Turkish cuisine

Turkish cuisine (Turkish: Türk mutfağı) is the cuisine of Turkey and the Turkish diaspora. It is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Mediterranean, Balkan, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and Eastern European cuisines.[1][2][3] Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including those of Southeast Europe (Balkans), Central Europe, and Western Europe.[3] The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm taking influences from and influencing Mesopotamian cuisine, Greek cuisine, Levantine cuisine, Egyptian cuisine, Balkan cuisine, along with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia (such as mantı, ayran, kaymak), creating a vast array of specialities. Turkish cuisine also includes dishes invented in the Ottoman palace kitchen.

Turkish cuisine varies across the country. The cooking of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and rest of the Anatolia region inherits many elements of Ottoman court cuisine, including moderate use of spices, a preference for rice over bulgur, koftes, and a wider availability of vegetable stews (türlü), eggplant, stuffed dolmas and fish. The cuisine of the Black Sea Region uses fish extensively, especially the Black Sea anchovy (hamsi) and includes maize dishes. The cuisine of the southeast (e.g. Urfa, Gaziantep, Adıyaman and Adana) is famous for its variety of kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as baklava, şöbiyet, kadayıf, katmer and künefe.

Especially in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees grow abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking.[4] The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia has many famous specialties, such as keşkek, mantı (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme. Food names directly cognate with mantı are also found in Chinese (mantou or steamed bun) and Korean cuisine (mandu) and it is generally considered to have originated in Mongolia during the 13th century.[5]

Specialties are often named for places, and may refer to different styles of preparation. For example, Urfa kebap is less spicy and thicker than Adana kebap. Although meat-based foods such as kebabs are common in Turkish cuisine abroad, meals in Turkey largely center around rice, vegetables, and bread.

Culinary customs


Simit, a circular bread with sesame seeds, is a common breakfast item in Turkey.

A traditional Turkish breakfast is rich in variety. A typical serving consists of cheese (beyaz peynir, kaşar, etc.), butter, olives, eggs, muhammara, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and kaymak, sucuk (a spicy Turkish meat similar to sausages), pastırma, börek, simit, poğaça, açma, fried dough (known as pişi), as well as soups are eaten as a morning meal in Turkey. A specialty for breakfast is called menemen, which is prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs. The breakfast menu can also include kuymak (depending on the province the dish is also known as muhlama, mıhlama and yağlaş). Another specialty is the Balkan Turkish dish çılbır, also known as Turkish eggs, made with poached eggs and yogurt. Invariably, Turkish tea is served at breakfast. The Turkish word for breakfast, kahvaltı, means "before coffee".

Homemade food

Homemade food is still preferred by Turkish people. Although the newly introduced way of life pushes the new generation to eat out, Turkish people generally prefer to eat at home. A typical meal starts with soup (especially in wintertime), followed by a dish made of vegetables (olive oil or with grounded meat), meat or legumes boiled in a pot (typically with meat or minced meat), often with or before Turkish pilav,[6] pasta or bulgur pilav accompanied by a salad or cacık (diluted cold yogurt dish with garlic, salt, and cucumber slices). In summertime many people prefer to eat a cold dish of vegetables cooked with olive oil (zeytinyağlı yemekler) instead of the soup, either before or after the main course, which can also be a chicken, meat or fish plate.


Food from Turkey including börek and sarma
Adana kebabı

Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major foreign fast food chains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still rely primarily on the rich[clarification needed] and extensive[clarification needed] dishes of Turkish cuisine. In addition, some traditional Turkish foods, especially köfte, döner, kokoreç, kumpir, midye tava, börek and gözleme, are often served as fast food in Turkey. Eating out has always been common in large commercial cities.[7] Esnaf lokantası (meaning restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesmen) are widespread, serving traditional Turkish home cooking at affordable prices.

Summer cuisine

In the hot Turkish summer, a meal often consists of fried vegetables such as eggplant (aubergine) and peppers or potatoes served with yogurt or tomato sauce. Menemen and çılbır are typical summer dishes, based on eggs. Sheep cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons and melons also make a light summer meal. Those who like helva for dessert prefer "summer helva", which is lighter and less sweet than the regular version.

