Kuru Fasulye is a real winter comfort food. Made from dried white beans, onion, tomato, tomato paste and olive oil, it’s a kind of stew, great for warming you up in the cold winter months. You can add chunks of meat if you wish, lamb or beef usually. We love to eat it with fresh, crusty bread to mop it up, but it’s commonly served along side a dish of rice too! It’s one of the most popular dishes in Turkey, and you can buy it in lokantas, although there’s something really satisfying about making your own, if you have the time! Click HERE to read a recipe for this dish.
Kol böreği is a dish made with puff pastry, rolled up into long pieces – hence the ‘kol’ (arm) in the name. It’s quite soft and a little greasy but so good. The fillings vary – potato, cheese, mincemeat etc. My favourite are the potato or mincemeat ones. We used to eat these for breakfast/brunch in Fethiye sometimes, with a glass of tea, my tummy is rumbling just thinking about it!
Turkish rice, the kind with the little brown bits in, is my favourite. It’s buttery, soft fluffy and a staple part of Turkish cuisine – a great side dish to any meal. It’s even a meal on its own with chick peas or beans. The little brown bits are şehriye ( you might know it as Orzo – a small kind of pasta) and it adds a little something to the flavour and texture. It can be cooked with oil or butter, or even a bit of both. Berkay has taught me to add chicken stock too to enhance the flavour even more!
It’s hard to master, but he’s given me a tried and tested fool-proof recipe which you can find on my blog HERE.
One of my favourite, quick, simple and most importantly – cheap, lunchtime snacks in Turkey is tost. Not to be confused with British toast, the type served with butter and jam, Turkish tost is a Turkish bread sliced down the middle, stuffed with delicious fillings, cooked in a heavy iron press and served with a side of spicy, hot pickles. Yum.
The most popular is a mixed tost, or “karışık tost” in Turkish, which is a toastie with cheese, sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage) and usually tomato too. My favourite is just a plain, simple cheese and tomato one. In Berkay’s village we had one with scrambled egg, sucuk and cheese in – some people put salca (tomato puree) and mayonnaise in too.
The only downside to how delicious they are, is how unhealthy they are, it’s a bit of a carb overload, eating half a small loaf of bread in one sitting, and the bread is usually covered in butter on the outside too so it can be rather greasy. Delightful though!
Keşkek is a very traditional part of Turkish weddings and they take great pride in cooking it. It’s a weird food, served at special occasions, weddings, funerals, religious celebrations etc. A lot of people are involved in the preparing and cooking. It’s made from wheat, locally produced from the villages in most cases, and ground meat, and is lovingly and slowly cooked in these huge cauldrons. It’s a hard job to mix it with the huge wooden spoon as it is so thick, it’s definitely a good arm workout! It’s reminds me of porridge… but porridge mixed with ground meat, butter, and lots of oil… once it’s ready it’s slopped in a bowl and covered in spicy pepper sauce. It certainly doesn’t look, or sound very appealing but it doesn’t taste as bad as you think and it’s a good, hearty food that definitely feels like it’s been lovingly homemade by your grandma!
Baklava is a sweet dessert, made from layers of filo pastry and melted butter, and layers of nuts (pistachio or walnut). It’s cut into rectangle, diamond or triangle shapes then baked. Once baked, a syrup is poured over, making it sticky and sweet. The thin, crispy filo pastry is softened by the syrup as it penetrates through every layer. It’s often served with ice cream or cream and sometimes has more pistachio nuts finely ground on top.
So naughty, but so nice!!
Lahmacun is a very thin round flatbread. The dough is rolled thin and topped with a minced meat mixture – lamb or beef mixed with very finely chopped tomatoes, onions, parsley and spices.
It’s served with salad and lemon. You squeeze the lemon on to the Lahmacun, put some salad on it then roll it up and eat it! So delicious, and because it’s so thin it’s not too unhealthy!
Ok, so not really a dish, but I thought it was interesting to write about. There’s an assumption that chips are only served with breakfast in holiday resorts in Turkey to please tourists, but that’s not true! Berkay’s family often serve up chips for breakfast, but usually cold, either leftovers from the night before, or freshly cooked. They even have them smothered in garlic yogurt with grilled peppers. Above is a photo of a breakfast we had in the village – boiled eggs, tomatoes, grilled peppers, chips, olives, sucuk and aubergine!
Çay is probably the most popular drink in Turkey. It is strong, fragrant black tea, grown in the black sea region. It’s brewed in a special teapot, called a çaydanlık, and you can get really beautiful decorative ones! The tea is served in small tulip shaped glasses, usually a cube or spoon of sugar is added.. It is drunk literally everywhere, in all seasons and at all times of day but especially at breakfast – it’s just not breakfast without a glass of tea! When visiting the village, I am served tea all day long, and it’s considered rude to refuse. By the end of my visit I’m pretty sure I have tea flowing through my veins!
When I first moved to Turkey I didn’t like çay at all, but there’s only so many times you can politely drink something you dislike before actually growing to love it. I absolutely love it now and we often drink it at home here in London, although it just does not taste the same here!
Apple tea has become associated with Turkey too, but it’s mostly a tourist thing, very few Turkish people actually drink this.
Kuzu şiş (lamb shish) is a simple kebab dish, but delicious. Marinated cubes of lamb on skewers, cooked perfectly and served with special flat bread (which is hiding some of the meat in my photo above), rice, grilled peppers, onions and tomatoes, and raw onion salad with sumac sprinkled on top. Perfect when the meat is tender! My photo above was taken at Mozaik Bahçe in Fethiye, their presentation is especially impressive.
I always feel like ordering lamb or chicken shish kebab is so boring when eating out, but it’s so tasty I can never resist!