English name but popularly known as Chebureki
Pronounced as: Chi-boe-rek
Chebureki is very similar to gozleme. The only difference being that, both are cooked in different styles. Chebureki is semi-circular in shape, stuffed with cheese, meat or both. It’s fried in olive oil. The process involved in preparation of Chebureki starts just like in Gozleme. However, it takes a complete different turn, making the preparation all the more exciting. Not only that, also the taste of both these dishes completely differ from each other. I really loved eating Chebureki in Turkey. I tried this dish a lot many times while I was in Eskisehir. It’s there that I learnt one exciting fact about this dish is that it is unique to the city of Eskisehir in Turkey.
5) Türk kahvaltısı
English Name: Turkish Breakfast
Pronounced as: Tuerk – Kah-val-tasa
From the English name it is quite clear which Turkish food I am gonna tell you about. Yes, it is the breakfast. There are so many options to choose from when it comes to eating breakfast in this country. All you have to do is ask for breakfast & the no. of people who will eat the same and later you’ll be surprised looking at the quantity & the options they have to offer. Their breakfast consists of unlimited bread, unlimited tea, different types of cheese, black & green olives, chocolate spread, fries, meat, sprouts, ketchup, eggs and many more things. Phew! That’s a really long list.
At the end you’ll find no place on the table to keep any more food. I have never eaten this huge a breakfast. I was so astonished the first time I saw that the dishes repeatedly kept coming. Later on every day I used to get so excited for eating breakfast. Now I know what it means to eat like a king. Like literally!
English name: Bagel
Pronounced as: See-meet.
Simit is like those on the go street food breakfast, which you can just grab and walk. I even found sellers, selling simit in the trains. It’s actually a round-shaped bread with seeds and a huge hole in the middle. The best way to eat it is when it’s warm, as the bread is softer to chew. It’s apparently the cheapest food that I have eaten while in Turkey. Although, simit is available everywhere in Turkey, it varies from region to region in size & taste. Today, Simit is a popular dish available in most of the countries in the world.
Doesn’t have an English name.
Pronounced as: Bak-lava.
Baklava is a Turkish sweet, which has become so popular in today’s world, that it hardly needs any kind of introduction. It’s available in all the parts of the world today and I have seen people getting baklava back to their countries, for themselves & their relatives after enjoying their time in the middle-east. Baklava is a range of sweets and there are varieties available in Baklava. Just like there is variety of Ladoos in India. Those possessing sweet tooth, can look forward to taste all types of this popular sweet. Not only there are different types of Baklava, but also each type has different flavors making it all the more vital to try this sweet.
English Name: Turkish Pizza
Pronounces as: Lah-ma-jo-un.
There was this very unique dish that I came across while in Turkey, also known by the name Lahmajoun or Turkish Pizza. Initially, I thought it must be just like any other normal pizza which we often eat in the fast food joints. But it was definitely not what I had expected it to be.
Turkish Pizza or Lahmajoun as they say is an oval-shaped pizza, having thinnest crust of crispy & crunchy bread, topped with sauces, minced meat, some vegetable & herbs. All of which is cut into tiniest of possible pieces, making it tough to name it as a pizza. I tried this dish and liked it, but I wasn’t fond of it as much as the others. Let’s just say, if I had to choose between Turkish Pizza or Lentil Soup, I would definitely go with the latter. But I ask you to try though! Everyone has a different palate you see.
English name: Kebab
Pronounced as: Kay-bap
Just like Baklava, Kebab is another popular dish available worldwide. It is made with meat and is usually grilled or barbecued along with several spices and other ingredients. Kebab is usually ordered as an appetizer in restaurants along with the main course. Iskender Kebap & Doner kebap are the most popular kebab in Turkey. What makes kebab unique to each country are the spices that is being used in the cooking coupled with the method of cooking. Also, the Indian version of Kebab includes a vegetarian kebab just like the Kofta.
10) Fırın sütlaç
English name: Turkish rice pudding
Pronounced as: fee-rin suet-lach
Another dessert, widely popular in Turkey is the rice pudding. This dish is popularly made at home & is also widely available in the restaurants. I actually stumbled upon this dish at a small eatery which served delicious home-cooked food. On deciding what to eat & what not to eat, with a plethora of options in front of me, I finally went ahead with the rice pudding. Although, I didn’t initially know what it was named in English and kept pointing at the dessert. After trying it for the first time, I couldn’t stop eating it. Quite literally, it’s such a simple yet delicious dessert that there are hardly any words to explain it.
This dish was made of Rice (Obviously!) and milk, and I guess there was some sugar. But I couldn’t figure out if there was anything else other than these 3 ingredients. Sometimes simplicity actually works wonders & this Turkish food justifies the statement.
