Traditional Flavors

Turkish cuisine maintains a place of great importance among the cuisines of the world. Indeed, the fame of Turkish dishes, whose flavors are unparalleled, is known throughout the world.

09/04/2014

To visit Istanbul without eating döner is unthinkable! 
Döner, which has been a crucial part of Turkish cuisine since the second half of the 19th century, is a type of kebab prepared with lamb, which is turned and roasted on a spit over a coal fire. In addition to red meat, döner made with sausage and chicken is also widely consumed.

While different types of döner are typically served on a plate over rice, döner is also sold with pide (long bread) and as dürüm (wrap). The most famous dish of döner is probably the İskender Kebab, in which döner is combined with a tomato sauce and butter, and served with yoghurt.

Eating fish on the Bosphorus is superb!
 Turkey’s sophisticated culinary culture involving fish stems from the fact that the country is surrounded by seas on three sides. The Bosphorus is a popular fishing ground in Turkey, where many different species of fish with substantially different flavors are caught. For this reason, the area of Istanbul that is most associated with seafood is Boğaziçi. You can sample both seasonal fish and seafood mezes at any restaurants that are found all along the Bosphorus, on both the European and the Asian Side.

Istanbul: A meyhane paradise 


Meyhanes are unique locations. Alcohol is drunk, and special mezes are eaten with rakı. Deep conversations take place, troubles are cast away, and the music starts up and the dance begins. Meyhanes are indispensable locations for conversations among friends.

The history of meyhane culture among Turks stretches back to the 15th century. In those times, this culture was prevalent in neighborhoods of Galata, Tahtakale, Ortaköy, Tarabya, Kumkapı, Balık Pazarı, Kadıköy, Yeniköy and Çengelköy, which were inhabited by non-Muslim communities. In the area near the Galata Tower alone, there were hundreds of meyhanes. 

The king of the table: Rakı

Rakı, an alcoholic beverage with a history not as old as that of wine or beer, was first produced by the Ottomans. Because rakı was known as “lion’s milk”, it was served in containers decorated with embossed figures of lions. In fact, the color of rakı does indeed resemble milk. Rakı is produced from the razaki grape, and, in the past, was known by such names as “araka” 
and “araki”.

First, water is added to both dry and fresh grapes. After the mixture becomes must (unfermented grape juice), the process of fermentation begins. Later, after this mixture is distilled, its extraction becomes a type of alcohol known as “suma” (in essence, rakı before it has been flavored with anise). Finally, after aniseed is added, the suma is fermented again, and turns into rakı.

Rakı must be drunk according to certain customs. Above all, rakı must be consumed slowly at a table set specifically for this purpose, adorned with different kinds of mezes, hot dishes, meats, and fruit. Rakı can either be drunk with water or dry, and ice may be added to it if so desired. 

The exquisite flavor of kebabs


Kebab is the name generally given to different types of meat that are roasted over a coal fire. Among the most common types of kebab are the spicy Adana kebab and the mild Urfa kebab, both of which are made out of mincemeat; and shish kebabs, made out of small pieces of veal or lamb. Kebabs are typically served with different types of vegetables, such as peanuts, tomatoes, and eggplant.

Kebabs are typically eaten at restaurants known as “grillrooms” (ocakbaşı), where one can sit around the coal fire and dine while watching the different stages of grilling that occur. Kebabs can also be eaten with various condiments as dürüm (wrap); it is even possible to eat on your feet at dürüm restaurants.

Lahmacun: Turkish fast food

Lahmacun is a dish particular to Turkey’s Southeastern cuisine. It is made from a mixture of onions, spices and mincemeat, which is spread over a thin layer of dough and cooked over a coal flame. Lahmacun can be either spicy or mild, there is a similar dish known “peymacun”, which is made with a mixture of cheese and parsley. It is often eaten as a wrap with condiments. Ayran (a salty yoghurt drink) is the most appropriate beverage.

Fruit syrup: A sweet voyage

Fruit syrup (şerbet), which is prepared by boiling fruits such as apricots, cherries, plums, and oranges together with sugar or honey, is a traditional Turkish drink that originated in Ottoman times. Fruit syrup was an essential part of both palace cuisine and home cooking during the Ottoman era. It was so popular then that one could easily find fresh types of fruit syrup, stored in glass containers, at candy shops every day.

Today, fruit syrup is typically drunk with a meal, and is often offered to guests. In particular, it is customary to offer fruit syrup when making visits to a family to propose a marriage engagement or after the birth of a child.

Narghile!

The term narghile (hookah, or water-pipe) comes from the Persian word nargil, which means coconut. Narghiles play an important part in many Eastern cultures, and first became a part of Turkish culture in the 16th century, during Ottoman times. The narghile is a crucial aspect of deep conversations in our own time. Narghile cafes are certainly prominent in many areas of Istanbul. Above all, a large number of narghile cafes are found in the neighborhoods of Tophane, Çemberlitaş, Beyoğlu and Kadıköy.

A narghile consists of several different parts: The marpuç (the section from which smoke is inhaled), the lüle (the bowl into which tobacco is placed), the tepsi (tray) and the rüzgârlık (a metal partition to prevent the tobacco ashes from blowing away). Additionally, a mouthpiece known as sipsi is attached to the tip of marpuç. A special type of oak coal is used to light the narghile, which gives it a unique, aromatic taste. Narghile tobacco goes by the special name of tömbeki. In addition to tömbeki, you might try one of the many different flavored tobaccos with your narghile. 

Simit: A sesame feast

Simit is one of the most traditional and common types of Turkish food. It is made from flour, formed in the shape of a ring and cooked in an oven, and is typically covered with a large quantity of sesame seeds. Simit is both inexpensive and flavorsome.

One can find fresh simit at every hour of the day in bakeries and shops that sell baked flour goods. You also might encounter simit merchants, with their glass-pane wagons, walking along the city’s bustling streets. In the past few years, several simit chain restaurants, which only sell different types of simit have become popular.

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