10 Turkish dishes you have to try while in Turkey (+ 7 simple recipes)
Turkish cuisine is rich and there’s definitely more to it than the kebab (which we won’t mention here as we re sure you will try it regardless). During our most recent (3rd) visit to the country, we had a great opportunity to try and learn how to prepare some of the best home made dishes.
Take a look at what you should try while visiting Turkey and if you like cooking, they are also very easy to make at home.
Yoghurt soup (yayla çorbası)
This tasty and easy to make dish is also called ‘highland soup’ and is popular in Turkey and Central Asia. It can be eaten with rice or chickpeas.
– 2 cups of yoghurt
– 5 cups of water
– 1/2 bars of butter
– tablespoon of flour
– egg yolk
– tablespoon of tomato purée
– salt, black pepper, red pepper, peppermint
1) Boil water with 2 handfuls of rice and add a pinch of salt (you can also use a stock cube)
2) Turn off the heat and add a big tablespoon of yoghurt (make sure you don’t add yoghurt to boiling water!)
3) Mix the rest of the yoghurt with one big spoonful of flour
4) Bring back to the boil and add the yolk
5) In the meanwhile, melt the butter in a separate pot
6) Add 1 big spoonful of tomato purée to the butter
7) Add salt and the other spices
8) Mix the content of the two pots together
Dolma sarma are vine leaves stuffed with vegetables (like aubergine, courgette, tomato, pepper, onion) and often mince meat and served with yoghurt sauce. They can be served hot or cold.
They are often eaten as a side dish and are particularly tasty with mantı (see below). A plate of dolma sarma and mantı will cost you in a restaurant around 15 Turkish Lira.
Kuymak (Muhlama) breakfast
Kuymak (or muhlama) is a popular breakfast on the Turkish Black Sea coast and consists of corn flour and melted cheese. It’s served with bread which is dunked into kuymak in order to bring the stringy cheese into your mouth.
– 1 glass of butter
– 2 tablespoons of corn flour
– 1 glass of water
– yellow cheese cut into cubes
1) Melt butter in a frying pan
2) Add flour and mix until brown
3) Add water and mix
4) When the mixture is homogeneous, add cheese and mix until the cheese sticks to the spoon and you can see ‘strings’.
Mantı are dumplings stuffed either with minced lamb or beef. They resemble Chinese baozi or Georgian khinkali and can be bought both in a restaurant and as frozen in a supermarket. They are also eaten in Central Asian countries and taste particularly good with dolma sarma (see above).
In Turkey they are usually served with red pepper, peppermint and yoghurt sauce.
Hamsi (fried anchovies)
Fried anchovies are a very common Black Sea dish and are really easy and quick to prepare and can be shared between many people. They are usually served with onions, salads and bread.
– 1kg of fresh anchovies
– frying oil
– 80-100g cornflour
– salt & pepper (red and black), oregano
– onion, salad vegetables, bread – as a side dish
1) gut (remove the head, split the fish open with your finger and take out the guts) and wash the fish
2) put the fish in a bowl, add salt, pepper and oregano and turn the fish with your hands allowing them to get covered by herbs
3) do the same with cornflour, covering the fish equally
4) crash the garlic and add it to the fish, repeating the procedure
5) pour some oil on the frying pan and line up the fish on cold oil
6) fry them for about 5 min on one side,then cover the pan with a lid and turn it over in order to flip the fish and fry them on the other side for 5 more minutes.
Another super-simple and time-saving dish! It consists of finely ground bulgur (type of groats) and vegetables. It can be served hot or cold, as main dish or as a side.
– 500g finely ground bulgur (köftelik bulgur) but if you don’t have access to it,you can also use couscous,it’s very similar
– 3-4 large tomatoes
– 3-4 large cucumbers
– 1 onion
– 3 tablespoons of tomato purée
– salt & pepper (red and black)
– cumin, peppermint, oregano
1) Cut the onion finely and fry it
2) Add tomato purée onto the pan
3) Put bulgur in a bowl and pour boiling water onto it, wait 5 minutes until soft
4) Chop the vegetables and mix all the ingredients together adding herbs, salt pepper and squeezed lemon.
Lahamcun is eaten both in Turkey and Armenia and resembles pizza. It’s a long piece of dough topped with mince meat, shredded vegetables and herbs, then baked. It’s eaten by placing fresh vegetables inside and rolling it. Unfortunately we have never learnt how to make it ourselves but it can be bought for about 2,50 Turkish Lira (0,90€).
Arnavut Ciğeri (Albanian liver)
Arnavut Ciğeri is a childishly easy to prepare dish and consists of fried lamb’s liver fried with flour and onion. It’s usually served with bread and salad.
– 500g of lamb liver cut into small cubes
– 2 small onions
– 1/4 cup of cornflour
– 1/4 cup of rakı (optional)
– salt, red pepper
– frying oil
1) Put the liver in a bowl, pour rakı, leave for a few seconds then drain rakı
2) Fry onions
3) Toss the liver and flour together in a bowl
4) Fry the liver for about 2-3 minutes, add salt, pepper and parsley
Sucuklu yumurta (breakfast)
Another tasty and easy to make Turkish breakfast that consists of sausage and eggs fried together on tomato purée.
– 1 Turkish sucuk or any other kind of dry spicy sausage (e.g. Spanish chorizo)
– 4-5 eggs
– frying oil
– tomato purée
– salt, pepper
– oregano, parsley, dill
– cumin (optional)
1) On a frying pan heat up oil, lower the flame and add tomato purée and green herbs
2) Place sliced sausage and fry until brown (you can cover the whole pan with sausage or only some parts, it’s up to you)
3) Fry eggs on top of the sausage until done, add salt & pepper
Sütlaç – Turkish rice pudding (dessert)
Sütlaç is a tasty dessert that consists of rice and milk.
– 1 glass of rice
– 2 glasses of water
– 1 litre of milk
– 2 spoons of starch
– 1 glass of sugar
– 2 packets of vanilla sugar
– 200g of liquid cream
1) wash rice and boil it in water (under a lid) until soft
2) add the milk
3) dissolve the starch in 4-5 spoons of water and stir, add it to the rice
4) add the sugar, cream and vanilla sugar and boil together for 10 minutes stirring continuously
Here are some useful Turkish expressions related with food:
– afiyet olsun – enjoy your meal
– eline sağlık – literally “health to your hands”, said to the chef after the food meaning that you enjoyed the meal and that you hope their hands will stay healthy so that they can continue making such tasty food.
– enfes – delicious!
written by: Ania