Turkey is known for its unique culture which is a blend of both European and middle-east Asian influences.
With its picturesque landscapes, vibrant Turkish and indigenous cultures and a beautiful history, Turkey is a go-to vacation of tourists around the world.
The Turks are fond of their food and you must relish the traditional Turkish dishes if you are planning a trip to the country.
Kebabs are one of the most famous Turkish dishes and many people believe that it is the only dish Turkey has to offer. However, contrary to popular belief, Turkish cuisine consists of a variety of lip-smacking dishes apart from kebabs and other non-vegetarian delicacies.
No wonder that the unique Turkish food makes the country a haven for foodies who love to explore new tastes. With lesser use of seasonings and more fresh ingredients, the Turkish dishes are cooked to perfection with care and passion.
Fun fact: Since most of the Turkish cuisine is cooked in olive oil, it is much healthier for your body!
15 Best Turkish Dishes to Try in 2023 For A Delicious Treat
Read more to know about the best Turkish dishes to try on your next trip to Turkey.
The Piyaz salad is one of the most famous dishes of the city of Antalya in Turkey. The major ingredient of the dish is a special variety of beans called candir which derives its name from the inland province where it grows.
The candir are mixed with thinned tahini, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, garlic, flat-leafed parsley and olive oil. When served traditionally, the dish is topped with chopped boiled egg.
Where to eat: Piyazci Sami Ahmet
Kofte: Turkish Meatballs
The Indian koftas originated from the middle-east region. They are one of the most famous Turkish dishes to try on a trip to Turkey. Koftas are a Turkish version of European meatballs.
Balls of lamb or beef are either served in stew or sandwiches or salads. A vegetarian variety of koftas are made with chickpeas or vegetables. Koftas are an integral part of the Turkish household.
Where to eat: Tarihi Sultanahmet Koftecisi
Corba: The Turkish Soup
Turkish people are fond of soups which makes it one of the best Turkish dishes. The varieties of Corba include tomato or lentil and are topped with chili flakes or dried mint.
According to a legend, this dish was prepared by an unhappy married woman named Ezo who cooked Corba to impress her mother-in-law.
Where to eat: Corba Konagi
Pide: Turkish Patty
One of the most famous Turkish dishes, it can be found easily in any part of Turkey. Pide is the best Turkish cuisine to try in Istanbul.
The patty is made from a well-kneaded dough loaded with a choice of filling and cooked in a wood-fired oven which brings out its crisp and crunchy taste.
Where to eat: Cappadocia Pide House
The Turkish cuisine also includes Manti, the Turkish version of Italian ravioli. These are meat-stuffed mini ravioli tossed in yogurt and chili flakes.
The meat is either boiled or dried combined with a variety of spices to enrich the flavour. This is one of the go-to household dishes among the Turkish people and is one of the most famous Turkish dishes in India.
Where to eat: Sinopia Manti Evi
Iskender Kebab: Turkish Lamb Strips
Any list of best Turkish dishes is incomplete without the varieties of Turkish kebabs. This dish includes lamb strips tossed in tomato sauce and served with pita bread, grilled vegetables and yogurt.
The dish is named after Alexander from the Ottoman Empire (Iskender Efendi) who resided in Busra and cooked it for the first time for the workers in Kayhan Bazaar in 1867 as per the legends.
Where to eat: Adana Ocakbasi
Lahmacun: The Turkish Pizza
With Turkish and Persion influences, the Italian dish pizza has been adapted as Lahmacun which derives its name from the Arabic word lahm-i-acinli. It is made with lahm (meat in arabic) and ajin (paste).
The paste is made from low fat mince combined with tomato paste, garlic and spices which is spread on pita dough and served with fresh parsley. The dish has been savoured by the Turks for more than 300 years.
Where to eat: Halil Lahmacun
Baklava is one of the most famous Turkish desserts to try on your trip to Turkey. According to the Turks, the best baklava is made in a dark room with controlled temperature to bring out the perfect flavour of this culinary marvel which consists of 40 sheets of stacked tissue-like pastry.
Each sheet is brushed with butter and topped with ground pistachios after every few layers. Honey syrup is poured over the baklava which is baked until golden. Baklava is the perfect Turkish cuisine for the people with a sweet-tooth!
