In a country laced with as much history and cultural affairs as Turkey, one can expect its food scene to be bursting at the seams with ancestral influence dating back to ancient times. Turkish food is not a once-and-done affair but rather a slowly churning cycle that gently nudges you from one eatery to the next.
Mapping your way through Turkey with your taste buds means sampling the region’s traditional foods no matter how eccentric a meal might sound. As differing flavors race to meet your palate, the culmination of these tangs creates a travel experience in and of itself, connecting you to the locals whose hands prepared the dish.
Journey with us to this foodie haven as we unpack the traditional Turkish foods worthy of being savored during your travels. Leave room for feasting on these delicacies in your itinerary, patiently standing by as your food is cooked to perfection.
Delight in Turkish Seekh Kebabs in Their Country of Origin
With a food culture that heavily relies upon roasting and grilling, Turkey’s culinary traditions laid the groundwork for the “kebab phenomenon” that has never lost its influence on the global market. Although many cultures have taken the concept of kebabs and have put their own spin on it, the Turks honor this commitment to piecing together mouthwatering kebabs out of lamb, chicken, or beef marinated to perfection. This traditional recipe has tested time itself, never fading as a trend.
In present times, Turkish seekh kebabs are most enjoyed when ordered from a street vendor, pairing well with a city stroll through Istanbul or one of Turkey’s rustic towns.
Treat Yourself to Baklava
A favored pastry throughout Turkey and its neighbors, baklava’s sweet taste is a direct result of its layers of filo dough, chopped nuts and honey. The fragile nature of filo dough further attests to the mindfulness that goes into baking each batch of this succulent dessert. As you savor its taste, remind yourself that authentic baklava is hard to come by in most countries outside of Turkey, giving you a valid excuse to stop into every bakery you pass in your outings. Don’t shame yourself for eating more than a week’s fill of the dessert in one day, as even the Turks themselves can’t go too long without needing their fill of baklava once more.
See Why Turkish Soup Is Rumored to Be the Best Worldwide
Having never been to the country before, many foreigners might find it odd when hearing travelers singing praises to the Turks for their exceptional soup. However, having been raised in a culture whose cooking standards are top-quality, the locals have committed themselves to continue their devotion to sourcing fresh ingredients. This unmatched loyalty does not waver when it comes to soups, as the Turks craft these dishes from scratch, emphasizing the crisp flavors that sometimes get lost in the maze of processed ingredients.
From soups as simplistic as lentil or tomato to recipes as outlandish as sheep brain soup, the local cooks never cut corners in their kitchens, elevating this traditional comfort food to new desirable levels.
Eat the Dessert of the Locals
With all things baklava-related aside, the locals pride themselves on their ancestors’ creation of another dessert so near to home that it might never become westernized. The dessert in question is Kunefe, believed to have first gained popularity in the Palestinian city of Nablus. Seemingly contrasting ingredients have never blended together so well as they do in this pastry, calling out to diners to fill their plates with seconds.
This must-try course is made with a spun pastry called kataifi, submerged into a sugary syrup and layered with cheese, pistachio nuts and other varying ingredients. Depending on the region, chosen toppings may differ, giving a valid reason to order this menu item multiple times over the course of your trip.
With Turkish food following closely in step with the Mediterranean diet, it is not a coincidence that its naturally-derived ingredients and flavorful dishes attract a myriad of travelers, transforming bland taste buds into adventurous palates eager to sample more of its regions’ offerings. While journeying through Turkey, you’ll be met with little hunger, as its constant allure of savory dishes, street food and carefully-crafted pastries are often within reach.