Every country has something that makes it unique, in Turkey, their speciality is the food. The traditional Turkish food is characterized for being very flavoury. There is an incredible number of delicious Turkish dishes, you may know about the Kebab or the Turkish delights, but there is much more.
Today we are going to tell you everything you need to know about the most popular food in Turkey:
Top 10 best Turkish dishes
As we said, there are many Turkish dishes you must try, but talking about all of them is impossible, that´s why we have selected the top 10 most famous Turkish foods:
1) Iskender Kebab
Visiting Turkey and not trying a kebab is like not trying the Turkish food at all. Kebabs are some of the favourite Turkish foods for tourists, but you should know that there are like a million types of kebabs and each of them tastes totally different.
One of the most popular types of kebabs, is the Iskender Kebab, which is very typical from Bursa, a city located in the northwest of Turkey. The origin of this traditional Turkish dish dates back to 1867, when a local cooked it for all the workers in the city´s bazaar.
The Iskender Kebab consists of cooking long strips of lamb in a tomato sauce and serve it over rice and pita bread with yogurt on the side.
2) Turkish delights
The Lokum or better known as Turkish Delights are the most popular Turkish sweets. Imagine how tasty are them, that many people buy them as souvenirs to bring some to their family and friends when they go back to their country.
The origin of these delicious Turkish desserts is from many centuries ago, but it wasn´t until the 19th century when it started becoming popular. The corn-starch was invented during the time of the Ottoman sultans, and it was in Istanbul where they decided to add it and give it a better flavour.
Creating one of the best foods in Turkey is as simple as boiling together water, starch and sugar. The favourite flavours are rose water, pistachio and you can have them with or without nuts.
On third place, we need to mention another of the famous Turkish desserts (you will soon realise that the desserts of Turkey are amazing), in this case we are talking about the popular Baklava which is considered for many people, the best Turkish dessert (even better than the Lokum)
The Baklava is a layered pastry filled with nuts on the inside and covered with syrup and ground pistachios on the outside.
This traditional dish is also known as twisted turban, nightingale’s nest or saray and it´s typical from Antep, a city located in Turkey’s South-eastern Anatolia Region. We truly recommend you eating it when it´s freshly baked.
The meaning of Dondurma is ice cream in English, and it refers to a specific type of ice cream typical from Turkey, more concrete, from the old city of Maraş. This ice cream is also known as Dövme Dondurma (Dövme means sticky) and it´s because of the way the ice cream is prepared.
Other than being a delicious Turkish food, the Dondurma is famous thanks to its vendors who made incredible performances on the street while they sale their ice creams. Due to the elasticity of this ice cream, the vendors would make a lot of tricks before putting the ice cream back into the cone. It´s something very impressive to see.
Another curious fact about the Dondurma is that it´s one of the few ice creams on earth that can be eaten with a knife and a fork. It needed to be on our list about the famous food of Turkey.
Do you know German pretzels? Well, if you do, and if you like them, then you must try the Turkish version, not only because it´s very tasty, but also because is one of the most eaten foods in the whole country.
Local people refer to the Simit as one of the most typical breakfast foods in Turkey, you can find them in every single supermarket, restaurant, and bakery. They normally eat it with a tea or a hot coffee.
The origin of the simit dates back to the Ottoman Empire, although it´s exact origin is not clear yet, it is said that it was created in the 1500s. What we know for sure is that the Simit is one of the most popular snacks in Turkey and you need to try them!
6) Chestnuts & corn on the cob
When you are visiting Turkey, and specially Istanbul, the one thing you must do related to food is to try some of the foods they sell at street markets. In this case we are talking about the corn on the cob and the chestnuts.
There are like a million vendors all around the city and they are well known for having incredibly cheap prices. When you hear them screaming “Bir lira, bira lira!” it means “One lira, one lira” and that´s literally what the food costs at these street shops. For example, the corn on the cob costs around 1TL (just 50 cents).
If you are in a hurry, or you just don´t want to expend much money on your food, this is ideal as it´s really good and it´s very cheap.
7) Turkish tea & coffee
If you are looking for the most famous Turkish drinks, then you need to try their coffee and their tea. Both are delicious, and common in their daily life. While tea is served to show hospitality, their coffee is more like something they need… (Turkish people drink coffee many times a day).
