One of the most enjoyable things about living in Istanbul was eating everything I could get my hands on. Here’s my list of foods you must try in Turkey:
A huge roast potato mashed up to creamy perfection, with all the toppings you could possibly wish for. To enjoy this treat at its best, head to Ortaköy, a pleasant suburb on the Bosphorus, just before the Boğaziçi Bridge and Istanbul’s Kumpir capital.
Alongside the Kumpir stalls in Ortaköy, you’ll also find an equal number of stalls selling waffles. Packed with all the toppings you can think of and rolled up ready to go, this Turkish version of the European classic is always a treat on a Sunday arvo.
3. Balık Ekmek
Literally meaning ‘fish bread’, Balık Ekmek is a bread roll sandwich filled with a freshly cooked fish, some lettuce, and onion. In the evenings in Eminönü, by the Galata Bridge, you’ll see the fisher boats transform into floating kitchens to fry up their daily catch for the crowds waiting for their fill.
4. Ciğ Köfte
This dish was originally made with raw meat but since that was outlawed, a vegan version with bulgar and nuts is now ubiquitous. You can eat it in a wrap (dürüm) or in patties rolled up in lettuce leaves.
A Turkish pizza style crispy bead topped with diced beef and herbs. It will come with a side of lettuce and lemon, which you can sprinkle on top before rolling it up like a wrap, and down it in three bites or less, like a true Turk.
Another pizza style dish but with a thicker, doughy crust and a range of toppings, from egg and beef to vegetables. Head to the multicultural suburb of Aksaray for some of the best Pide going round.
Flakey breakfast pastry with your choice of filling. Salty turkish cheese (peynir) is my favourite.
Scrambled eggs with fried green peppers and tomatoes. My favourite Turkish breakfast dish and nowhere does it better than Van Kahvaltı Evi, Cihangir.
Syrupy pastry layered with nuts. Pistachio is classic but walnut is my favourite. For the best of the best, head to Karakoy Güllüoğlu.
Known in the west as Turkish delight. This jelly-like delicacy comes in more flavours than you could possibly imagine. Take advantage of free samples by making friends with a salesman in Istanbul’s Spice Bazar.
Fairy floss textured sweet that comes in a variety of flavours.
Dürüm means wrap, usually filled with slices of meat cooked from the rotating döner. You may know it as a kebab, souvlaki or gyro.
Döner meat in tomato sauce of pieces of bread and smothered in yoghurt. Oh yeah baby.
Turkish raviola pasta filled with beef and served with a spicy garlic sauce and yoghurt. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Mussels mussels mussels. Sometimes they’re deep-fried with garlic sauce (midye tava) or stuffed with rice and herbs (midye dolma). The cluster of seafood shops just off Istiklal street by Nevizade is the place to try these.
Crispy Turkish bagel covered in sesame seeds and sold everywhere.
Turkish Ice-cream is so delicious. It’s a little thicker and stickier than normal ice-cream and sold by cheeky servers in their Ottoman outfits. In the Antalya region on the mediteraenian coast you’ll find smoke-flavoured dondurma (yanık dondurma). It’s different and worth trying.
Sweet cheesy pastry with syrup and pistachios. So damn good.
Liver. For the more adventurous foodies.
Turkish soup is especially good in the winter (it snows Istanbul). The soup with lentils (mercimek) is my fave.
Turkish meatballs yummo. The ones pictures are covered in cheese.
Vine leaves stuffed with herbed rice.
24. Islak hamburger
literally ‘wet hamburger’. Cheap and greasy food you’ll find by Taksim square at 3am when it’s time to head home after a big night out (hence the really awful out-of-focus photo).
25. Tavuk Göğsü
Ottoman dessert made from tiny strands of chicken.
More of a lifestyle than a drink in Turkey. You can never have only one cup. It is compulsory to have at least three with breakfast.
27. Türk Kahvesi
Turks drink their strong, sweet coffee after breakfast. Be sure to get your coffee grains read to find out your fortune.
The aniseed flavoured national alcoholic drink. Great with mezze or seafood.
Scrumptious appetisers, usually served cold. Head to Meze by Lemon Tree for a real mezze feast.
Doner is the meat cooked a rotating vertical grill that you will see on every street corner. You can eat this meat in many different forms including: dürüm, iskender, ekmek arası döner, pilav üstü döner… and the list goes on.
Adana kebap, Urfa kebap, şiş kebap…. ALL THE KEPABS
Salted yogurt drink, just don’t expect it to be sweet. It’s great but takes some getting used to.
33. Home cooking
There’s nothing quite like eating at the dinner table at the home of a Turkish family. Their reputation for outstanding hospitality is well-deserved. Don’t pass up the chance if you’re invited over for a meal.
What’s your favourite Turkish food?