Must Try Turkish Delights

I’ll clarify that this is not about literal Turkish delights. They have those in Turkey of course. And they were…okay. But not my favorite, and they don’t really deserve mention in this post. This is just about delightful Turkish Food. Oh my god Turkish Food!

It’s so good. With SOOOO much oil. We discovered a lot of these on the food tour, but other ones on our own…and pretty much all of these came from Istanbul {both the European and Asian side} and Cappadocia {mmmmm Testi} though they can probably be found across Turkey.

Meze – this is basically Turkish appetizers. Generally come on a platter with a wide variety of things not limited to {in layman’s terms} hummus, eggplant salad, yogurt & herb dip, stuffed grape leaves, carrot slaw, “raw” meatballs {tomato paste & bulgur} and deep fried little anchovie-like fish…maybe it’s mackeral?IMG_2516 IMG_2195

Pied – like pizza, without tomato sauce. A favorite of E’s obviously.


Meze with stuffed mussel

Mussels aka Midye Dolmasi – I forgot to grab a picture of this but found one online. These are stuffed mussels with rice, currants, pine nuts, and cinnamon and nutmeg. SO GOOD.Midye-stall

Meze with a stuffed mussel on the side.

Meze with a stuffed mussel on the side.

Lahmucan – This is like a Turkish flatbread with crumbled meat on top. Lighter than {and I think preferable to} pied.

Ayran – a foaming, cold, frothy, salty, yogurt drink. I found it especially tasty…E not so much.

Mmmm, frothy yogurt on a hot day.

Mmmm, frothy yogurt on a hot day.

Tatuni – A spicy, tasty, greasy little beef wrap.

Tatuni and Ayran

Tatuni and Ayran


Menemen – Breakfast of the gods. Eggs not quite cooked, lots of butter or oil, diced peppers and tomatos.IMG_2607

Kokorec – I had it served from kebab {or doner} form. It is sheep intestines, stuffed with sweet breads and other too gross to talk about bits. Shaved off the kebab and put on some bread and heavily seasoned with pepper and oregano. This dish and Turkey’s refusal to stop serving it is actually one of the reasons they aren’t allowed to be in the EU.IMG_2207

Dondurma – Turkish Ice cream. Two kinds: one thick and sticky made with something called salep to create this texture which makes it kind of impossible to melt. The other Kesme dondurma you eat with a fork and knife. I’d take either on a hot day.

Dried fruit & nuts – Self explanatory. But so many great dried fruits and nuts that are local. The shops featuring these…to die for. You could even get sweet dried bell peppers…if they grow it, they dry it…and it’s amazing.IMG_2611

Baklava – Get it at Karakoy Gullluoglu and unfortunately, never be satisfied with Baklava again.

Testi – The Turkish word for “clay pot”. A slow cooked stew {with either lamb, beef, or chicken} in a clay pot. I got to crack the pot open upon arrival.

cracking open the clay pot

cracking open the clay pot


Raki – every culture has one. The national alcoholic beverage of Turkey. Unsweetened, anise-flavored lighter fluid.IMG_2597

Kunefe or kanafeh – This one is going to sound weird, I was beyond skeptical but I am salivating thinking about it now: a rich, sweet and savory cheese dessert. I’ll borrow this explaination from

Kunefe is made from a stretchy, unsalted fresh melting cheese called hatay found only in this region—mozzarella would be the closest Western analogue. The cheese is coated in sugar syrup-soaked phyllo shreds called kadayıf (the same ones used to make some varieties of baklava, as described above), and fried until crisp. Its appeal is the contrasting textures of the crunchy exterior against the soft, melty interior. It can be topped with pistachios,kaymak (clotted cream) or ice cream—or simply eaten on its own, preferably while still piping hot.IMG_2208

Ekmek Kadayifi – Online it’s compared to a bread pudding, which I guess is kind of accurate When you fork into it, it gushes syrup and comes with a healthy topping of Kaymak. Wait, what’s kaymak…

I saved the best for last….I mostly had this for breakfast on bread with honey, but it’s also amazing on Turkish desserts.

Kaymak – The US has cool whip, the UK has clotted cream, and no one has anything on Kaymak. I can’t explain what makes it so good…I can just say if I was still living in Chicago I’d have a weekly pick up of Kaymak {and weight 200 more pounds.}

And can I just say, the Turks do breakfast right.  Besides menemen and kaymak on bread, they do loads of fresh veggies {cucumbers, tomatoes}, olives, and even more kinds of cheese.  IMG_2477

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