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Turkish Food


Main Courses


Bread is the main item in a Turkish meal; try to convince a Turkish man to eat his dinner without it if you dare! The popularity of wheat among Turks dates back to the first settled Turkish States of Asia, where they used it liberally to make different types of bread.

Nowadays, you have breads like the elmek, pide or manti, which is a dumpling with meat filling. Borek is a special bread where thin sheets of dough are layered with cheese or meat mixes, folded or rolled and then baked or fried. Pilaf, another main dish in Turkey is fine-grained rice cooked in butter with onions, meat and vegetables.

Bread is always fresh – none of the pre-packed variety; it is customary for people to pick up warm fresh bread on their way home from work for that evening’s dinner. 

Interesting fact: Anatolia is known as the bread basket of the world!



The typical Turkish meat item is Kebab, dating back to the times when the nomadic Turks first learnt to cook meat over an open fire. The kebab is the Turkish equivalent of fast food but is significantly healthier than its Western counterparts. Popular varieties of kebabs are the `sis` kebab and the `doner` kebab. Sis kebabs are grilled pieces of skewered meat. Doner kebabs are made by stacking alternate layers of ground meat and sliced leg of lamb and grilling them over a slow fire. The fine taste of kebabs really depends on the breed of cattle or sheep rather than the chef or the recipe.

You’ll find Kebapci – kebab restaurants – all over the place in Turkey; these are by far the cheapest restaurants in town. These can range from a hole in the wall to a larger establishment and are the best places to go to experience an authentic kebab.



Turkey grows some beautiful vegetables and a classic vegetable dish can serve as a full meal – if served with bread of course! 

The Turkish use zucchini or eggplants – courgettes or aubergines for the British among us – as their main vegetable, often serving it with tomatoes, green peppers and onions and allowing it to cook in butter and its own juices. Chances are if you’ve been to a Turkish restaurant before, you’ll be familiar with ‘Dolma’. Dolma is a generic term for stuffed vegetables; here vegetables are stuffed with rice or spiced meat fillings and cooked in olive oil. Dolma is eaten with yogurt sauce. 

Tip: If you want to try these, look for a Lokanta – a traditional restaurant serving traditional food, usually aimed at those who work nearby.



Despite the Islamic ban on alcohol, drinking liquor is a popular aspect of Turkish culture, particularly when shared with friends or family in homes or restaurants. Meze dishes accompany alcoholic drinks as a starter and are eaten along with wine, or more commonly, raki – the aniseed-flavored national drink in Turkey. Slices of honeydew lemon, fete cheese with bread, dried and marinated mackerel; savory pastry and cold vegetable dishes are generally served as meze, but this can differ according to the contents of the main meal.



It’s not surprising that a country surrounded by four seas knows how to cook fish! Fish is an important part of the Turkish diet, particularly in winter when it is used to supplement the lack of summer vegetables. Ankara has some of the finest fish restaurants, with fish being transported there daily from the coastal regions. Each fish dish is accompanied by a particular type of vegetable -bonita is eaten with arugula and red onions, for instance, while blue fish is served with lettuce and turbot with cos lettuce. 

The best fish in Turkey is the `Hamsi`. The Turks have fifty ways of cooking Hamsi. They’re certainly not lazy!

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