11) Turkish Delight
I’m not sure if there exists any Turkish name for Turkish delight, but I found people calling it Turkish Delight almost everywhere and hence that’s how the title is. It’s a small square jelly like thing, which you can pop now & then like a toffee. It’s sweet in taste & falls into those class of the food which we eat when bored. In Hindi, it can literally be called as ‘chakna’. But this chakna is sweet in taste. A very unique thing that I noticed is that, restaurants & cafes serve Turkish delight when you order Turkish coffee. This jelly obviously has plenty of flavors and is available in different sizes, mostly square. Also, Turkish Delight is a great option to gift and is also light in weight to carry. Hence, next time you plan to get something to gift, you know what to buy! 😉
12) Ekmek Kadayıfı
English name: Bread dessert
Pronounced as: ek-make ka-da-yee-fuh
Very similar to Kunefe, this dessert is another excessively sweet yet inviting dish, which can make you go crazy as soon as you’ve had the first bite. A certain kind of cream is added on the top of the bread which enhances the flavor of the dish. The dish is too sugary, and hence it is recommended to share one dish among 2 people. You can find this dish in all the restaurants & cafes everywhere in Turkey.
No English name
Pronounced as: Kum-pir
Kumpir is basically a unique dish that I tried on a recommendation of a friend. They use boiled & baked potato and fill it up with all types of lentils, cheese, butter or meat as per our preference. You have to tell them what you would prefer as the filling out of variety of options. There are different types of lentils, cheese, mayo, meat, sauces etc. It’s so fulfilling that you wouldn’t feel hungry for a long time after you’ve had just one Kumpir. I love how the Turkish food is healthy as well as tasty, even though it’s street food. Kumpir has all the carbs, proteins, fats ,vitamins etc. Literally a must try when in Turkey!
English name: Fried sweet Dough
Pronounced as: Lok-ma
Another unique Turkish food item, Lokma consists of a platter full of rice, ice-cream and fried sweet dough. This dough is fried in oil and soaked with either of sugar syrup, chocolate syrup or honey. The platter also consists of other things like flavored rice, ice-cream and obviously the Lokma. All these things are then topped with a Turkish curry. The Lokma is stuffed with meat and a variety of spices & condiments making it literally finger-licking! You definitely need to try this dish out when in Turkey!
15) Sigara Böreği
English name: Turkish Cheese Rolls
Pronounced as: si-ga-ra boe-rei
Sigara means cigarette and hence this dish is shaped as a cigarette with cheese and other ingredients stuffed inside them. After the dough is kneaded, the stuffing is placed inside the dough and is rolled to make it as thin as possible. The thinner, the crunchier. Later on they’re fried or baked & basically is one of the most popular snack in Turkey. The best thing about this is that it can be had anytime during the day. This Turkish cheese rolls are lip-smacking and simply delicious. It’s crunchy & the most popular snack among the locals. You wouldn’t want to miss this one!
16) Türk kahvesi & Çay
English name: Turkish coffee & tea
Pronounced as: Tuerk Kah-vesi (Turkish coffee), and Chai (Turkish Tea)
Turkish coffee & tea are the most popular beverages in the entire country. Turks spend their free time drinking either of the beverage. The Turkish coffee is bitter in taste and its difficult to drink it without sugar. It’s dark brown in color and no milk is added to the coffee. The coffee beans are roasted and then boiled gently and then they are served where the grounds are allowed to settle. One unique thing about this coffee is that the Turks predict a person’s future based on Turkish coffee. They look at the empty unwashed cup once you’ve finished drinking and based on that they can predict your future.
Turkish tea on the other hand is prepared in a very unique way. They boil water as well as tea powder + some water in separate containers. Once both the things are boiled they pour the strong tea mixture in a cup & add normal water as per their preference. Hence everyone can prepare their own tea based on how strong they wish to drink. On an average Turkish people drink more than 5 cups of tea in a day (my observation) and its literally their go to drinks in almost all the cafes.
17) Mercimek Corba
English Name: Lentil Soup
Pronounced as: Merci-make Shor-ba
The best is reserved for the last. This soup is my favorite Turkish food out of all the dishes in this list. In Turkey, I tried to make sure to have this soup at least once in a day. This is probably the first Turkish word in the food section that I learnt to make it easier for me to order while in a restaurant. I’m not sure which lentil they use in preparing this soup, but it’s definitely something that I’m gonna practice making at home. It’s so light on the stomach and easily fill up those hunger pangs which pop up in the middle of the day. Mercimek Corba made my life so much easier while I was in Turkey.
Well, my love for Turkish food is never-ending. Turkish cuisine is rated as one of the best cuisine in the world and I literally know why they say that! The reason why I love Turkish food is because almost everything that you order is healthy as well as fulfilling. Not only that it’s easy on the pocket as well. There are so many options for vegetarian & non-vegetarian lovers in this country that it’s difficult to not love Turkish food.
I still have to try much more dishes, especially those which are unique to specific cities or regions. I hope to return to this beautiful country sometime again for Turkish food.
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