26 incredible Turkish foods you have to try
Turkish food is glorious. Fresh, tasty and simply incredible in its variety. How many of these must-try foods have you tasted?
Most of us know this Turkish staple: ground beef or lamb, shaped into meatballs or patties. They are either stewed or fried and served in sandwiches, pita, with salads or just plain, drizzled with yogurt.
2. Kayisi Tatlisi
This dessert is virtually unknown outside Turkey, and what a shame that is because the dish, which is apricots stuffed with cream and nuts is incredibly, decadantly delicious.
This Turkish breakfast staple is scrambled eggs cooked with sauteed veges. It’s served hot with fresh bread.
This flat, crispy bread topped with minced meat, salad and lemon juice can be rolled up and eaten like a wrap, or pulled apart. It’s sold on almost every street corner in Turkey, and is an ideal on-the-go food.
This delicious, buttery Turkish savoury comes in many forms. It’s most commonly filled with minced meat or spinach and cheese, and is either rolled up or layered. It’s a popular breakfast food - but is also eaten at lunch and dinner. It’s basically an all-day food - and little wonder, as it’s incredibly tasty.
Known as “Turkish pizza,” pide is a chewy, boat-shaped flatbread. It’s topped with a variety of toppings, from mince meat to kofte to spinach and cheese. And of course, drizzled with yogurt.
Deliciously different gullac is a popular treat around Ramadan. Made with dough, milk, rosewater, nuts and pomegranate seeds, many people find the texture unusual. But most agree that it’s a divine treat.
Usually used to describe stuffed vine leaves, dolma is actually any stuffed vegetable. Vine leaves are delicious and incredibly popular, but Turks will fill just about any stuffable vegetable with delicious, aromatic rice and spices. Favourites include peppers, courgettes and aubergine.
This is another sweet treat that has travelled around the world and has changed beyond recognition in some cases. Lokum, or Turkish delight, is a gelatinous sweetmeat that comes in a variety of flavours and with many fillings. Although you’ll find it in most supermarkets now, it’s best eaten in Turkey: fresh, flavoursome and topped with powdered sugar.
10. Sis kebab
Meat on a stick is known throughout the world, but Turkey did it first - and arguably does it best. Sis kebab is usually lamb, chicken or fish, cooked on a rod of metal or wood and served with bread. Eat with bread and salad and a drizzle of yogurt.
This sweet pastry treat is now found in all corners of the globe. But we think it’s best when eaten in Turkey. Filled with nuts, drenched in syrup - this sticky delicious dessert treat is divine when accompanied by a cup of cay.
If you consider rice to be the most boring thing on your plate, you haven’t tried Turkish pilaf. Buttery toasted pilaf goes with everything - especially yogurt.
These Turkish dumplings are a little similar to ravioli, but in a totally Turkish way. The small dumplings are filled with lamb or beef and served with yogurt, butter and spices.
14. Kuzu Tandir
You might need to search high and low for this dish as it’s not seen on many menus - at least, not done the traditional way, which is lamb cooked slowly over coals in an outdoor pit. The fragrant, fall-apart meat is then served with rice, potatoes and - of course - yogurt.
15. Baklali Enginar
This cold dish of peeled artichokes smothered in oil and lemon juice, served with beans and fresh parsley is fresh, healthy and light - the perfect meal on a hot summer’s day.
16. Su Boregi
If lasagne and pastry had a lovechild, it would be su boregi. Su boregi’s in the borek family (the name translates to ‘water borek’). It’s a dough stuffed with cheese and spinach - more moist than borek, but just as satisfyingly tasty.
17. Mozaik pasta
This no-bake Turkish version of chocolate cake is a staple found in most Turkish cafes. It’s heavy, moist, and sinfully moreish. Made with broken biscuits and chocolate, its mosaic appearance when sliced gives it its name.
18. Mercimek koftesi
Vegetarian food isn’t that common in Turkey, but this dish is a delightful exception to the rule: these “meatballs” are made with lentils, bulgur and chopped veges, and are often found on a meze platter as part of a selection of appetisers.
The (often unappealing looking) doners offered in greasy takeaways around the world bear little relation to the tasty offerings found in Turkey. Popular in the evenings, you can find doner on just about every corner. The slow cooked chicken, lamb or beef is served in a pita slice, and accompanied by veges, spices and yogurt.
20. Imam bayildi
Delicious AND healthy, this stuffed aubergine appetiser has a filling of rice, bulgur, mince as well as vegetables. It’s covered in oil and butter and then baked in the oven.
21. Iskender kebab
Long strips of lamb cooked in tomato sauce are served up with rice or pita bread, salad and lashings of yogurt.
Kunefe is fairly fiddly to make, so it’s common to just buy it when you’re out instead. This stodgy dessert is made with cheese and pastry, topped with pistachios.
Turkey’s version of a burrito is a popular on-the-go meal. Slow cooked, fragrant meat - chicken, lamb or beef - is served in a wrap with salad and yogurt.
24. Balik ekmek
The best place to eat a Turkish fish sandwich is along the water, especially along the Bosphorus in Istanbul - it’s practically compulsory during a trip to Turkey’s largest city.
It sounds like an unlikely concoction, but it’s one you have to try when in Turkey as you won’t find it anywhere else: it’s a warm drink made from orchids, topped with cinnamon. Many imitations can be found but pure salep is only found in Turkey, since it’s illegal to export to try and preserve the country’s orchids.
26. Turkish coffee
Bitter, thick and strong, Turkish coffee is rather an acquired taste. Drink it with sugar if you find the bitterness overwhelming - or better still, enjoy with a piece of baklava.