One of the many highlights from our trip to Turkey, was definitely the fantastic food we ate EVERYWHERE. We were there for over a week and I can’t think of a single meal I didn’t enjoy. All of us were huge fans of Turkish food anyway, however thanks to our wonderful friend, we tried a whole collection of new dishes we’ve never had before which I couldn’t wait to tell you about!!! So here is the long list of foods you really must try if you are visiting Turkey:
A cross between dumplings and ravioli, ever since our wonderful Turkish sister first made this dish for me I have been HOOKED. Traditional Turkish manti is stuffed with either beef or lamb and it can be baked, fried or boiled and is usually served with a creamy garlic yoghurt and chilli oil drizzle with either sumac or herbs (or both on top). If you haven’t tried it, you need to. (Kind of puts ravioli to shame!)
A flat, crispy freshly baked bread sprinkled with minced meat and served with salad and lemons. Squeeze the lemon juice on top, add some salad and roll it up to eat, it’s a perfect snack food and you can find it everywhere.
A savoury pasty rolled into cigar sized tubes, there are many varieties of börek but my favourite was by far the cheese filled ones. Another great snack that can be had any time of day. The best ones we had were freshly baked and served for breakfast by our friends step-dad. He served us a mountain of them, but they’re so more-ish I assure you nothing went to waste.
Basically a Turkish style pizza. It’s freshly baked flat bread, topped with cheese and again a number of other ‘toppings’ can be added such as spinach, meat – I would recommend getting the one with sujuk – Turkish sausage.
So we often go to Middle Eastern restaurants and order meze, but I have to say this was my first time I had experienced a proper meze platter. On our first night in Istanbul thanks to our Turkish connections, we found ourselves eating on the outdoor terrace at Sur Balik, looking out over the Bosphorus. We didn’t even look at the menus, simply ordered a selection of the cold meze dishes, followed up with a couple more dishes the waiters recommended, as they were fresh out the sea. Try the yoghurt with chilli on top and the broad bean mash, the aubergine ones are great too.
A common dish in the Middle East and one that most people avoid as it’s a stuffed leaf, but they really are worth a taste. Dolma actually refers any stuffed vegetable I believe, but vine leaves are the most popular. Filled with rice and sometimes meat, make sure you squeeze some lemon on top.
7. Kebap – there’s a fair few
Turkey is famous for its kebabs, so you have to try one at some stage. When I think of a Turkish kebab in England, I think more greasy takeaway, but I assure you that is never the case once you’re here. Kebab meat is excellent quality, tender, succulent… cooked to perfection. Sometimes served with yoghurt, if you fancy dipping it into something cool. Ones we recommend: Şiş kebap, çop şiş kebap
8. Turkish breakfast buffet
A MUST order! The breakfast spreads here are worth every single penny. And you HAVE to make sure you try simit bread dipped in the local cream and honey. It’s insanely good! (I miss it already)
9. Su Böreği
We were actually served this on the plane and it was not great… but the real thing is actually pretty tasty. It’s like a lasagna, but not really a lasagna. A sort of soft dough stuffed with cheese or spinach, very filling.
10. All the cheese’s
Don’t know their names. Don’t know what makes them different but they are delicious and you need to try them all (if you see a stringy looking cheese eat it it’s YUM).
11. Mercimek Köftesi
It doesn’t look or sound great, it’s made from bulgar and lentils but I assure you it’s a great appetiser! We tried it whilst we were on a boat as a starter before our fresh fish and it was fantastic!
12. İmam Bayıldı
My sister ordered this in one of the side street restaurants we went to, as it was something my dad had talked about. So I thought I’d give it a go, if you like aubergines it’s pretty yum, stuffed with rice, bulgar and mince meat (like most dishes are) and is usually baked and served with rice. Again, our friends step-dad made it for us at home and it was AMAZING.
13. Çig köfte
It won’t look right, it’s basically a meat tartare type of thing. Wrap it in lettuce leaf with a bit of lemon and boom it is DELICIOUS.
You’ll see signs for kocoreç pretty much everywhere. It’s basically lamb or goat intestines wrapped in offal and then the one we had is kind of minced up. I didn’t really like the sound of it… but it doesn’t taste too bad. It’s cooked in spices and served with salad and it’s cheap as chips. I found the meat a bit chewy, so it’s not something I’d get all the time, but it’s a staple dish and definitely worth a try.
It’s what’s inside the dürüm that makes it to be honest, usually slow cooked chicken, lamb or beef wrapped up in a soft flatbread. Great for on the go, plenty of side street cafes will have them ready for you to take away.
Another flat bread stuffed with cheese baked and crispy with a soft inner. After a long day shopping in the markets go and sit yourself down, get a cold drink and snack on a freshly cooked gözleme, you won’t regret it.
Eat it. We didn’t have a bad one. The calamari was good every time we had it (Mo stated it was the best he’s ever had) and on the boat trip we took we enjoyed a wonderfully grilled fresh sea bass, melt in the mouth!
18. Fresh fruit and veg
They tend to serve fresh fruit and salad with every meal and you have to eat it. Every vegetable has flavour, has a real taste to it, the tomatoes are sweet and the olives… well I had a few I did not enjoy the taste of (too bitter) but on the whole the black ones were immense. And the boys as usual were happy with the corn carts, they are everywhere… in the city, on the beach you can’t miss them.
Oh and don’t forget to wash it all down with…
Turkish tea and coffee
Turkish tea is the perfect way to wash down any meal. I’m not a coffee drinker, but if you are be advised Turkish coffee is very strong. We didn’t have a bad dessert once, the chocolate souffle we had on our first night at Sur Balik was the best one I’ve EVER eaten and on a night out in Bodrum we tried kind of soft and squishy baklava, a pistachio soft pastry roll with ice cream mushed into the centre which was sensational too.
Have you been to Turkey? What other foods would you recommend?