Ask a food connoisseur and they will tell you that the Turkish cuisine is one of the finest in the world. Perfected in the kitchens of the Ottomans; the cuisine carries heavily influences from both Greek and Roman fare. The use of fresh livestock, aromatic spices and healthy oils is what makes Turkish cuisine such a favourite amongst those looking to eat healthy.
If a Turkey visit looks on cards for you, make sure you don’t come back with the regret of missing out on the authentic versions of these top dishes:
If you like scrambled eggs and have a fondness for vegetable stew, you will enjoy the cross between the two in the form of menemen. The eggs are added to the sumptuous broth of tomatoes, onion and peppers and whisked in quickly to form the tasty and filling egg chunks, swimming in the tomato juice. A breakfast staple in the country, the menemen may be similar to shakshouka in taste but it has its own ardent fan following.
Dishes stuffed with tomato, pepper, onion, zucchini, eggplant, garlic, cabbage, grape leaves, mushroom, meat or any other vegetable are collectively clubbed under the family called Dolma. The dish also uses a generous dose of spices, pine nuts and even dry fruits, served on a bed of rice. Street markets throughout the country serve their own versions of this popular dish that was listed in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists in the year 2017.
Emerging as a favourite even amidst a variety of kebabs that are native to Turkey, Iskender Kebab can be called the king of Turkish Kebabs. Named after Alexander the Great, this sumptuous dish uses a preparation of thinly-sliced marinated and roasted meat, mostly lamb, drenched in butter and topped with a tomato sauce. The dish is served with fresh pita bread and finds many takers at popular restaurants throughout the country.
One Turkish dish that has penetrated the food scene around the world is Mezze, a collection of small dishes usually served at the beginning of the meal. Some of the common ingredients to feature on a Mezze platter include refreshing yoghurt dip, pita bread, hummus, stuffed vegetables, small eggplant-based dishes simmered in tomato sauce, potatoes cooked in olive oil and deep fried cigar-shaped pastries filled with meat and pine nuts. When you are in Turkey, you will find several versions of the platter served with the side of salads, olives, cheese and more.
Ravioli fans will love the Turkish version of the dish that comes in many shapes and sizes. Bits of meat are folded in small pouches of dough, much in the fashion of dumplings. Manti consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb, enhanced in creaminess by the use of yoghurt. A star dish ever since the time of Ottomans, Manti often leaves its tasters licking their fingers.
A sweet surprise from the country’s food treasure, Baklava is a rich and flaky multi-layered pastry, amplified in taste by the use of honey and pistachio dust. Legend has it that the kitchen of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul is where the dish originated, but its heavenly goodness has inspired both Greeks and the Turks to claim that it belongs in their food heritage. Cooked in homes during all major festivals, events and celebrations, baklava can be savoured at all major restaurants in the country, no matter the time of the year.