Turkish apple tea is known all over the world for being one of the most delicious teas all over the world, and luckily, they sell it at every single café or restaurant. As we mentioned, Turkish people share the tea to show hospitality, and sometimes they even have a cup of tea with their clients (It´s a typical sale technique in Turkey)
On the other side, Turkish people drink coffee more than a few times per day, and the main reason why they do it, is because they love it. The Turkish coffee is characterized for being very dark and strong, that´s why they usually have it with a few sweet desserts (normally Turkish delights).
You can find all types of food in Turkey, from sweets to meats, from vegetables to fish dishes, there is everything you need, imagine how crazy it is, that they even have something that it´s really similar to the Spanish tapas. These are known as Mezes, but from now on, we can also call it Turkish tapas.
Mezes are small dishes that are served as appetizers before a meal, shared with drinks or sometimes as accompaniments to a main course.
Some of the typical foods of the mezes are cheese, humus, dolma, herbed yogurt or different kinds of salads. Mezes as it happens with the Spanish tapas are very typical to share with friends, but you can have them on your own too.
Photo by Benreis / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)
Although the Gözleme was very common during breakfast or as a light afternoon snack, nowadays it has become one of the most popular street foods in Turkey. Well, not only street food, as you may also find it in restaurants and cafés. The Gözleme is a typical fast food that is very popular all-around Turkey.
The Gözleme is also known as sac boregi and it´s a flat bread that is made out of flour, yogurt, water, yest, olive and depending on your taste you will be able to add other ingredients as meat, vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, cheeses, spinach or minced beef.
It may look like a very simple food, but what you probably didn´t know is that in good restaurants, they hire experts to roll out the paper-thin dough without breaking it.
Before finishing our list of the most popular Turkish food, we couldn´t forget the Pide, or commonly known as the “Turkish Pizza”.
As it happens with the Italian pizza, the pide is a flat pastry base with cheese, meat and vegetables on the top. You can actually add all the ingredients you want to the pide, that´s why it can also be a fantastic vegetarian meal. Once you have it ready, you will heat it in a stone oven and wait until it´s cooked.
Turkish locals love the pide and they normally add something spicy to it. It´s a typical dish in Istanbul and you must try it if you ever visit the country.
Other facts about Turkish foods
Those were some of the most famous Turkish dishes, but there are many other facts about the food in Turkey that you should keep in mind before visiting the country or trying to cook the dishes at home.
Pistachio in every dessert
One of the things that surprised us the most when we went to Turkey was that almost every single dessert had pistachio in it.
No matter what kind of Turkish dessert you try, they always make a variation of it with pistachio inside. Turkish people love pistachio.
Baklava, Künefe and Turkish delights are some of the Turkish sweets with pistachio.
The importance of breakfasts
Breakfasts in Turkey are the most important meal of the day. While in many countries, the breakfast consists in a fruit and a glass of milk with cereals, in Turkey they are able to eat foods like cheese, eggs, olives, butter, cucumbers, tomatoes, jam, fried dough, simit or actually anything they wat.
Every food is allowed during breakfast as they believe is very important to eat a lot early in the morning. It is said that Turkish breakfasts are one of the healthiest, so we should all follow their breakfast traditions.
On another hand, Turkish families normally have gatherings on Sunday to share the breakfast and connect and improve the social relations.
Yogurt on every meal
You may be thinking that we forgot yogurt on our top 10 dishes in Turkey, but the truth is that we just couldn´t add it to the list because yogurt is served in the majority of the dishes.
As soon as you visit a restaurant in Turkey and order your first meal, you will realise that yogurt is always served as a side dish to accompany the main meal.
Another option to eat yogurt in Turkey is by itself. You can have a small bowl of yogurt with olive oil on the top.
Enjoy the famous Turkish food
That´s all you need to know about the typical food in Turkey. As you have seen the Turkish cuisine is incredible, they have an enormous variation of dishes and flavours.
Of course, we have selected what we believe are the most famous foods in Turkey, but there are many other plates. If you think we have missed any of them, we would appreciate if you share your favourite meals with us.
Hope you enjoyed reading about the famous Turkish meals, and if you have any other question or suggestion, please let us know.