Key ingredients

Manti of Kayseri

Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialties include lamb, chicken, beef, fish, rice, eggplants, green peppers, onions, garlic, lentils, beans, zucchinis, chickpeas and tomatoes. Average per person per year beef consumption is 15 kilograms (33 lb).[8] Nuts, especially pistachios, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, together with spices, have a special place in Turkish cuisine, and are used extensively in desserts or eaten separately. About 1.5 kg of pistachios are eaten per person per year, some packaged and some used in desserts such as baklava.[9] Semolina flour is used to make a cake called revani and irmik helvasi.

Commonly used spices and flavorings:
Name Turkish Used in References
Allspice Yenibahar or Dolma bahar Dolma, vegetables, pilav, fish, köfte [10][11]
Anise Anason Peksimet, rakı, used to season nut and dried fruit mixtures in both sweet and savory dishes [10][11]
Black pepper Kara biber Egg dishes, meat dishes, Laz böreği [10]
Cardamom Kakule Rarely used, mostly in coffee. A common ingredient in Persian and Indian desserts, Turkish variations usually replace it with vanilla and rosewater. [11]
Cinnamon Tarçın Desserts, pastries, salep, boza, iç pilav, fish, lamb, vegetables, tomato sauces, milk puddings, desserts [10][11]
Clove Karanfil Fruit compotes, spiced black tea, meat casseroles, sweets, breads, pastries [10][11]
Coriander Kişniş Extremely rare. Used in some fish and meat dishes, particularly in southern and eastern Anatolia. [11]
Cumin Kimyon Kofta spice, pastirma [10]
Fenugreek Çemen otu Vegetables, fish, breads, pastirma [11]
Haspir Yalancı safran (fake saffron) Used primarily in the regional cuisine of Gaziantep to give yogurt soups a saffron-like tint [10]
Isot Urfa biberi Ciğ köfte [10]
Mahlep Mahlep Baked goods [10]
Mastic Sakız Used in milk desserts, ice creams, Turkish delight [10]
Nigella seeds Çörek otu Savory pastries, homemade cheese. Can be mixed with coriander, cumin and haspir to make a spice for fish. [10][11]
Red pepper kırmızı biber, pul biber Garnish for soups, manti, Adana kebab [10][11]
Rose water Gül suyu, Su muhallebisi, güllaç, aşure [10]
Poppy seeds Haşhaş Bread, rolls, meat, fish, light sauces and yogurt dressings [11]
Saffron Safran zerde, pilav [10]
Salep Salep A winter beverage made with milk and sugar [10]
Sesame seeds Susam Simit, tahini, helva [10]
Sumac Sumak Juice from sumac berries can be used in a marinade for fish or chicken. Ground sumac can be used to season salads, pilav and soups. A spice mix of sumac, dried thyme and roasted sesame seeds is used with grilled meats. [11]

Olives are also common on various breakfasts and meze tables frequently. Beyaz peynir and yoğurt are part of many dishes including börek, manti, kebab and cacık.

Oils and fats

Meze from Turkey uses different types of oil.

Butter or margarine, olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil, and corn oil are widely used for cooking. Sesame, hazelnut, peanut and walnut oils are used as well. Kuyruk yağı (tail fat of sheep) is sometimes used in kebabs and meat dishes.


The diverse flora of Turkey means that fruit is varied, abundant and cheap. In Ottoman cuisine, fruit frequently accompanied meat as a side dish. Plums, apricots, pomegranates, pears, apples, grapes, figs and quinces along with many kinds of citrus are the most frequently used fruit, either fresh or dried, in Turkish cuisine. For example, komposto (compote) or hoşaf (from Persian khosh âb, literally meaning "nice water") are among the main side dishes to meat or pilav. Dolma and pilav usually contain currants or raisins. Etli yaprak sarma (vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice) used to be cooked with sour plums in Ottoman cuisine. Turkish desserts do not normally contain fresh fruit, but may contain dried varieties.


