Every time I reminisce about my trip to Turkey, I never fail to rave about Turkish food. The experience was made even better with the stay in my friend’s home. The Turks are certainly one of the most hospitable people that I have met.
It was also a wonderful thing that my hostel was close to lots of local eateries. These places serve wonderful food at a reasonable price. I never considered myself a gourmet traveler but I certainly have a big appetite for hearty and excellent food.
The first photo is one of a dürüm döner , it is one of the ways you can have a döner. This wrap is made by assembling slices of döner, tomatoes, onions and other fillings into a lavash, an unleavened flatbread. This is a common street food that you could see anywhere in Istanbul. This is also affordable with a cost of less than ten Turkish liras ( I can’t remember the exact price unfortunately).
The second one is stall selling balık-ekmek which translates to “fish in bread”. This is my favorite lunch in Istanbul. I just adore it and have nothing but praise for this simple but delicious sandwich. My go-to-places for balık-ekmek are stalls near Karakoy port. They grill the fish and vegetables in front of you, after five minutes you get your fill of hot, fresh balık-ekmek. The sandwich usually consists of grilled fish fillet, lightly seasoned and vegetables such as onions, lettuce ( this varies in each stall). Another wonderful thing, it costs just about 5 TL! A filling but inexpensive meal.
I was being cautious of eating seafood at first because of the food poisoning I had weeks ago in Bolivia but I never got sick even after eating so much of this sandwiches. I absolutely loved this.
Döner kebab is meat slow-cooked on a vertical rotisserie, then sliced vertically into small thin, crisp slices. There are a number of ways how it is served. It can be served as a wrap, sandwich and a topping on rice. I like the sandwich version as it is very filling.
Another version of döner kebab is İskender kebap. It is made of thinly cut grilled lamb basted with tomato sauce and slathered with melted sheep butter and yogurt. It is served with pita bread on top and green salad as a side. If you are not a big eater, it is best to share as this dish is very filling. I loved the taste of smoky meat and how all components of the dish just blends together.
Buying ice cream is fun in Turkey! I have not had a chance to buy one but I’ve witnessed how cool it is. When you buy the ice cream, the vendor will do the tricks before handing it out to you. It may seem like that they’re giving you the ice cream but they will pull it back. My friend shared a humorous albeit dark story wherein a costumer pulled out a gun and threatened the vendor to give his ice cream. Ice cream is beautiful experience that should not be smeared with violence. Every one should just chill and enjoy the experience.
I have mentioned before that I stayed with my friend’s family for a week. I will never forget this wonderful experience and her family’s hospitality. Every morning, we have this delicious spread for breakfast. Turkish breakfast will certainly make you a morning person! Turkish breakfast or kahvaltı consists of bread, butter, jam and/or honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, yogurt, and eggs. Tea or coffee are often served during or at the end of the meal.
Her family’s hospitality and her mother’s wonderful cooking do not end in breakfast. Every time we come home, we are always greeted with a sumptuous dinner. She told me that her mom wants me to experience Turkish cuisine (which was so sweet). I’m very thankful to have experienced my first memories of Turkey with these lovely people.
Sarmas are stuffed grape leaves which are eaten as appetizers or as main dishes. The grape leaves are soaked in brine to make them soft then it is filled with ground meat, rice and other ingredients depending on the recipe. My friend’s mom makes great sarmas! I always end up finishing a lot.
Börek is a versatile dish that is eaten any time of the day. They are filled pastries made of filo dough and fillings such as feta cheese. My favorite is the classic spinach and feta börek.
Another staple is the Köfte, the Turkish take on meatballs. They are incredibly tasty and comes in many varieties.
İçli Köfte is a fried meat ball with bulgur coating. A mix of fine bulgur, potato and spices are used as the shell while the filling consists of ground meat, nuts and spices. The balls are then fried until its golden-brown.
Manti, also dubbed as Turkish ravioli consist of dough filled out with ground meat, either lamb or beef, onions and spices. It is then boiled/baked and served topped with crushed garlic, yogurt sauce and sprinkled with sumac.
Muhallebi is a creamy, milk pudding. My favorite topping combination is that of pistachios and cinnamon.
Where do I even begin with baklavas? I love them. I absolutely adore them. I’m obsessed with baklavas.
I ate them every day during my two week stay there. Even my Turkish friends do not understand my obsession with them and how I was able to consume more than five at one seating. I don’t know why I like them so much, they are just too good. For me, Karakoy Gulluoglu is the best place to get them. The baklavas here are not so sweet yet they are addictive.
Baklava is made of layers of filo pastry filled with pistachios, walnuts and almonds. It is soaked and held together with a syrup which may include honey, or rosewater. The preparation looks complex as it needs elaborate care when it comes to assembling the layers. When I left Turkey, I felt that I had a baklava withdrawal. I just missed them too much and every time I buy baklava in other European countries, it isn’t just the same.
Künefe is a classic Turkish dessert. I actually had a hard time looking for it in Istanbul. This dessert is made of layers of wiry shreds of kadayif and cheese then topped with ground pistachios. It is best eaten when it’s fresh out of the oven as the cheese is soft and stringy.
Simit is similar to a bagel though it is more crispy. It is best eaten when hot. There lots of vendors who sell it near tourist attractions hence it is a good snack before you start your tour.
I will end this post by saying that I miss baklavas terribly and writing this just made me yearn for it more. It is absolutely mad if you left Turkey without having at least one baklava!