Turkish Cuisine: A Delectable Experience

29 comments
Europe, Turkey
Turkish Regional Casserole

Turkish Regional Casserole

Bold, savory, refreshing, mouth-watering, amusingly foreign. Turkey has some of the most interesting dishes that I have ever tried by far. During my stay in the Turkish largest city I had the chance to tickle my palate by tasting local dishes made from fresh and exotic spices from all over the world, thanks to its historic significance as a main entrepôt. 

However if I got the chance to go back to Istanbul but only had one day I would not want to miss the following delicacies:

Shish Kebab, Derman, the Grand Bazaar

Their lamb and chicken shish kebabs are arguably the best in town. We found this modest food stall after asking one of the shop owners inside the Grand Bazaar. “I always go there because it’s finger-licking good!” claimed the mid-aged antique shop owner.

He did not lie.

As this is a small restaurant, it would be better to go here about fifteen minutes before lunchtime to secure a seat. They will first serve chopped pickled red cabbages before the main course. Eat like a local: sprinkle some more salt if you like, although I chose to add no more salt since it was already quite salty and sour. Then roll the shish kebab inside your bread and let the tenderness melt in your mouth. See if you crave for more.

Döner Kebab, a small restaurant across Tarihi Asmalı Simit Fırını, Salma Tomruk Caddesi, Edinerkapı

Döner kebab is in abundance in Istanbul, but many of them taste rather bland. Learning from our experience with Derman we knew we had to find a place off the touristy areas. It was a fortuitous moment when we found this small kebab house near the Chora Church on a chill day in the city. Initially we only wanted to seek refuge from the cold weather and had lunch. It turned out we had probably the best and most mouth-watering döner kebab that we had ever tasted in Istanbul.

The owner knows no English, so a little knowledge in saying numbers in Turkish would definitely help.

Sütaş Ayran, everywhere

Ayran is the preferred drink for Istanbulites after having their meals. Its sour and salty taste helps tone down the rich and heavy flavors of kebabs, pide, lahmacun, and other delectable Turkish cuisines. Each ayran tastes slightly different from the others, but my favorite was the one made by Sütaş. Its perfect consistency and the considerate amount of added salt added is refreshing and not overpowering, even for those who are not keen on this beverage.

Despite having tried a multitude of Turkish dishes during my 8-day stay in Istanbul, there are still lots of succulent dishes that need to wait for my next visit to the city, one day.

Pide

Pide

Roast Chicken

Roast Chicken

Turkish Fried Rice

Turkish Fried Rice

İmam bayıldı, literally the Imam (Muslim Priest) Fainted

İmam bayıldı, literally the Imam (Muslim Priest) Fainted

Sautéed Mushrooms

Sautéed Mushrooms

Red Bean Soup

Red Bean Soup

Tavuklu Pilav, Rice with Shredded Chicken and Beans

Tavuklu Pilav, Rice with Shredded Chicken and Beans

Lahmacun

Lahmacun

The Best Mutton Shish Kebab in Town at Derman, the Grand Bazaar

The Best Mutton Shish Kebab in Town at Derman, the Grand Bazaar

Turkish Coffee

Turkish Coffee

Turkish Tea

Turkish Tea

Ayran, A Thinner Version of Yogurt with Added Salt

Ayran, A Thinner Version of Yogurt with Added Salt

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

29 thoughts on “Turkish Cuisine: A Delectable Experience”

    • Oh really? Being a Filipino have you ever had balut? I have and honestly that’s one of the most bizarre ‘delicacies’ I’ve ever tried, so far. 🙂

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      • Oh I only tried one and I think that was chicken. When I looked at other people enjoying the food I thought to myself “Come on Bama, everyone eats it”. 🙂

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  1. All of this food looks very inviting to try! The food of some cultures is quite unappetizing (even inedible) for me, but these dishes all look tasty and loaded with beans, rice, and other vegetables. Mmmmm!

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    • I totally agree with you, Marilyn! I myself always try local food every time I travel. But sometimes I found some food too strange for my palate. But I think you’ll like Turkish food, or at least you won’t hate it. 🙂

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  2. I am wondering if you eat them all or you just photograph them 🙂 I would love to try out the casserole, pide, kebab, coffee and tea.

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    • Actually I did eat all of them, despite the fact that some of them were not the ones that I ordered. 🙂

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  3. One thing I found, you can’t go wrong with food in Turkey. Whether you eat in a small place in a little village or in a fine dining in a big city, food is always prepared traditionally and with passion using the best ingredients. You food photos area all delectable. I agree with you. It’s worth going back to Istanbul to eat at your favorite spots.

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    • Hi Marisol! You’re right about Turkish food. However I do suggest to avoid touristy places, not only because they’re usually overpriced but also less ‘authentic’ than the ones you find in restaurants or food stalls where locals dine. By the way I’m in Taiwan now and thinking of writing a post on Taiwanese dishes. 🙂

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  4. CAn almost taste them Bama! Lahmacun and the Fistikli (pistachio stuffed) Kebabs were my favourites. And the Khadaifi and Baklava!! You obviously don’t have a sweet tooth….lucky you 🙂

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    • Oh I actually tried Baklava and I loved it!!! 🙂 I guess the reason why I forgot to take any picture of Baklava was simply because I enjoyed it so much! Such a guilty pleasure indeed. 🙂

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  5. I looovveee Turkish food. Legitimately, came back with bags of spices from there last time just so I could attempt to recreate some of the amazing dishes I had. Very underestimated cuisine if you ask me…

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    • True! Most people only know about Kebab whereas there are so many other dishes too good to miss. I won’t be surprised if one day I see Turkish restaurant chains in many places around the world. Btw I believe you created some amazing dishes with those spices you bought. You can’t go wrong with them. 🙂

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    • There are still a lot of Turkish food that I have yet to try. But yes you’re right, it has some of the best cuisines ever.

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  6. juliamkh says:

    This beautifully captures some of the best highlights of Turkish cuisine!

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    • Thanks Julia! There were times when my mind wandered to the moment I tried that delicious shish kebab. 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Sasak Dishes: A Twist in Taste | What an Amazing World!

  8. whoa, you got great pictures! As a Turkish, really happy to see that you loved Istanbul. Hope, you can come back again 🙂 thanks for sharing!

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    • As a city filled with history spanning for millennia, I can’t see why I wouldn’t fall in love with Istanbul. 🙂 Thank you and I do hope to come back in the future.

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  9. The food looks amazing! I am hungry! You have presented this post beautifully…. I could get the taste of Turkish food in my mouth. 🙂

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    • Thanks Renuka, and sorry for making you hungry! 🙂 I tasted the best kebabs in Istanbul and I would love to go back in a heartbeat.

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    • It never came across my mind that Istanbul could be quite a friendly city to vegetarians. That’s good to know.

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