In some regions, meat, which was mostly eaten only at wedding ceremonies or during the Kurban Bayramı (Eid ul-Adha) as etli pilav (pilav with meat), has become part of the daily diet since the introduction of industrial production. Veal, formerly shunned, is now widely consumed.

The main use of meat in cooking remains the combination of ground meat and vegetable, with names such as kıymalı fasulye (beans with ground meat) or kıymalı ıspanak (spinach with ground meat, which is sometimes served with yoğurt).

Alternatively, in coastal towns cheap fish such as sardalya (sardines) or hamsi (anchovies) are widely available, as well as many others with seasonal availability. Poultry consumption, almost exclusively of chicken and eggs, is common. Milk-fed lambs, once the most popular source of meat in Turkey, comprise a small part of contemporary consumption. Kuzu çevirme, cooking milk-fed lamb on a spit, once an important ceremony, is rarely seen.

Dishes and foods

Dairy products

Fresh ayran with a head of foam

Yoğurt is an important element in Turkish cuisine.[4] In fact, the English word yogurt or yoghurt derives from the Turkish word yoğurt. Yoğurt can accompany almost all meat dishes (kebabs, köfte), vegetable dishes (especially fried eggplant, courgette, spinach with minced meat, etc.), meze and a specialty called mantı (folded triangles of dough containing minced meat). In villages, yoğurt is regularly eaten with pilav or bread. A thicker, higher-fat variety, süzme yoğurt or "strained yogurt", is made by straining the yoğurt curds from the whey. One of the most common Turkish drinks, ayran, is made from yoğurt. Also, yoğurt is often used in the preparation of cakes, some soups and pastries. Kashk is a fermented and strained sour yogurt that can be consumed on its own as a cheese, or used as an ingredient in soups.


Beyaz peynir with eggs
Varieties of tulum: center: Otlu tulum peyniri, or tulum with herbs, in Ankara

Turkey produces many varieties of cheese, mostly from sheep's milk. In general, these cheeses are not long matured, with a comparatively low fat content. The production of many kinds of cheese is local to particular regions. There are 193 different cheeses in Turkey, but only 8 of these cheeses have geographical indication.


A Turkish meal usually starts with a thin soup (çorba). Soups are usually named after their main ingredient, the most common types being mercimek (lentil) çorbası, yogurt, and wheat (often mashed) called tarhana çorbası. Delicacy soups are the ones that are usually not the part of the daily diet, such as İşkembe soup and paça çorbası, although the latter also used to be consumed as a nutritious winter meal. Before the popularisation of the typical Turkish breakfast, soup was the default morning meal for some people. The most common soups in Turkish cuisine are:

Yayla çorbası, also known as yogurt soup
Sulu köfte
Ezogelin soup



Lahmacun ready to be served
Maraş börek can be with cheese, potato, spinach and many other fillings.

Turkish cuisine has a range of savoury and sweet pastries. Dough-based specialties form an integral part of traditional Turkish cuisine.

The use of layered dough is rooted in the nomadic character of early Central Asian Turks.[13][14][15] The combination of domed metal sač and oklava (the Turkish rod-style rolling pin) enabled the invention of the layered dough style used in börek (especially in Su Böreği, or 'water pastry', a salty baklava-like pastry with cheese filling), güllaç and baklava.[13][14][15]

Börek is the general name for salty pastries made with yufka (a thick phyllo dough), which consists of thin layers of dough. Su Böreği, made with boiled yufka/phyllo layers, cheese and parsley, is the most frequently eaten. Çiğ börek (also known as Tatar böreği) is fried and stuffed with minced meat. Kol böreği is another well-known type of börek that takes its name from its shape, as do fincan (coffee cup), muska (talisman), Gül böreği (rose) or Sigara böreği (cigarette). Other traditional Turkish böreks include Talaş böreği (phyllo dough filled with vegetables and diced meat), Puf böreği. Laz böreği is a sweet type of börek, widespread in the Black Sea Region.

