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Istanbul Cuisine

Turkish CuisineIt's worth travelling to ─░stanbul just to eat. Good Turkish cuisine is the very heart and soul of eastern Mediterranean cooking, which demands quality ingredients and careful preparation. From delicious mezes to elaborate vegetarian and seafood dishes, ─░stanbul caters across budgets and tastes.

It can simply be categorized as;
Cold appetizers(Meze)
Hot appetizers(Ara sicak)
Main Course(Ana yemek)
Vegetables cooked in olive oil(Zeytinyagli)
Fruit Mix(meyve)
Soft Drinks

Soups: To begin with, soups do come first. They are very important in Turkish Cuisine. The soups are usually made of chicken juice by adding different things,i.e tomatoes,lentil,rice,yoghurt, eggs and flour. The most famous soups of traditional Ottoman Cuisine are Dugun Corbasi(Wedding Day Soup), Iskembe Corbasi(Tripe Soup eaten with garlic juice and vinegar), Mercimek Corbasi(Red Lentil Soup) and Yayla Corbasi(Yoghurt and rice with dried mint). If the soups do not contain chicken or meat juice, they are deemed to be 'tasteless'...
Meze platter

Cold Appetizers: The cold appetizers are another unique part of the Turkish Cuisine. A good 'Meze Tabagi'(Meze Platter) usually contains Dolma(stuffed green pepper,tomatoes or leaves with rice and pinenuts), Beyaz Peynir(Turkish White Cottage Cow's Cheese), Barbunya(Red Beans cooked in olive oil), Humus(made of chickpeas), Cerkez Tavugu(Circassian Chicken, little chicken-breast pieces mixed with walnut, bread and spices), Haydari(very thick yoghurt mixed with garlic and mint), Ezme(red chilly pepper,tomato paste,mint and spices)and finally Yesil ve Siyah Zeytin(Green and Black Olives).

Hot Appetizers: The hot starters are usually pastries which are called as Boerek. Boereks are of various types; i.e pastry which is made of different, thin dough layers stuffed with ground meat or cheese,cooked in oven or pastry made of two thin dough layers with cheese or ground meat inside, fried in sunflower oil. Su BorekWith boreks, potato or cheese croquettes may be served. The most famous type of borek is called Su Boerek(Thin dough layers shock-boiled in water). Other hot appetizers are Patlican Kizartma (fried eggplants), Kabak Kizartma (fried zucchinis) and fried mussles or calamares.

Turkish KebapMain Courses: The main courses usually include meat, mainly lamb and veal. Sometimes chicken is used for some recipies. The meat is accompanied with eggplants, zucchini or potatoes,either smashed or french-fried. The most famous main course is called Doner Kebab(similar to Gyro) and second famous is Shis-Kebab(small pieces of lamb or veal grilled). Other famous main courses are Hunkar Begendi(lamb served on eggplant pure├ę), Islim Kebab(lamb served in sliced eggplant), or Tandir(very soft lamb grilled) and Manti(Turkish Style Ravioli with garlic yoghurt and red-pepper butter sauce). With them, Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt) may be served..

Vegetables cooked in olive oil: Turkey is one of the biggest olive and olive oil producers of the world. Therefore, food cooked in olive oil is an indispensible part of our cuisine. The main olive oil dishes are Zeytinyagli Yesil Fasulye(String Beans in Olive Oil), Imam Bayildi(eggplant cut in from the middle, stuffed with onion and green pepper, served cold), Zeytinyagli Kuru Fasulye(Beans in olive oil), Zeytinyagli Enginar(Artichoke cooked with pieces of potatoes,carrots and peas).

Desserts:The desserts can be roughly divided into three,desserts made of milk, desserts made of pastry+syrups, desserts made of fruits and nuts...

Turkish DessertsMilky Desserts: The famous ones are Tavukgogsu(freshly cooked chicken breast into tiny pieces,mixed with pudding with rice flour,eggs and vanilla), Kazandibi(same dessert,put into oven,the bottom gets red and delicious), Keskul(milk,flour,rice flour, almonds, pistachio,eggs,vanilla).

Desserts with pastry and syrup: The famous ones are Baklava(very thin layers of buttered pastry filled with pistachio or walnuts,at least 20 layers),baked first in the oven, then cold syrup is added), Kadayif(pastry resembling human hair,put into the tray,added butter and walnut,cooked like baklava), Kunefe is a southeastern(Antakya) specialty, instead of walnuts, special Antakya cheese is put inside), Sekerpare(Piece of sugar) (is baked in the oven as a round cookie,nut is put on the top, and syrup is added.)

Desserts with fruit and nuts: The most famous one of this type is Asure which is a sacred desert. It's believed that after the disasterous storm in Mt.Agri of Turkey, the people in Noah's Ark, had to cook a strange food to survive by adding everything aboard, dried figs,apricots, raisins, walnut, chickpeas, white beans, rice, wheat and sugar. It's cooked still the same way by putting cinnamon on the top.Boza The others are Ayva Tatlisi(Quince Dessert), quince boiled with sugar, after color turns to be red, syrup and cream is put on the top), Incir Tatlisi(Fig Dessert), dried figs are boiled in syrup,with cream and walnut toppings.

Soft Drinks: Major soft beverages are Ayran(Yoghurt mixed with water and salt added), Boza(winter drink,made of fermented bulgur wheat, thick as pudding,drunk with cinnamon), Salep(winter drink made of Salep powder and hot milk, cinnamon added), Salgam Suyu (Sugar beet juice), Elma Cayi(Apple tea), Ihlamur(Linden tea) and Turk Kahvesi(Turkish Coffee).

Turkish Raki and MezesFish Restaurants: If Turkey is surrounded by three seas and Istanbul is on the shore of Sea of Marmara, how about the fish restaurants? Fish restaurants are of a special style,once you go to have fish, you sit at the table for 1-2 hours and enjoy your meal very slowly by sipping your Raki. Raki contains 45% alcohol, it is quite strong. 1/3 of a typical raki glass is filled with raki, the rest is complemented with cold water,added ice if desired. The water-like liquid; when water is added, suddenly turns out white,a milk-like thing. It's often called "The Lion's Milk" by the Turkish. Raki is made of grapes and it's a non-fermented drink. It should be drunk very slowly with food, therefore the culture in the fish restaurants has developed...

In the fish restaurants, the food comes as if eating is a ritual, not an easy and quick thing. Cold appetizers, like white cheese, melon, beans in olive oil or shrimp do come first. After having some from each of them and starting sipping your "raki", comes the hot appetizers, like boreks or fish balls with a big bowl of fresh seasonal salad. Finally while you are enjoying the appetizers, your fish gets ready and you enjoy the most delicious part of your ritual. Finally you enjoy a light dessert or fresh fruits before putting an end to this pleasure. You waive you hand to the chief waiter who knows you for long years and go back home happily and relaxed...