Close

Food in Turkey

Recommend

Just like Turkey and its society, Turkish cuisine bears the influence of a variety of neighbouring regions — North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe countries — and can be viewed as a bridge between Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.

Making abundant use of fresh vegetable and of local herbs and spices, Turkish cuisine is as healthy as it is delicious.

Culinary culture

As in many Mediterranean countries, food is of utmost importance in Turkey, and forms a key part of everyday life. In fact, most socialisation events revolve around food sharing.

Your Turkish hosts will consistently insist on feeding you home-made dishes, and demonstrating reluctance can be perceived as indelicate.

It is customary to give some of your home-made food to your neighbours, who will of course return the favour. Most Turkish households are equipped with a device formed of a hanging basket with a pulley system that can be sent to other floors of the building to exchange objects with neighbours without constantly having to go up and down the stairs.

While the staple of continental Anatolian cuisine is grain, vegetable and meat, the Western coastal areas, more influenced by Greek gastronomy, offer many fish or seafood specialties.

Signature Turkish dishes

The mention of Turkish food immediately evokes the kebab (in Turkish, kebap); a seasoned, grilled piece of meat — generally lamb — served on skewers alongside bulgur or inside a pita bread.

Among the other signature dishes are the dolma, made of tomatoes or peppers filled with a mixture of seasoned rice and minced meat, the sarma, a rice-based mixture wrapped inside a vine leaf, and the kofte, consisting of grilled meat-based pads.

Many traditional Turkish dishes involve meat, but vegetable-based options — stews, soups, casseroles — exist for vegetarian or vegan expats.

When it comes to desserts, besides the well-known baklava and lokum, Turkish cuisine offer many interesting options — for example the kunefe, a cheese-based pastry, or the tavuk gogus, a sweet cream including, brace yourself… chicken breast.

 Good to know:

Turks have the custom of eating anything and everything with yoghurt. While this practice is surprising to many expats at first, most eventually come round and follow suit. As goes a common jokes among expats, “you know you’ve spent some time in Turkey when you spontaneously ask for yoghurt.”.

 Useful links:

Turkish chef, Refika Birgul's website
Turkish recipes

Signature Turkish drinks

The ultimately Turkish beverage is undeniably tea, which is consumed at all times of the day and in every possible setting. You will be offered tea in the doctor’s waiting room, in administration services, and even when stuck in the traffic, as street vendors move from car to car to offer drivers a cuppa.

Turkish coffee, an unfiltered coffee made of a strong roasted and ground blend, is almost equally popular. It can be consumed either with sugar or sade (plain).

Ayran, a creamy mixture of yoghurt, water and salt, is deliciously refreshing and is said to have anti-ageing properties.

For mature drinkers, raki, a potent anise-based liquor not unlike the Greek ouzo or the French pastis, is the national alcoholic beverage. It is usually consumed in traditional restaurants called meyhane, along with meze (appetizers) while listening to traditional Ottoman music.

 Good to know:

Consumption of raki is amply codified and subject to dozens of sophisticated rules. Although you are not expected to know all the subtleties, the one important rule is, drink slow. The point is to share a precious moment with loved ones, and there is no such thing as binge-drinking with raki.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.
Recommend
expat.com Your favourite team
Member since 01 June 2008
Small earth, Mauritius
Write a comment

See also

There is so much to discover if you are moving to Istanbul. The city hosts some fifty places of interest and offers various leisure activities to expats.
You are allowed to bring 2 pets (cats, dogs or birds), or 10 aquarium fish with you when travelling to Turkey. All pets must have an identification device.
The Turkish population is world famous for its culture and hospitality. Hence, you should not have much trouble in adapting to their lifestyle.
Turkey has numerous options to keep your child occupied, from day care centres to all manner of entertainment options.
Turkey enjoys wide telecommunications coverage. You can access phone and internet networks almost everywhere in the country.

Moving to Turkey

Find tips from professionals about moving to Turkey

Travel insurance in Turkey

Enjoy stress-free travel to Turkey