Pogača is the label name for dough based salty pastries. Likewise çörek is another label name used for both sweet and salty pastries.

Gözleme is a food typical in rural areas, made of lavash bread or phyllo dough folded around a variety of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle (traditionally sač).

Katmer is another traditional rolled-out dough. It can be salty or sweet according to the filling. Katmer with pistachio and kaymak is a sweet food and one of the most popular breakfast items in Gaziantep.

Lahmacun (meaning dough with meat in Arabic) is a thin flatbread covered with a layer of spiced minced meat, tomato, pepper, onion or garlic.

Pide, which can be made with minced meat (together with onion, chopped tomatoes, parsley and spices), kashar cheese, spinach, white cheese, pieces of meat, braised meat (kavurma), sucuk, pastirma or/and eggs put on rolled-out dough, is one of the most common traditional stone-baked Turkish specialities.

Açma is a soft bagel found in most parts of Turkey. It is similar to simit in shape, is covered in a glaze, and is usually eaten as a part of breakfast or as a snack.

Pilav and pasta

Manti with yogurt and garlic, spiced with red pepper powder and melted butter.
Typical Turkish pilav. Rice with orzo.
Turkish English Definition
Sade pilav Plain rice pilav is often the primary side dish to any meal. It is made by sauteing rice with butter until lightly toasted and simmering with water or stock.
Domatesli pilav Tomato pilaf
Etli pilav Rice containing meat pieces
Nohutlu pilav Rice cooked with chickpeas
İç pilav Rice with liver slices, currants, peanuts, chestnut, cinnamon and a variety of herbs
Patlıcanlı pilav Rice with eggplant
Özbek pilavı Uzbek pilaf Rice with lamb, onion, tomato, carrot
Acem pilavı Persian pilaf Rice with lamb, cooked in meat broth with pistachios, cinnamon, etc.[16]
Bulgur pilavı A cereal food generally made of durum wheat. Most of the time, tomato, green pepper and minced meat are mixed with bulgur. The Turkish name (bulgur pilavı) indicates that this is a kind of rice but it is, in fact, wheat.
Perde pilavı Rice with chicken, onion and peanuts enveloped in a thin layer of dough, topped with almonds
Hamsili pilav Spiced rice covered with anchovies, cooked in an oven. A speciality from the Black Sea Region.
Frik pilavı Rice made of burnt wheat. A speciality from Antioch/Antakya.
Manti Turkish pasta that consists of folded triangles of dough filled with minced meat, often with minced onions and parsley. It is typically served hot topped with garlic yogurt and melted butter or warmed olive oil, and a range of spices such as oregano, dried mint, ground sumac, and red pepper powder. The combination of meat-filled dough with yogurt differentiates it from other dumplings such as tortellini, ravioli, and Chinese wonton. Manti is usually eaten as a main dish. Minced chicken and quail meats are also used to prepare mantı in some regions of Turkey.
Erişte Homemade pasta is called "erişte" in Turkey. It can be combined with vegetables but it can also be used in soups and rice.
Keşkek A meat and wheat (or barley) stew
Kuskus The Turkish version of couscous, which can be served with any meat dish or stew

Vegetarian dishes

Vegetable dishes

İmam bayıldı

A vegetable dish can be a main course in a Turkish meal. A large variety of vegetables are used, such as spinach, leek, cauliflower, artichoke, cabbage, celery, eggplant, green and red bell peppers, string bean and sunchokes. A typical vegetable dish is prepared with a base of chopped onions, carrots sautéed first in olive oil and later with tomatoes or tomato paste. The vegetables and hot water will then be added. Quite frequently a spoon of rice and lemon juice is also added. Vegetable dishes usually tend to be served with its own water (the cooking water) thus often called in colloquial Turkish sulu yemek (literally "a dish with juice"). Minced meat can also be added to a vegetable dish but vegetable dishes that are cooked with olive oil (zeytinyağlılar) are often served cold and do not contain meat. Spinach, leek, string bean and artichoke with olive oil are among the most widespread dishes in Turkey.


