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Turkish Delight: What to Eat in Turkey

Picture it: you’re sitting on a balcony in the warm morning sun, a light sea breeze ruffling through your hair as the sound of seagulls and lapping waves drifts up from the harbour below. On the table: rich aromatic coffee, fragrant apricots with thick yogurt, warm fresh bread, a pot of local honey, cheese with herbs, a bowl of marinated olives and nuts, eggs with tomatoes and light spices…

One of the best parts about traveling is the food; eating out makes a holiday feel relaxed and luxurious, and it’s one of the most enjoyable ways to discover different cultures. Whether you’re considering a holiday to Turkey or simply want inspiration for cooking at home, this week we decided to take a look at some of Turkey’s best food. Turkish cuisine is so rich and varied that we’ll focus here on just two of the country’s incredible culinary contributions: seafood and kebabs.

Eating seafood is a must while travelling in Turkey, especially if you are near the coast. Harbours from Istanbul to Bodrum are filled with restaurant boats serving freshly-caught seafood on board, and restaurants and cafés line the shores serving fresh fish, shellfish and anything else your stomach could desire.

Prices range from street-food-cheap to Michelin-star-expensive, and eating mussels stuffed with lemon and rice while drinking a chilled glass of white wine will wipe away any remnants of stress from back home. Don’t miss the balik ekmek – locals and visitors alike flock to harbours around the country for these freshly barbequed fish sandwiches, and the seasonal arrival of sardalya (fresh sardines) is cause for celebration.

Kebabs in Turkey are a world away from the greasy takeaways you might grab on a Saturday night out. In Turkish cuisine, kebab can mean a meat-based dish (and that means lamb as well as pork, veal, beef, chicken or fish) served in a wide variety of ways, including skewers, pizza, meatballs and casseroles. Here are just a few varieties of this hugely popular dish:

  • Ramadan kebab – this variety features grilled meat served on a pide (similar to a pizza) with garlic, tomato, yogurt and mint
  • Köfte kebab – lamb and herb meatballs are grilled on a skewer
  • İskender kebab – this northern Turkish dish features thin strips of lamb piled on a pitta bread and topped with spicy tomato sauce, butter and yogurt
  • Testi kebab – somewhere between a stew and a pie, this Anatolian specialty consists of meat, pearl onions and vegetables cooked in a clay pot and sealed with dough
  • Arbor kebab – this kebab is essentially a stuffed lamb crepe
  • Tokat kebab – veal, potatoes, aubergine, tomatoes, onion and garlic are served in a specialty pitta bread

Is your mouth watering yet? We could fill a whole book rhapsodising about the incredible pastries, fresh olives and grapes, tasty mezze and more that Turkey has to offer – and best of all, this Mediterranean diet is great for your health (and for your waistline, if you have more self-control than us)!