Don’t Leave Istanbul Without Tasting These Flavors! Part 1
Flavors of Turkish Cuisine are innumerable! From Asiya to Europe, Pacific to America, you can find someone who knows the Turkish Cuisine in nearly every continent. Leaving Istanbul before tasting these flavors would be an in vain visit indeed. Let’s look at this special list that we have prepared just for you, in order to save you from self-regret.
Not Without the Flavor of Buttery Doner – Iskender
Döner which has a strong position in the Turkish Cuisine since the 19th century is a type of kebap which derived from spit-roasted lamb (in which you roll the lamb under the coal fire). Today besides the red meat, they make special sujuk or chicken version of it and the chicken one is quite popular nowadays.
You can buy doner served on the rice with a plate, or just a wrap or in a pitta bread. But maybe the most popular form of the doner is a special one called ”Iskender Kebap”, which is a mix of butter and tomato paste and yogurt on the side of a plate.
Joy of Eating Fish in the Bosphorus
Turkey has a specific seafood cuisine thanks to being surrounded by the seas from three sides. Turkey, in which different kinds of species and tasty fishes hunted every season, the Bosphorus holds one of the most important lines about this. Because of its location, the luckiest place about fishes is the Bosphorus. With so many restaurant options both on the coast of Anatolian and the European Coast, you can eat many fresh fishes and delicious kinds of seafood.
Heaven of ‘Meyhane’s: Istanbul
Even though the Turkish translation of Meyhane is Ginmill on the dictionaries, it is not correct. Meyhanes have a specific place in both Turkish culture and its cuisine. Since the beginning of these places, they have been used as a spot to make deep conversations, speak about nuisances and sometimes have fun without thinking tomorrow. Moreover, you can eat your appetizers and drink your ”raki” while doing all of these. Actually, raki is the main reason for these. Meyhane is an irreplaceable place for friendships and conversations with friends.
Meyhane culture dates back to the 15th century in Turks. Meyhane culture in Istanbul is actually more developed at areas that non-muslim people live. Galata, Tahtakale, Ortaköy, Tarabya, Kumkapı, Balık Pazarı, Kadıköy, Yeniköy, and Çengelköy are among the places that have the richest meyhane culture. Just around the Galata Tower, you can find hundreds of meyhanes.
Lord of the Alcoholic Drinks: Rakı
The Raki which doesn’t have a history as old as the beer or the wine was told to be invented by the Ottoman Empire. In Turkey, they call the rakı ”Lion’s Milk” and there is a reason behind that. In earliest days of Raki within the Ottoman Empire, they served the raki in glasses that have lion embossments and has a color similar to milk. Rakı, which is created from the Razaki ( sweet and white grape) type of grape, had been called by ”araka” or ”araki” names too.
You need to drink this specific drink which came to our lives in the second half of the 1800’s, with a proper attitude. It is advised to drink raki slowly in a ”Çilingir Sofrası.” Çilingir sofrası is kind of a binge with lots of appetizer plates, entree starters, meat dishes, and some fruit. You can dry the raki sec but it is not recommended if it’s your first time since it is a seriously powerful beverage. If you are a beginner or just want to go slow, you can drink raki with water or ice too.
Essential Flavor: Kebab
Kebap is a general name given to the meat dishes which cooked under the coal fire in East Mediterranean and Southeastern Anatolia regions. Among the Kebaps made from mincemeat, there is the Adana with a bitter taste and the Urfa without the bitter taste. Adana and Urfa are actually two cities of Turkey and there has been a constant fight about who came up with the Kebap idea first. Besides these, you can find many kebabs with peanut, tomato, aubergine, and vegetables.
The best place to eat kebap is the place called ”Ocakbasi” in Turkish. At these ocakbasi places, you can just sit next to the fireplace in which the kebab gets cooked and eat it immediately after it is ready. It is possible to eat kebap wraps from street food places too. Don’t let the name fool you, there are many succesful kebab makers with kebap restaurant chains which started with selling them from streets.
Turkish Style Fast Food: Lahmacun
Lahmacun is a flavor born from Southeast cuisine of Turkey. It is some kind of a crispy and thin pizza of course with other ingredients. It is a flatbread or crispy dough which is smeared with minced lamb, tomatoes, Aleppo pepper, onions, and parsley. It can be made bitter or regular and there are even vegan lahmacuns without the meat. Besides, you can find ”peymacun” which takes its first half of the name from the ”peynir” of cheese and obviously macun as the second half from ”lahmacun”: It is made from cheese and parsley.
Lahmacun, which is round and thin, can be eaten by rolling it into a wrap. You can add extra onions or salad inside of it according to your palatal delight. The best beverage for the lahmacun is the Ayran, without a doubt.
A Feast with the Sesame Seeds: Bagel or Simit
If you are at any city in Turkey, you cannot have missed these bagels or Simits with the traditional name. Simit, which was created as a street food of Istanbul during old times, and has delicious flavors can be found at the most luxurious patisseries of many cities too. Over a few years, it is possible to find a variety of bagels with olives, cheddar cheese, sujuk and many more. Even though these bagels don’t look the original bagel type, they have the same taste and they are made just like a calzone.
This sesame-covered circular bread is actually a historical and cultural heritage of Turkey and Istanbul. It can be considered even the unofficial national food. It is traditionally sold on the streets.