Dolma is the name used for stuffed vegetables. Like the vegetables cooked with olive oil as described above dolma with olive oil does not contain meat. Many vegetables are stuffed, most typically green peppers (biber dolması), eggplants, tomatoes, or zucchini/courgettes (kabak dolması), vine leaves (yaprak dolması). If vine leaves are used, they are first pickled in brine. However, dolma is not limited to these common types; many other vegetables and fruits are stuffed with a meat or pilav mixture. For example, artichoke dolma (enginar dolması) is an Aegean region specialty. Fillings used in dolma may consist of parts of the vegetable carved out for preparation, pilav with spices or minced meat.

Mercimek köftesi, although being named köfte, does not contain any meat. Instead, red lentil is used as the major ingredient together with spring onion, tomato paste etc.

İmam bayıldı is a version of karnıyarık with no minced meat inside. It can be served as a meze as well.

Fried eggplant and pepper is a common summer dish in Turkey. It is served with yoğurt or tomato sauce and garlic.

Mücver is prepared with grated squash/courgette or potatoes, egg, onion, dill or cheese and flour. It can be either fried or cooked in the oven.

Pilav can be served either as a side dish or main dish but bulgur pilavı (pilav made of boiled and pounded wheat – bulgur) is also widely eaten. The dishes made with kuru fasulye (white beans), nohut (chickpeas), mercimek (lentils), börülce (black-eyed peas), etc., combined with onion, vegetables, minced meat, tomato paste and rice, have always been common due to being economical and nutritious.

Turşu is pickle made with brine, usually with the addition of garlic. It is often enjoyed as an appetizer. It is made with a large variety of vegetables, from cucumber to courgette. In the towns on the Aegean coast, the water of turşu is consumed as a drink. It comes from the Persian "Torshi", which refers to pickled "Torsh" (sour) vegetables.

Egg dishes

Menemen (left) as part of a Turkish breakfast

Meze and salads

A plate of Turkish meze
A bowl of Cacık, the original form of seasoned, diluted yoğurt with chopped cucumber, eaten throughout the former Ottoman world, under different names, like the tarator and tzatziki of the Balkans
A plate of piyaz
A plate of kısır decorated with green olive and cucumber pieces
Çoban salatası

Meze is a selection of food served as the appetizer course with or without drinks. Some of them can be served as a main course as well.

Aside from olive, mature kaşar kashar cheese, white cheese, various mixed pickles turşu, frequently eaten Turkish mezes include:

Dolma and sarma

Turkish yaprak sarma

Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak 'to be stuffed (or filled)', and means simply 'stuffed thing'.[17] Sarma is also a verbal noun of the Turkish verb sarmak 'to wrap', and means simply 'wrapped/wrapping'. Dolma and sarma have a special place in Turkish cuisine. They can be eaten either as a meze or a main dish. They can be cooked either as a vegetable dish or meat dish. If a meat mixture is put in, they are usually served hot with yogurt and spices such as oregano and red pepper powder with oil. If the mixture is vegan, only olive oil, rice or bulgur are used, with some nuts and raisins inside, especially blackcurrant.

Zeytinyağlı yaprak sarması (stuffed leaves with olive oil) is the sarma made with vine leaves stuffed with a rice-spice mixture and cooked with olive oil. This type of dolma does not contain meat, is served cold and also referred to as sarma, which means "wrapping" in Turkish. Dried fruit such as blackcurrant, raisins, figs or cherries, and cinnamon and allspice used to be added into the mixture to sweeten zeytinyağlı dolma in Ottoman cuisine. Vine leaves (yaprak) could be filled not only with rice and spices but also with meat and rice, etli yaprak sarma, in which case it was often served hot with yogurt. The word sarma is also used for some types of desserts, such as fıstık sarma (wrapped pistachio).

