Turkish dishes

Travel to Turkey for These Famous Turkish Dishes

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Updated on February 4, 2024

Reviewed by Noha Basiony

Our trip today is among the Turkish dishes as there is no doubt that the distinctive foods of a country or people are among the elements that reflect that country’s culture. Therefore, it is one of the things that a tourist cares about when planning a visit. Every traveller spends hours browsing the varieties and types of food that distinguish that country from others. Gladly, Turkey is one country that satisfies its visitors regarding food.

Turkish cuisine is one of the wealthiest international cuisines. It contains different types of dishes. Those dishes date back to the Ottoman Empire; some are still among the country’s traditional foods.

Turkey is a country that mediates the cultures of East and West and combines their cultures. Therefore, you can find various Turkish foods that distinguish one region from another. For example, the local food of Anatolia is different from that of the Black Sea regions.

Without further ado, let’s take a food trip to the most famous Turkish foods you need to try ASAP.

1. Kebab: Most famous Turkish Dish

Kebab is the most popular food in Turkey. Its origins are in the Middle East. However, it is found in several countries with different preparation methods.

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Sources differ in the origin of the word Kebab. Some claim that its origin is Arabic, meaning cooked or roasted meat, while others claim it is an Aramaic word. However, what is certain is that it is a name given to the meat prepared by grilling, either on charcoal or in the oven. 

There are several types of Kebabs, depending on the preparation method and which kind of meat is used. You can even find a style for every city in Turkey. It is one of those delicious dishes you can travel to try it. However, we will mention the most famous kinds here.

Döner Kebab

Döner Kebab is the most famous Turkish food around the world. It is possible to find it wherever you go. There are many different types of Kebabs, but “Döner” comes first to mind when the word “Kebab” is mentioned. 

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It consists of species of meat seasoned with tallow and local spices. It’s cooked on a skewer and hung upright. You can find the same food in other countries with different names; for example, in Arab countries, it is called Shawarma; in Canada, it is called Donair; and in Greece, it is called Gyros.

Döner Kebab meat can be served sliced on a plate with various toppings or stuffed as sandwiches in pita bread or any other type of bread. The sandwich or rolled doner kebab form has become famous worldwide as one of the fast foods sold by kebab shops. The sandwich generally contains a salad or vegetables, including tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, etc. We recommend this dish to you on your next trip to Turkey. 

Iskender Kebab

It is one of the well-known Kebab dishes of the Bursa region. The dish takes its name from its inventor, İskender Efendi, who lived in Bursa in the Ottoman era. 

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The dish consists of sliced grilled lamb, tomato sauce, pita bread, butter and yoghurt. Iskender Kebab; is a special dish. Iskender meat has less fat. Therefore, it deserves to be one of the most famous Turkish foods. In addition, many visitors travel to Bursa to taste that yummy food.

Shish Kebab

Şiş, or Shish Kebab, is another famous kind of Kebab. It is a perfectly chopped lamb grilled on skewers. However, there are varieties of Shish Kebab. It is a popular dish in Turkey and Middle Eastern countries. 

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In addition, there are Shish Kebab recipes in Arab and Greek cuisines due to the effect of having a shared history and close geographies. However, Turkish-style Shish Kebab differs from its counterparts with its sauces, rice, and especially Pita bread.

 Testi Kebab

Testi Kebab, or Nevşehir Testi Kebab, is another type of Kebab. It is unique to the Turkish city of Nevşehir. This type is distinguished for how it is made and presented, its crispness and its ingredients.

The dish is prepared by placing veal or lamb, various vegetables and spices in clay jugs -made in the Avanos district of Nevşehir province- covered with dough and cooking in the oven for 2-2.5 hours. It is usually served by breaking the jug in which the Kebab is cooked. 

2. Manti

Manti is one of Turkey’s most famous dishes. However, you can find it with different names and forms in many different cultures, from Chinese to Italian cuisine

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The most popular type of Manti in Turkish cuisine is Kayseri Manti. One of the essential features of Kayseri Manti – that it requires a little more effort for preparation than the other Manti types – is its size.

Kayseri Manti is small triangles of dough with various fillings and spices. It contains a spoonful amount of mince into the dough shapes. The small pieces of Manti are dropped into boiling water until cooked. Then it is served by putting the yoghurt sauce on top.

