How Many Of These Strange Turkish Foods Have You Tried?
Turkey’s worldwide reputation as the home of the simple kebab is misleading because the country is much more than a nation of meat lovers. Dig into the culture and history of Turkish cuisine, and the kebab myth is so far from the simple truth. In households around Turkey, families eat salads, soups and vegetable dishes. This stems from generations of farming the land and a belief in a healthy diet. Supermarkets sell fast food and microwave meals, but high prices deter most people from even trying them.
Greek, Armenian, Kurdish and Georgian cultures have also influenced Turkish cuisine. While professional, trained chefs working in the Ottoman Empire’s kitchens always dreamt up new dishes to satisfy the demanding sultans. All these factors influenced Turkish cuisine, and, sometimes, we see Turkish food dishes that look out of place, seem weird, or are a rather unusual combination of ingredients.
At Property Turkey though, we always say to try something once so how many of these strange Turkish food dishes have you eaten?
7 Strange Turkish Foods Dishes Worth Eating
1: Koc Yumurtasi (Ram's testicles)
I have vivid memories of joining a family in the annual Kurban Bayram religious festival. We sacrificed an animal, cut it up to distribute meat for the poor, friends, and family. Not wanting to offend or ignore traditional values, I was unsure of what meat to save and what was waste. I asked the mother what I was holding in my hands, and she delightful informed me they were the testicles and were to remain intact because they are delicious. Chefs will season and grill them to perfection but on occasions can also boil them. The surprised look on my face prompted an outbreak of laughter. I have yet to taste this dish though because I have never seen it on a restaurant menu and wouldn’t even consider cooking it myself.
2: Kokorec (Stuffed intestines)
Turks dislike waste and offal dishes are plentiful in Turkey. One version sold everywhere as street food is Kokorec. This combination of offal stuffed into intestines with spices is grilled on a spit. Once ready, the chef chops it into small pieces and serves it in a donor wrap or between two slices of crusty beard with lettuce, salad, and tomato. Out of all, street food dishes in Turkey, this is my favourite but make sure you find a recommended and well-known vendor. If you head to Gaziantep, also try Dalek that is the spleen. It is a lot nicer than it sounds.
Also Read: Turkish Street Food for Hungry Travellers.
3: Tavuk Gogsu (Chicken Dessert)
Tavuk Gogsu is hard to wrap your head around. The concept of chicken served in a dessert dish is strange, yet it is a famous recipe from the Ottoman era. Boiled chicken is stripped down to its bare fibres, and any good Turkish cook will say it is impossible to taste its flavour. Most foreigners say that despite its strange combination of ingredients, it is a delicious dish. You can also make it at home, although the complicated recipe takes time so try it in a restaurant to ensure Turkish perfection.
4: Islak Burger (The Wet Burger of Taksim)
The wet burger is famous in the Taksim area of Istanbul after a night out partying. Said to be the perfect food for soaking up alcohol, soggy bread might not appeal to many but most people who have tried it, swear by it. Burger buns are doused with a rich tomato and garlic sauce and then placed in a glass steamed cabinet. Served with the meat burger, some Istanbul locals say it is the best street food you can try while in the city.
5: Cilbir (Eggs, Yogurt and Paprika)
Also originating from the Ottoman Empire, Turks call Cilbir an ideal comfort food. Eggs and yoghurt together reminds me of a sloppy mess, but if cooked right, the egg yolk is runny but still firm and once fused with the yoghurt and paprika, the flavours blend well together. Other versions also include garlic sauce, or melted butter poured on top.
6: Cig Kofte
Often compared to steak tartar or the Armenian dish Chee Kufta, Cig kofte is a combination of ground, raw lamb or beef mixed with herbs and spices into a small shaped firm ball. Drizzled with lemon juice and wrapped with a leaf of lettuce, chopped bulgur, onions and tomato paste can also be added. This dish attracted safety concerns because it includes raw meat so it is a lot harder to find, but in the Southeast of Turkey, Sanliurfa, Turks still eat this regional speciality as a delicious snack or appetiser.
7: Iskembe Corbasi (Tripe soup)
Iskembe Corbasi may not seem weird to earlier UK generations who remember tripe as a staple part of the working man’s diet. But many other nationalities and the younger UK population, wouldn’t dream of eating tripe. In Turkey, tripe soup is another well-known hangover food, often consumed after the nightclubs close. The popularity is reminiscent of days when the soup was the standard breakfast before the eggs, tomatoes, and cucumber we see today. With the added ingredients of lemon and garlic, it is not as bad as it sounds, and the hangover theory works! This is the last of our strange Turkish food dishes worth trying but read about more Turkish soups to taste while on holiday.
Something Else to Try
Although it is a drink, Salgam makes your taste buds work on full fuel. Popular in the Southeast cities of Turkey, the weird combination of pickled carrot juice, mixed with the ferment of bulgur rice flour and turnips does not appeal to most foreigners, but if you want to try it, the famous floating fish boats of Galata Bridge in Istanbul sell it. Salgam is just one of many alcoholic and non-alcoholic Turkish beverages to taste.
More from Our Turkish Food and Drink Series
Delicious Turkish Mezes: These appetisers are the perfect start to any meal and thanks to regional and cultural influences, are mouth-watering. Including vegetables, seafood, and many other choices, Turkish mezes are also healthy.
Tasty Turkish Desserts and Sweets: Anyone with a sweet tooth will find many suggestions for what to eat while in Turkey. From the simple ice cream to the nation’s favourite of Baklava, expect to gain a few pounds after working your way through this sugary list.
Turkish Food Customs: Turks place great emphasis on food. It’s about much more than getting rid of hunger and is an integral part of their day. Whether you want to know table etiquette when invited around to a Turk’s house or simple manners to adhere to while in a restaurant, this article lists them all.
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