Melon dolma along with quince or apple dolma was one of the palace's specialties (raw melon stuffed with minced meat, onion, rice, almonds, cooked in an oven). In contemporary Turkey, a wide variety of dolma is prepared. Although it is not possible to give an exhaustive list of dolma recipes, courgette ("kabak"), aubergine ("patlıcan"), tomato ("domates"), pumpkin ("balkabağı"), pepper ("biber"), cabbage ("lahana") (black or white cabbage), chard ("pazı"), and mussel ("midye") dolma constitute the most common types. Instead of dried cherries in the Palace Cuisine, currants are usually added to the filling of dolma cooked in olive oil. A different type of dolma is mumbar dolması, for which the membrane of intestines of sheep is filled up with a spicy rice pilav-nut mixture.

Meat dishes

Kokoreç dish in Ankara
Pastirma with three eggs, a common Turkish breakfast dish


Alinazik kebab over garlic-eggplant puree with vermicelli rice pilaf, grilled tomato and green bell pepper
Doner being carved
İskender kebap
Pastirma is a highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef.

Main article: Kebab

For a list of kebab variants, see List of kebabs.

Kebab refers to a great variety of meat-based dishes in Turkish cuisine. Kebab in Turkey encompasses not only grilled or skewered meats, but also stews and casseroles.


Turkey is surrounded by seas that contain a large variety of fish. Fish are grilled, fried or cooked slowly by the buğulama (poaching) method. Buğulama is fish with lemon and parsley, covered while cooking so that it will be cooked with steam. The term pilâki is also used for fish cooked with various vegetables, including onion in the oven. In the Black Sea region, fish are usually fried with thick corn flour. Fish are also eaten cold; as smoked (isleme) or dried (çiroz), canned, salted or pickled (lâkerda). Fish is also cooked in salt or in dough in Turkey. Pazıda Levrek is a seafood speciality which consists of sea bass cooked in chard leaves. In fish restaurants, it is possible to find other fancy fish varieties like balık dolma (stuffed fish), balık iskender (inspired by İskender kebap), fishballs or fish en papillote. Fish soup prepared with vegetables, onion and flour is common in coastal towns and cities. In Istanbul's Eminönü and other coastal districts, grilled fish served in bread with tomatoes, herbs and onion is a popular fast food. In the inner parts of Turkey, trout alabalık is common as it is the main type of freshwater fish. Popular seafood mezes at coastlines include stuffed mussels, fried mussel and fried kalamar (squid) with tarator sauce.

Popular sea fish in Turkey include:[22]

Istavrit on display at a fish market


See also: List of Turkish desserts

Baklava is prepared on large trays and cut into a variety of shapes.
Sütlaç, or Turkish rice pudding
Turkish delight
Kazandibi, means the bottom of cauldron because of its burnt surface.

Cuisine in the late Ottoman Empire was heavily influenced by alafranga style food, in fashion all over Europe and in Russia in the late 19th century. In the Turkish context it has been regarded as a symbol of Westernization. This influence could still be seen in the earliest cookbooks of the early Republican period like the first edition of the Türk Kadınlar Tatlı Kitabı (Turkish Women's Book of Desserts) which had recipes for Western style sponge cake (pandispanya), mille feuille, petit beurre and other western desserts. The revised edition published in 1966 devoted far more attention to traditional confectionery like şekerpare, baklava and helva.[23]

One of the world-renowned desserts of Turkish cuisine is baklava. Baklava is made either with pistachios or walnuts. Turkish cuisine has a range of baklava-like desserts which include şöbiyet, bülbül yuvası, saray sarması, sütlü nuriye, and burma.

Kadaif ('Kadayıf') is a common Turkish dessert that employs shredded yufka. There are different types of kadaif: tel (wire) or burma (wring) kadayıf, both of which can be prepared with either walnuts or pistachios.

Although carrying the label "kadayıf", ekmek kadayıfı is totally different from "tel kadayıf". Künefe and ekmek kadayıfı are rich in syrup and butter, and are usually served with kaymak (clotted/scrambled butter). Künefe contains wire kadayıf with a layer of melted cheese in between and it is served hot with pistachios or walnuts.

Katmer is made as a dessert with kaymak (clotted cream,) and like many other delicacies from Gaziantep and Kilis, is also filled and topped with pistachios.

