If you are planning a vacation in Istanbul, be sure to factor these foods into your trip.


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Turkish cuisine is very much alive and flourishing in Istanbul and although this country is known for its delicious street food, it should also be known for its more traditional dishes. No trip to another country is complete without a trip around its most popular flavors, and Istanbul is the perfect place to explore the foods that have inspired its culture for generations. Each dish is more diverse than the last, with spices specific to the region and local ingredients.

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The food that travelers will find in Istanbul is rich in both flavor and history. From take-out snacks to slow-eating meals to savor with every bite, there’s something for everyone. These iconic foods have gained a reputation for a reason and if the urge to travel draws you to this amazing country, then these foods should satisfy your breakfast, lunch and dinner cravings.

Lahmacun

Contrary to popular belief, this dish is do not turkish pizza or anything close to it. While many people think it looks like a traditional pizza because of its garnish, which is seasoned ground beef, it is entirely a Turkish creation that is not inspired by Italy.


Lahmacun

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Once the seasoned meat has been placed on the thin and slightly crispy round of pastry, a squeeze of lemon and a little parsley are usually sufficient to add the final touch. It’s simple, yet delicious and satisfying.

Doner

Those who have been fortunate enough to visit Turkey can probably attest to the fact that these vertical pins can be found all over the place, in many popular restaurants. The meat that is extracted from it, called a doner, can be served in a variety of ways.


Doner meat on a vertical spit

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Dürüm is a döner that has been wrapped in lava bread and is the simplest of the döner dishes. Iskender kebap is a doner that has been stacked on pide bread, with a healthy garnish of yogurt, butter, and tomato sauce to create a hearty lunch or dinner.

Meze

One of the most delicious ways to eat in Istanbul is to order meze. Meze just means ‘appetizers’ and these come in small plates perfect for sharing. These are served in the same way as one would order tapas in a Spanish restaurant.


a variety of turkish meze

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Depending on the restaurant, the meze can include just about anything from eggplant dips to fava. One of the most popular dips is muhammara, which is made by grinding red pepper into a paste and adding lemon juice, nuts, and a drizzle of sweet pomegranate molasses.

Kebab

The main thing newcomers to Turkey should know about kebap is that it encompasses all types of meat, from lamb to beef. What changes in each kebap is the level of aroma and spice of each; depending on the meat used, the spices may also vary.


kebap on the grill

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Many times the kebap will be wrapped in lava bread before being topped with tomato sauce and yogurt, or it will simply be served on a skewer. The appearance of each kebap can also vary, with some meat mixes being hand kneaded with spices while others are cubed before grilling.

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Balık Ekmek

When it comes to the simpler street food, balık ekmek is a local and tourist favorite. This simple sandwich is served with equally simple, yet deliciously fresh ingredients: grilled fish, onions and a light salad mix.


a tourist holding a drink and eating Balık Ekmek

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The sandwich is easy to find from vendors or lunch spots, and it’s a favorite across the country.

Pide

Pide is a rich meal that consists of pretty much anything you can put in it. The dish begins with a dough that is kneaded into the shape of a boat, before being filled with all kinds of fillings, from meat to cheese and even vegetables.


a trio of three types of pide

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Travelers can find these great lunch and dinner meals filled with spinach, spicy sausage, eggs, and even veal. They fill up perfectly on their own, but they’re also great for sharing with another person.

Kuzu Tandir

The tenderest meat you’ll find in Istanbul is found in a dish called kuzu tandır. At one point, the lamb used in this dish was said to have been cooked in an underground clay oven. Nowadays, it is still cooked slowly and slowly in order to get that tender, ramshackle meat that makes the dish so good.


Kuzu Tandır, tandoori lamb served on quinoa

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It is served on a grain or starch with a mixture of nuts, currants and diced liver. The flavors blend together to create something quite unique and the scent of meat and rice is mouth watering.

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