Types of Turkish Food

Bread is the main item in a Turkish meal. The basic wheat dough is baked into fresh loaves usually in the neighborhood bakery. There are varieties of breads like the elmek, pide or manti, which is a dumpling with meat filling. Borek is a special bread where thin sheets of dough are layered with cheese or meat mixes, folded or rolled and then baked or fried. Pilaf, another main dish in Turkey, is fine-grained rice cooked in butter with onions, meat and vegetables.

The typical Turkish meat item is Kebab. The popular varieties of kebabs are the 'sis' kebabs and the 'doner' kebabs. Sis kebabs are grilled pieces of skewered meat. Doner kebabs are made by stacking alternate layers of ground meat and sliced leg of lamb and grilling them over a slow fire. The fine taste of kebabs really depends on the breed of cattle or sheep rather than the chef or the recipe.

Turkey abounds in 'Kebabci's that serve authentic grilled meat. The dish served is generally an 'Izgara' or a mixed grill dish consisting of lamb chops, 'sis kebabs' and 'kofte'. 'Kofte' is ground meat mixed with spices, eggs and onions, shaped into balls and then fried or boiled. Beyti in Florya - Istanbul serves the best Turkish meat dishes.

Among vegetables, eggplants are a special favorite. Olive oil is generally used for cooking vegetables. A special Turkish food item is 'Dolma'. Vegetables are stuffed with rice or spiced meat fillings and cooked in olive oil. 'Dolma' is eaten with yogurt sauce. The best vegetable preparations are available at a 'Lokanta' - small eating houses where people working nearby come for a simple meal of soups, traditional main dishes and desserts. Borsa, Konyali in Istanbul, Haci Salik, Liman and Ciftlik in Ankara are some popular 'Lokantas'.

Another category of Turkish food is 'Meze' or dishes to accompany alcoholic drinks as a starter. Drinking alcohol with family and friends is traditional in Turkey. Slices of honeydew lemon, fete cheese with bread, dried and marinated mackerel; savory pastry and cold vegetable dishes are generally served as meze. The meze items vary according to the course being served

Fish is an important item of Turkish food especially in winter when the summer vegetables are scarce. Ankara has some of the finest fish restaurants, the fish being transported here daily from the coastal regions. Each dish of fish is accompanied by a particular type of vegetable. Bonita is eaten with arugula and red onions, blue fish with lettuce and turbot with cos lettuce. The best fish in Turkey is the 'Hamsi'. The Turks have fifty ways of cooking Hamsi.

The taverns along the harbor serve some of the best fish. In the more fashionable restaurants in Tanabya or Bebek you can pick your choice of fish from the kitchen and give instructions for cooking as well.