 3. Lahmacun

Lahmacun is another Turkish food. Its name comes from “Lahm bi ajin”, which means “meaty dough” in Arabic. 

depositphotos 438656072 stock photo traditional turkish food lahmacun kiymali

It is a flatbread with minced meat, vegetables, lemon and spices on the top and then baked. So we can say it’s like a “Turkish pizza”. However, it’s not identical to pizza in the dough and ingredients. It is a delicious Turkish dish that impresses everyone who tastes it with its crispy dough and flavour.

4. Köfte  

Köfte, or meatballs, is a popular Turkish food. Its main ingredient is minced meat, which is shaped into small balls.

Sometimes ingredients such as breadcrumbs, minced onion, eggs, butter, and seasonings are added to the recipe. We can make the meatballs by frying, cooking or steaming. You can find various meatball dishes depending on the meat and spices used in the recipe.

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Every city has its special recipe for preparing the dish. However, almost every region in Turkey has its kind of meatballs. You can also find this delicious dish in Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, in different cooking techniques.

It is possible to see Meatballs served with vegetables, rice and Pita bread under the name “Köfte” in local restaurants and “Turkish Meatball” outside Turkey.

5. Zeytinyağlı Sarma 

Zeytinyağlı Sarma means; stuffed with olive oil. It is another important legacy of Ottoman cuisine. It is made by wrapping various ingredients with vine leaves, especially bulgur or rice. You can find it stuffed with minced meat instead of rice.

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This dish is made in different countries other than Turkey. You can see it in Greek, Bulgarian and Arabian cuisines. However, every cuisine has its unique touch to the recipe. The dish conquers the hearts of every taste with its flavours. We recommend it to you.

6. Pide 

Pide or Pita is a preferred type of bread in Turkey, especially during Ramadan. It is served beside the meat dishes such as Döner and Iskender Kebab. They also put pieces of Pide under the meat.

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Therefore, it is possible to come across different kinds of Pide prepared with various ingredients in other regions of Turkey. However, Pide types- such as Trabzon Pide- can be a single meal.

The Trabzon Pide is one of Turkey’s most famous dishes and is also known as the Black Sea Pide. The dough is rolled out in a round shape like a pizza, with the delicious Trabzon cheese added in the Middle and thrown into a wooden-fired oven.

7. Simit

Some iconic things never change, like Simit in Turkey. If you visit Turkey, you can see Simit sold everywhere by street vendors pushing carts or carrying baskets. It’s in bakeries and cafes, at tram and metro stations and even on ferries.

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It is said that Simit was first invented during The Ottoman Empire period at Suleyman the Magnificent palace’s kitchens in the 1500s. It is a round-shaped bread covered with sesame. It is widely consumed in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Turkey. Generally, Simit is consumed alone or with cheese, tea or jam for breakfast.

8. Hünkarbeğendi

The Turkish word ‘Hünkarbeğendi’ means ‘Hünkar liked’. It is a palace dish from Ottoman cuisine. The dish is prepared and served usually at home and in some restaurants.

It is made with smoked and spiced eggplant, grilled, pureed, and mixed with milk, melted butter, and roasted flour. Lamb meat is added to the mixture and served. This delicious dish is among the iconic meals of the Turkish cuisine.

9. Gözleme

It is a famous type of pastry. A fragile dough cooked on a hot metal plate. The pie is prepared by filling the thinly rolled yufka -a kind of dough- with various stuffings and cooking it on a metal plate.

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It is a traditional Turkish pastry stuffed with salty white cheese, minced beef or spinach. Although it is often considered a village food, it needs expert handling to roll out the paper-thin dough without cutting it. There are many types of this pastry according to the fillings. For example, you can find it stuffed with cheese, vegetables, minced meat or sausage.

10. Kuru Fasulye 

Kuru Fasulye (dried/white beans) is a cooked bean dish in Turkish cuisine. Its main ingredients are white beans and olive oil. It is prepared with onion and tomato paste. Sometimes, other vegetables or meat are added. Dried beans are served with rice or bulgur.

Generally, it is considered the national dish of Turkey. If you were a fan of the Turkish series, you could see that dish on the dining tables in most series. Try that yummy dish if you visit Turkey one day.

Food is one of the essential and enjoyable things that interest any tourist. Some visitors travel thousands of miles to try one dish.  

We hope you know which dish you’ll try first among these most famous Turkish dishes. If you want to know more about Turkey, you can go through the following articles: Turkish CuisineTop 10 Things to do in Cappadociaand Best Things to do in Izmir.

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