Obviously you have to try at least 2 different types of kebabs (there are so many!)
Turkish cuisine embodies the best of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, with artfully grilled meats and fish, fresh salads and vegetables and flavorful seasonings and spices. Food culture in Turkey is rich and incredibly varied, drawing influences from Ottoman, Greek, Central Asian and European cuisines.
Obviously you have to try at least 2 different types of kebabs (there are so many!) but here are 10 other delicious Turkish foods that you may not know about that you have to try the next time you’re in Turkey!
1. Islak kebab/hamburger
Drunk in Istanbul at 4 a.m. and got the drunchies (drunk munchies)? If you head over to the back of Taksim Square, you’ll find a row of food stands that sell Islak hamburgers, or wet hamburgers, that will fulfill your drunken cravings for junk food. Islak burgers are small hamburgers that only cost about 3 lira and they just contain some kebab meat with greasy tomato sauce between two soft buns. They’re cheap and delicious and drunkenly stumbling over to Taksim Square to get one is a must-do when in Istanbul.
Köfte refers to Turkish meatballs that are usually made with lamb but sometimes also with beef. Turkish köfte is held together with breadcrumbs, mixed with spices and can be fried, grilled or baked. It’s often served as an entrée with rice, salad, yogurt, tomatoes and peppers.
Halloumi is a delicious grilled or fried cheese dish that makes a fabulous substitute for falafel in kebabs or a yummy topping for salads. It’s usually made of sheep or goat cheese and as a similar texture to mozzarella. It’s an absolute must-try for anyone who loves cheese and for those looking for a new delectable vegetarian entrée to try!
Baklava is Turkey’s divine gift to the world. It’s a flaky, rich pastry drenched with syrup or honey that’s filled with chopped nuts in between the layers, and some sprinkled on top. The most common one is with pistachio that are diamond shaped and sprinkled with green pistachios and they’re to die for. Baklava is the most common dessert that is served in Turkish restaurants and make the perfect gift to bring back from Turkey for your friends back home.
Dolma is most often found as an appetizer or part of a meze (see next item) in a restaurant. It consists of rice, meat and/or grains with vegetables stuffed into grape leaves and it’s a very common dish that originates from the Ottoman Empire.
Meze is a fun Turkish food tradition and it refers to the many small dishes which people share as appetizers or even a full meal with drinks. In many Turkish restaurants, a waiter will bring out a large tray with up to 20 selections of small hot and cold dishes for you to choose from. The most common dishes you’ll see are hummus, tabbouleh, calamari, white cheese and more. Eating an all-inclusive meze with drinks is a must for at least one of your meals while in Turkey. Because who doesn’t love a full spread of dips, finger food and snacks over a real meal?
Menemen is a yummy Turkish breakfast item that consists of eggs, tomatoes, onions and spices. It’s served as a runny dip that you eat with bread in the morning. It originates from a town called Menemen in Izmir, hence the name of the dish.
8. Kuru Fasulye
Kuru fasulye is a delicious comfort dish that’s simply made of white beans, tomato paste and sometimes meat. It’s a warm and buttery stew that may or may not contain lamb, thin slices of beef and at 360istanbul in Beyoglu, I even tried an amazing variation of it with octopus! Eat it with rice and you’ll feel fulfilled and ready to go every time.
9. Corba soup
One will most definitely run into small storefronts and restaurants selling corba soup when walking around in Turkey. It’s Turkey’s traditional red lentil soup that’s usually also made with tomato. It’s very simple yet filling and it’s perfect to eat at any time of the day during the winter.
Raki is the national alcoholic aperitif of Turkey that’s similar to ouzo or Sambuca in other countries. It has a strong anise flavor that probably appeals more to some people than others. Raki is usually consumed with fish or melon or with meze.