Among milk-based desserts, the most popular ones are muhallebi, su muhallebisi, sütlaç (rice pudding), keşkül, kazandibi (meaning the bottom of "kazan" because of its burnt surface), and tavuk göğsü (a sweet, gelatinous, milk pudding dessert quite similar to kazandibi, to which very thinly peeled chicken breast is added to give a chewy texture). A speciality from the Mediterranean region is haytalı, which consists of pieces of starch pudding and ice cream (or crushed ice) put in rose water sweetened with syrup.

Helva (halva): un helvası (flour helva is usually cooked after someone has died), süt helvası (its ingredients are raw cow's milk, butter, flour and sugar. it is cooked by frying the top in an oven at 250 °C. Is popular in Bursa) irmik helvası (cooked with semolina and pine nuts), hoşmerim (cheese helva), yaz helvası (made from walnut or almond[24]), tahin helvası (crushed sesame seeds. it is also eaten for breakfast), kos helva, pişmaniye (floss halva).

Other popular desserts include: Revani (with semolina and starch), şekerpare, kalburabasma, dilber dudağı, vezir parmağı, hanım göbeği, kemalpaşa, tulumba, zerde, paluze, irmik tatlısı/peltesi, lokma.

Güllaç is a dessert typically served at Ramadan, which consists of very thin, large dough layers put in milk and rose water, served with pomegranate seeds and walnuts. A story is told that in the kitchens of the Palace, those extra thin dough layers were prepared with "prayers", as it was believed that if one did not pray while opening phyllo dough, it would never be possible to obtain such thin layers.

Aşure can be described as a sweet soup containing boiled beans, wheat and dried fruits. Sometimes cinnamon and rose water is added when being served. According to legend, it was first cooked on Noah's Ark and contained seven different ingredients in one dish. All the Anatolian peoples have cooked and are still cooking aşure especially during the month of Muharrem.

Some traditional Turkish desserts are fruit-based: ayva tatlısı (quince), incir tatlısı (fig), kabak tatlısı (pumpkin), elma tatlısı (apple) and armut tatlısı (pear). Fruits are cooked in a pot or in an oven with sugar, carnations and cinnamon (without adding water). After being chilled, they are served with walnuts or pistachios and kaymak.

Homemade cookies/biscuits are commonly called "kurabiye" in Turkish. The most common types are acıbadem kurabiyesi (prepared only with eggs, sugar and almonds), un kurabiyesi (flour kurabiye) and cevizli kurabiye (kurabiye with walnuts). Another dough based dessert is ay çöreği.

Tahin-pekmez is a traditional combination especially in rural areas. Tahin is sesame paste and pekmez is grape syrup. These are sold separately and mixed before consumption.

Lokum (Turkish delight), which was eaten for digestion after meals and called "rahat hulkum" in the Ottoman era, is another well-known sweet/candy with a range of varieties.

Cezerye, cevizli sucuk (named after its sucuk/sujuk like shape, also known as Churchkhela in Circassian region) and pestil (fruit leather) are among other common sweets.

Marzipan badem ezmesi or fıstık ezmesi (made of ground pistachios) is another common confection in Turkey.

Another jelly like Turkish sweet is macun. Mesir macunu of Manisa/İzmir (which was also called "nevruziye" as this Macun was distributed on the first day of spring in the Ottoman Palace) contains 41 different spices. It is still believed that "mesir macunu" is good for health and has healing effects. As with lokum, nane macunu (prepared with mint) used to be eaten as a digestive after heavy meals. Herbs and flowers having curative effects were grown in the gardens of Topkapı under the control of the chief doctor "hekimbaşı" and pharmacists of the Palace who used those herbs for preparing special types of macun and sherbet.[25]

There are also several types of ice creams based on salep powder or corn starch with rose water such as dondurma (Turkish gum ice cream), dried fruit ice cream, ice cream rose petals.

Dried fruit, used in dolma, pilav, meat dishes and other desserts is also eaten with almonds or walnuts as a dessert. Figs, grapes, apricots are the most widespread dried fruits.

