Turkish food goes way beyond the doner kebabs you find in a chippy in the UK. Turkish cuisine is a mouth-watering and varied journey that simply must be explored during your time in Turkey. The popular dishes and family favourites of today have developed over time, many with roots in Ottoman, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. A visit to a family home for dinner or local restaurant in Turkey will surprise you. For meat and veggie lovers alike, Turkish cuisine is a dream. Who would have thought you could do so much with a humble aubergine or tomato? Who would have guessed lamb simply cooked with a little seasoning could really taste that good? Well here’s our little tribute to Turkish food. Here’s Oceanwide Properties top 5 types of dishes everyone visiting Turkey needs to try and where to find them around Fethiye…
- Zeytin Yagli Dishes (Dishes cooked with Olive Oil) Wow! Who would have thought that vegetables, cooked with or without meat, in olive oil and seasoned with a few herbs and spices could be so tasty? Forgo the fancy restaurant and head to a traditional restaurant or lokanta around Fethiye, somewhere like Sahil near the big Migros, Limon H2O opposite the central PTT, Megri in the Old Town, Alabi opposite Esnaf or any near the Otogar (bus station). View the menu or spread of dishes at the counter and you are bound to find some zeytin yagli dishes there. Failing that, take a look at the recipes on our blog or ask a local how to rustle up some of these popular taste sensations. The most common are;
- Taze Fasulye (Fresh Green Beans) – a budget friendly dish made with fresh green beans, tomato paste/fresh tomatoes, onions, carrots and of course the obligatory olive oil (see our Taze Fasulye recipe)
- Yaprak Sarma (Stuffed Vine Leaves) – There are vegetarian and meat options but generally a mix of rice, onions, meat and spices wrapped up in vine leaves and cooked in olive oil
- Dolma (Stuffed Vegetables) – All sorts of vegetables are stuffed in Turkey. There are lots of recipe variations – both vegetarian and meaty (see our recipe for stuffed peppers Biber Dolmasi)
2. Turk Kahvalti (Turkish Breakfast). Forget cornflakes in Turkey. Instead partake in a Turkish breakfast – especially of a weekend when locals take the family out for a stroll and a lazy breakfast to set them up for the day. Most hotels, cafes and restaurants around Fethiye put on a decent Turkish breakfast in either a buffet or plate form. Of a weekend many locals tend to head for the Kordon opposite Oceanwide’s office on the seafront promenade. There are plenty of restaurants offering excellent buffets, places like Bogazici and Matisse are popular. Further afield Jazibe, Cin Bal, Izela and Levissi in Kayakoy, Mado in Fethiye’s Erasta AVM and Yalcin Yoruk Musesi in Kargi are just a few that spring to mind. So what is it? Think a fabulous fill me up brunch that will see you through to supper served up with Turkish tea, fresh juice or coffee. Eggs, tomatoes, yellow cheese, feta cheese, black and green olives, tomatoes, cucumber, fresh fruit, preserves, honey, borek (filled pastries) and salami or sliced meats served with hunks of fresh bread is the norm.
3. Kebap (Kebab). Foreigners often associate the basis of kebabs as a big block of lamb or chicken rotating for hours around a spit in a chip shop window. Let’s set you straight. In Turkey there are many types of kebab and this ‘doner’ version is simply one of them. Turkey knows how to do kebabs. In-fact there are around 40 different kinds if Google is to be believed with many regional variations. Most restaurants around Fethiye will serve up at least a couple kebab options. Around Fethiye, Kebap Time near Esnaf Hospital and Pasa Kebap on the one way system near Paspatur are office favourites. Lokantas also stock a good range and then of course there’s the many doner kebab stands found around the streets in town and in resorts. A few of the most popular kebabs in Turkey include;
Sis Kebap (Shish) – Tender, meaty chunks of marinated chicken or lamb threaded onto a skewer and grilled to perfection with or without vegetables depending on where you go;
- Cop Sis Kebap – Smaller cubes of marinated meat cooked on a skewer;
- Adana Kebap – A signature dish from Adana that has become popular throughout Turkey. A spicy mix of ground beef or beef/lamb mix seasoned with onion, paprika, red pepper flakes and various herbs and spices moulded around a special flat skewer then grilled.
- Urfa Kebap – Another regional dish from Urfa and the less spicy sister of the Adana kebab. Meat is mixed with cumin, garlic and herbs allowing for a far milder flavour;
- Doner Kebap – This is the one cooked on the rotating spit! Usually lamb, chicken or mixed meat slivers served with onions, salad and yogurt or chili sauce enclosed in lavas bread (wraps), pita pockets or normal half bread.
- Iskender Kebap – A popular kebab originating from Bursa and named after it’s creator Iskender Efendi. Thin strips of lamb or doner meat served over pita bread with a yogurt and butter sauce.
- Testi Kebap -Testi Kebap is an impressive dish. Normally tender chunks of lamb with vegetables and herbs cooked slowly in a special clay pot and served to a minimum of two diners. An Anatolian specialty, you normally find it under chefs specials at some restaurants and often have to order it in advance as it takes so long to cook and for the full flavours to develop. In some restaurants, especially the tourist areas like Oludeniz and Calis, they put on a big performance at the table when opening the pot. They present it flaming to the table with the waiter expertly cracking it open with a special hammer. Think slow cooked stew with a decidedly Turkish twist – very tasty!
4. Meze (Turkish Appetizers). Meze is an integral part of Turkish cuisine and the variety of choices on offer vary from restaurant to restaurant. Think Spanish tapas. Meze are best described as small dishes or tasters of varying foods either served in separate little dishes with fresh bread, or as a mixed platter or plate with little tasters heaped around. You would be hard pushed to find a Turkish restaurant around Fethiye that doesn’t sell a few mezes. Some local supermarkets also have pre-packed versions or meze bars where you select what you want to take home. There are many, many varieties on offer but our office favourites are;
- Hummus – cooked, mashed chickpeas with lemon, tahini and garlic in a spread or paste form;
- Acili Ezme – Spicy mix of tomatoes, peppers, chili, onions and herbs (see our Ezme recipe);
- Haydari – Thick yogurt and herb dip;
- Cig Kofte – You normally find the vegetarian one served in restaurants consisting of a spicy patties of lentils, bulgur, tomato paste and herbs although the traditional version is raw, spiced meatballs;
- Mucver – Grated vegetable (normally courgette or potato) patties;
- Sigara Borek – Fried, long, cigar shaped pastries with a white cheese and herb filling – like a cheese spring roll.
5. Pide and Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza). No trip to Turkey would be complete without trying the local pizzas cooked with Turkish flair! A very budget and kid friendly meal, if you like thin and crispy bases then these are the pizzas for you! Pide is traditionally thin, long and flat dough topped with a choice of meat, cheese or vegetables and baked in a special pide oven. The result is a crisp and thin like pizza. Lahmacun is similar but round in shape. A traditional mix of ground meat and herbs thinly spread over dough and baked until crisp. Both are delicious and can be found all around Fethiye in special pide restaurants or lokantas.
Can you think of any must try Turkish foods? Can you suggest anywhere else around Fethiye that does these dishes justice? If so please comment below.
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