Turkish food is amazing – especially in the heart of Istanbul.
It first came about during the Ottoman Empire over 700 years ago. Most of the dishes in Turkey are influenced by Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Over the centuries, the culinary traditions have formed into a unique style food that is found only in Turkey. The Turks are all about their spices. No matter what dish you are enjoying, you’ll be surprised by the incredible tasty flavors. The best part about Turkish food is how affordable it is! Therefore, you can adventure and try as many dishes as you want, while maintaining a tight budget. So without further adieu, here is my list of the best Turkish dishes:
Döner Kebap: Kebaps- the most classic and authentic Turkish dish. The meat (usually lamb, beef or veal) is cooked on a vertical split and then sliced down and served in a flatbread or pita bread. It is then topped with tomato, lettuce, pickled cucumber and chili sauce, and served with fries. You may have seen similar döner kebaps from street food vendors all around Europe and the Middle East, but they taste much better in Istanbul because of the fresh ingredients! Kebaps are sold in nearly every restaurant, on every street corner and in every market around the city. I think that I ate at least 2 kebaps per day while in Istanbul because they are very cheap (less than $2USD) and filling!
Turkish Baklava: Istanbul has the BEST baklava in the world! In fact, there is evidence that its current form was developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul. In Turkey, baklava is traditionally made by filling between the layers of dough with pistachios, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Many times, it will be topped off with kayak (Turkish sweet dairy product) or ice cream! Baklava is sold all over SItanbul, and you will more than likely see a store that only sells baklava. Enjoy these authentic, traditional, and cheap Turkish treats!
Pilaf: This classic Turkish dish is a local favorite. Traditional pilaf is cooked rice in a seasoned broth. The pilaf may include beans, spices and vegetables such peas and onions. In recent years, this dish has appeared in restaurants with meat and/or fish, making it a perfect and filling meal for diner. Every pilaf dish is unique because each restaurant and household has its own recipe, so the varieties are endless!
Börek: This delicious pastry was made popular during the Ottoman Empire. Börek is a baked (sometimes fried) pastry made of thin flaky dough filled with cheese, minced meat, and/or spinach. If you are on a budget for food, then this is your go-to dish because you can find it on every street corner in Istanbul! Börek may be served in a large pan or cut individually into smaller pieces. When you bite into these incredible pastries, the cheese & meat filling will ooze into your mouth. It is beyond satisfying.
Turkish Tea: The Turks take a lot of pride in their tea. It is often served as a sign of friendship and hospitality during all times of the day. Turkish tea is very strong in flavor, which is why it is served in a tiny tulip-shaped cup. When drinking it, you have to grab by the rim because it is always served so hot. Depending on your preference, you can have it weaker or darker and with or without sugar. The taste may be stronger than you are used to, but it’s worth the experience even if you don’t like it! Many restaurants and cafes will give you tea complimentary with your meal. If not, then order it and try it yourself!
Turkish Coffee: Turkish coffee is not what you’d expect coffee to be like. It is always served in a small cup because the consistency is much thicker and darker than normal coffee. You can actually feel the texture of the coffee beans going down your throat as you sip it! You can get it served with sugar or without, whatever your preference is. Many restaurants and hookah bars will serve coffee complimentary when you sit down before your meal. If you are a coffee drinker, then you are in for a real treat in Istanbul!
Enjoy these amazing Turkish dishes 😀
What’s your favorite Turkish food?