Where to eat: Karakoy Gulluoglu
Kahvalti: Turkish Breakfast
When in Turkey, you must try the Turkish breakfast. Being a part of Turkish cuisine, it is unique from the regular continental breakfast platters.
Instead of butter or jam, the bread is filled with tomatoes, olives or cheese. Not only is it delicious, but also a healthy eating option for your trip to Turkey.
Where to eat: Cesme Bazlama Kahvalti
The Famous Turkish Tea and Coffee
Do not miss out on the traditional Turkish beverages on your trip to Turkey! Teas are an important part of Turkish cuisine.
The Turkish teas are aromatic and flavourful. On the other hand, Turkish coffees are one of the most famous beverages in the world. They are bitter, thick and served in traditional small cups. For a traditional experience of the Turkish dishes, you must try these beverages!
Where to eat: Mandabatmaz Coffee House
Simit: The Turkish Pretzels
If you want to try some unique Turkish dishes, we suggest you try the Turkish pretzels known as Simit. It is best to try as a breakfast dish served with Turkish tea or coffee.
Simit can be dated back to the Ottoman Empire and has a unique taste. It is crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside with a nutty taste due to the topping of sesame seeds.
It is one of the most famous street-foods to try in Turkey and is readily available everywhere, from street vendors to cafes and restaurants.
Where to eat: Galata Simitcisi
Dolma: A Vegetarian Delight
This vegetarian delicacy is proof that Turkish cuisine is much more than just kebabs. Fresh or dried vegetables along with eggplants, peppers, tomatoes and zucchinis are stuffed with rice and onions and then cooked in water and butter.
Dolma is one of the most famous vegetarian Turkish dishes even beyond Turkey. The Yaprak dolma is also made in Isparta style where a mixture of rice, tomato, parsley, onion, garlic, olive oil, black pepper and salt is rolled within a vine leaf.
Where to eat: Golden Midye
Durum: Turkish-Style Burrito
Durum is the Turkish version of a burrito and is one of the most famous Turkish street foods. It consists of slow cooked chicken, lamb or beef along with veggies served in a wrap made of special Turkish bread.
The wrap is made of lavash, a thin Turkish flatbread which is thinner than the bread used in other Turkish dishes.
Where to eat: Durumzade
Lokum: The Turkish Delights
Lokum, also known as Turkish Delights, is one of the most famous Turkish dishes all around the world and dates back to centuries. These are usually made by combining water, starch and sugar with an addition of rose water, pistachio and other flavours and shaped in cubes.
With a sugary and sweet taste, the texture of this delight is gummy and sticky and is most loved by children. The Turkish Delights became famous among the Ottoman Empire only in the mid-19th century with the invention of corn starch which was added to its ingredients by Haci Bekir, a confectioner from Istanbul.
Where to eat: Hafiz Mustafa 1864
Kunefe: Most Famous Turkish Dessert
The list of best Turkish dishes must be concluded with the perfect dessert! Kunefe or Knafeh is a traditional dessert dish in the middle-east.
It is made with spun pastry called kataifi, soaked in sugar syrup called attar and layered with cheese, clotted cream or pistachios. This lip-smacking dessert is a must-try if you love to savour desserts.
Where to eat: Keyfeder Kunefe Katmer
Make sure to try these Turkish dishes next time you visit Turkey for a traditional Turkish experience for your mouth.
Now that you know what to eat, let’s talk about where to eat. Turkey, being famous for its authentic and unique flavours, has preserved its culinary style in its famous restaurants that offer the best of traditional Turkish cuisine.
These places are worth visiting if you are looking for a lip-smacking Turkish experience:
- Asitane, Istanbul
Famous for: Traditional Turkish dishes and traditional ambience inspired by Ottoman Empire
Famous for: Experimental dishes with Anatolian roots and gourmet cuisine
Famous for: Esnaf (tradesman) dishes and cafe-styled ambience located in the sophisticated neighbourhood Nisantasi
- Borsa Restaurant
Famous for: Legacy of Turkish cuisine since 1927, special dishes like yaprak sarmasi and kuzu tandir
- Taksim Square
Famous for: Doner Kebabs, Durum, smokey BBQs
- Mevlana Kebap Lahmacun Salonu
Famous for: Affordable prices, Lahmacun, affordable street food
- Karakoy Gulluoglu
Famous for: Baklava, pastries, Turkish Delights, Dil Cheese Pie
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