Kaymak (clotted cream-butter) is often served with desserts to cut through their sweetness.

Turkish tea or Turkish coffee, with or without sugar, is usually served after dinner or more rarely together with desserts.

Street food

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Turkish desserts served with Dondurma


Alcoholic beverages

See also: Turkish wine, Alcohol laws of Turkey, and Beer in Turkey

Toasting with rakı, in typical rakı glasses

Although the majority of Turks profess the Islamic religion, alcoholic beverages are as widely available as anywhere. Rakı (pronounced [ɾaˈkɯ]) is the most popular alcoholic drink in Turkey.

A Turkish beer brand, Efes Pilsen

There are a few local brands of lager such as Bomonti, Marmara 34 and Efes Pilsen and a small selection of international beers that are produced in Turkey such as Skol, Beck's, Miller, Foster's, Carlsberg and Tuborg. In Turkey, craft beers became popular in present-day; Gara Guzu, Feliz Kulpa, Pablo and Graf are some Turkish craft beer brands

Wine-producing regions in Turkey

There are a variety of local wines produced by Turkish brands such as Sevilen, Kavaklıdere, Doluca, Corvus, Kayra, Pamukkale and Diren which are getting more popular with the change of climatic conditions that affect the production of wine. A range of grape varieties are grown in Turkey. For the production of red wine, the following types of grapes are mainly used; in the Marmara Region, Pinot noir, Adakarası, Papazkarası, Semillion, Kuntra, Gamay, Cinsault; in the Aegean Region, Carignane, Çalkarası, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Alicante Bouschet; in the Black Sea Region and the eastern part of the country, Öküzgözü, Boğazkere; in Central Anatolia, Kalecik Karası, Papazkarası, Dimrit; in the Mediterranean Region, Sergi Karası, Dimrit. As for white wine, the grapes can be listed as follows; in the Marmara Region, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillion, Beylerce, Yapıncak; in the Aegean Region, muscat and semillion; in the Black Sea Region, Narince; in Central Anatolia, Emir, Goat Cheese. In addition to mass production, it is quite popular to produce wines in private farms and sell them in the locality. Visitors can find different "home made" wines in Central Anatolia (Kapadokya/Cappadocia region – Nevşehir), the Aegean coast (Selçuk and Bozcaada (an island in the Aegean Sea)).

Non-alcoholic beverages

Turkish tea
Turkish coffee

At breakfast and all day long Turkish people drink black tea (çay). Tea is made with two teapots in Turkey. Strong bitter tea made in the upper pot is diluted by adding boiling water from the lower. Turkish coffee (kahve) is usually served after meals or with dessert.

Ayran (yogurt drink) is the most common cold beverage, which may accompany almost all dishes in Turkey, except those with fish and other seafood. It is a mix of yogurt and water, similar to lassi. It may be served with salt, according to taste.

Şalgam suyu (mild or spicy fermented black carrot juice) is another important non-alcoholic beverage that is usually combined with kebabs or served together with rakı.

Boza is a traditional winter drink, which is also known as millet wine (served cold with cinnamon and sometimes with leblebi).

Sahlep is another favorite in winter (served hot with cinnamon). Sahlep is extracted from the roots of wild orchids and may be used in Turkish ice cream as well. This was a popular drink in western Europe before coffee was brought from Africa and came to be widely known.

Limonata (lemonade) is very popular. It is traditionally served with baklava and other sweets. Sometimes lemonade is served with strawberry flavoring. This is called çilekli limonata.

Sherbet (Turkish şerbet, pronounced [ʃeɾˈbet]) is a syrup which can be made from any of a wide variety of ingredients, especially fruits, flowers, or herbs. Examples include pears, quinces, strawberries, apples, cornelian cherry, pomegranates, oranges, rose petals, rose hips, or licorice and spices. Sherbet is drunk diluted with cold water.

In classical Turkish cuisine, hoşaf (from the Persian "Khosh-ab", meaning "fresh water") alternatively accompanies meat dishes and pilav (pilaf).

Related cuisines

See also


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