There’s a stunning variety of mouth-watering Turkish dishes, much of it the heritage of Ottoman Empire cuisine. The Turkish menu is a sumptuous and refined blend of influences from countries and regions as diverse as Central Asia, the Middle East and the Balkans. Here’s our pick of seven of the finest to make your mouth water…
This pizza-like dish with a topping of finely minced meat and onions on flaky thin dough comes from the early Syrian cuisine of the Levant, with its name meaning ‘dough with meat’ in Arabic. That sounds good enough on its own, but served with tomatoes and parsley, and rolled up like a taco with a squeeze of lemon, this is a Turkish dish to die for.
Ok, so they’re commonly referred to as meatballs – but the Turkish version comes in all shapes and spices. The köfte basics are ground meat mixed with crumbled bread, minced onions and spices, and they’re most often served with grilled green peppers, chopped parsley, dried red peppers and rice or bread on the side.
As a real staple dish in Turkey, there are lots of variants on the standard pilav. The easiest and one of the most popular, though is sade pilav. This delicious recipe is made from rice cooked with small pasta pieces and aubergine, chickpeas or meat and spices like cinnamon, pepper, thyme and cumin. Why not pick up some local ingredients and try out the dish yourself?
Fancy a twist on your favourite omelette for breakfast? Menemen is a traditional Turkish dish, which includes eggs, onion, tomato, green peppers, and spices such as ground black pepper, ground red pepper, salt and oregano. Fried together omelette-style, this gutsy dish is genuine street food and a brilliant family dish for brunch, lunch or supper.
One of the all-time most popular dishes in Turkey, Manti – which originates from the Anatolia region of the country – are tiny square dumplings filled with spiced ground meat and onion. The marriage of the melt-in-the-mouth dumplings with garlic yoghurt sauce and spice infused olive oil is simply a match made in heaven. You’ll find this dish in all parts of the country, even when you’re exploring some of Turkey’s hidden gems.
This could well be the most beloved lamb dish of all in Turkish cuisine – and that’s saying something in a country where lamb is so often on the menu. Its name, ‘tandir,’ comes from the ancient technique of cooking meat in a special oven made from a pit in the soil – and it’s what makes the meat tender enough to melt right off the bone. This technique is still seen in Turkey, Greece, the Caucasus, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan today.
Sticky sweet, flaky and nutty, a small slice of baklava goes a long way, especially with a tiny cup of strong Turkish coffee. These divine desserts are best served after a mezze feast. They offer rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey – a true taste of the former Ottoman Empire!
Are your tastebuds sufficiently tantalised? We hope these dishes have inspired you to plan a food-filled trip to Turkey this summer!