Each region in Turkey has distinct historical, environmental and climatic characteristics. These differences have influenced the produce cultivated, the livestock that is reared and the local food culture itself. As an aggregate, these factors have shaped the regional cuisines of Turkey. Although Turkish cuisine may be most closely associated with kabab, regional specialties include baklava, cheese, clotted cream, dolma, ice cream and yoghurt.
Baklava is a pastry made from layers of dough, nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. Although the history of baklava is not well-documented, it is believed to have originated in Anatolian Turkey. The version known today was likely developed in the kitchens of Topkapı Palace.
Cheese | Peynir
Cheese is made in every region of Turkey and local varieties often include the name of the area in which they are produced. 60% of the milk supply in the country is used to produce regional cheese and yoghurt. Common varieties of cheese include Beyaz, Hellumi, Kaşar, and Tulum.
Clotted Cream | Kaymak
Kaymak is a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream. In Turkey, the decadent cream has been made for centuries. At one time, entire shops were dedicated to its sale. The allure of kayak is well-documented. In fact, to avoid the temptation, in 1573 women were prohibited from entering kaymak shops.
Dolma | Stuffed Vegetables
Dolma is a family of stuffed vegetable dishes. The word dolma a derivation of the Turkish verb ‘dolmak’ which means ‘to be stuffed.’ Varieties of dolma include eggplant (patlıcan dolması), squash blossoms (çiçek dolması), tomato (domates dolması), pepper (biber dolması) and zucchini (kabak dolması).
Gözleme | Grilled Flatbread
Gözleme is a traditional flatbread made from sheets yufka dough that are lightly brushed with butter and eggs, filled with various toppings, sealed and then cooked over a domed griddle.
Ice Cream | Turkish Dondurma
The history of the Turkish ice cream dates back between 300 and 500 years to the Anatolian city of Maraş. An abundant supply of ice, salep, goat milk and mastic resin led to the creation of dondurma.
Kebab | Şiş, Cağ & Döner
Kebab may be the most recognized dish from Turkish cuisine. In Turkey, the word kebab is associated with any dish that is grilled on a skewer or roasted on rotisserie. Varieties include şiş kebabı, cağ kebabı, and döner kebabı.
Köfte | Turkish Meatballs
Köfte are often referred to as Turkish meatballs. There are hundreds of different varieties. The recipes vary from region to region. They are commonly served with flatbread, yoghurt and sliced onions seasoned with sumac.
Köfte Ekmek | Meatball Sandwich
Köfte Ekmek is a Turkish meatball sandwich. The street food classic is traditionally served on sourdough bread with lettuce, shaved onion and tomato slices. It is a must tase for street food lovers.
Menemen | Turkish Scrambled Eggs
Menemen is a traditional dish that includes softly scrambled eggs with tomato and green peppers. The dish is believed to have originated in the Aegean village of Menemen which located to the north of Izmir.
Meze | Small Plates
Meze are small plates made for sharing. Common meze dishes include cheese (beyaz peynir), eggplant salad (patlıcan salatası), fava puree (fava), fried calamari (kalamar tava), hummus (humus), green salad (yeşil salatası), pepper paste with walnuts (acılı ezme) and yoghurt with herbs (haydari).
Sarma | Leaf Wraps
Sarma comes from the Turkish verb sarmak which means ‘to wrap.’ Sarma commonly refers to a dish of vine leaves rolled around a filling. Some say that the origin of stuffed vine leaves dates back to 335 BC when Alexander the Great besieged Thebes. Today, vine leaf dishes are a staple in Turkish cuisine.
Soup | Çorba
Soup, called çorba in Turkish, is an import part of the regional cuisine. Soups are consumed at all times of days including breakfast. There are a wide variety of regional soups available in Turkey. The most commonly served soup is lentil (mercimek çorbası).
Yoghurt | Yoğurt
Yoghurt is a derivation of the Turkish word yoğurt. It is believed that yoghurt first appeared between 8000 and 7000 BC in the fertile Mesopotamian Plains of Turkey. For thousands of years, yogurt has been an indispensible element in Turkish cuisine.
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