Traditional Food Istanbul
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Sep 25, 2012 2:56 PM Last Post By: Scott_eyw
Aug 20, 2012 11:43 AM
Traditional Food IstanbulMy wife and I just booked our long awaited Turkey trip to cover traditional and native dishes for our website eatyourworld.com at the end of September. We are looking for suggestions firstly, in Instanbul of what dishes and drinks would be unique to the city and what places would have great representations of these foods. We are still in the early stages of planning but hope to hit a few other cities to see the differences in traditional foods. Any ideas of other great eating cities in Turkey would be appreciated as well. I hear Antep and Urfa may have great regional food.
Aug 20, 2012 12:21 PM
1Istanbul is such an old city and such a melting pot of all Turkeys representative groups that I don't feel it actually has a'signature dish'as such.There are many restaurants serving regional food but they aren't 'Istanbul 'food.Perhaps some of the most representative are various street foods(even though they can be found in other places people do associate them with Istanbul).
Fresh simits from a street stand-a bread ring covered in sesame seeds a bit like a bagel.Obligatory to share with the seagulls if you take a ferry!Roasted corn on the cob or hot roasted chestnuts during winter.
Traditional Karamanmaraş icecream which is like creamy elastic and the sellers wear a fancy outfit and entertain customers by playing games with the icecream-video's of this can be found on YouTube.Fresh fish sandwiches from the boats under Galata Bridgevers.
In winter salep sellers with their traditonal samovar servers.Salep is a thick milky warm drink made from the ground root of a rare orchid type.So rare is it that a lot of salep on sale is now synthetic and taking genuine salep out of the country is illegal!
Finally yarım ekmek döner-half a bread loaf filled with salad and slivers of grilled meat from a cylindrical turning spit,usually mutton or chicken.
Whilst most of these can be found in other towns they are all foods that visitors particularly comment on when in Istanbul.
Anywhere along the Aegean coast you can sample dishes famous from the area-fresh wild spring greens and olives and vegetable olive oil dishes,asma dolma,peppers,artichoke hearts etc.
The Black Sea coast is famous for it's hazel nut orchards,maize bread and dishes made with dark spring cabbage amongst other things...and also the inimitable Hamsi!Anchovies which are landed by the million tons all along the Black Sea coast and cooked in every way imaginable :)
Central Anatolia around Konya,Cappadocia etc is famous for different types of bread and pastry products.Konya for it's etli ekmek,bread with meat cooked in it and Kayseri for mantı,Turkish ravioli which is served with yogurt and garlic sauce rather than tomato like the Italian version.Kayseri is also famed for it's sucuk,a spicy sausage.
The southeast region has a huge range of famous foods-Adana and Urfa kebabs both very spicy.Isot is a type of very hot pepper grown in the area and used in these kebabs.A lovely dessert called Künefe,pistachio's from Antep,içli kofte(stuffed kofte),çiğ kofte-literally raw kofte,although today it is most often not made using raw meat due to health concerns.Be warned this is VERY hot.rapping it in lettuce leaves and drinking plenty of ayran(yoghurt drink)does nothing to dim it's nuclear power LOL!Ah,also tandir bread cooked in the ground and clotted yoghurt made from sheep milk and Van cheese made with wild herbs in it and fluffy bulgur pilavs.
I guess you get the picture by now;this is only a tiny tip of a very big iceberg and is a topic which could keep you travelling around Turkey for years to come.What a great project!
Aug 21, 2012 2:29 AM
2We enjoyed our time in Istanbul so much. We adopted a policy of looking for restaurants that didn't offer alcohol – usually catering for locals (well, at least Turkish people holidaying in Istanbul). We ate at the Galata Bridge and although the fare was a bit ordinary the view is spectacular. We also took the tram around to the Fish Markets at Kumkapi for a delightful evening. There, you can choose the quieter sea-side strip with the lovely view or the more vibrant area on the other side of the tram tracks. The list of specific foods you've been offered in the previous post is unbeatable but I didn't see one recommendation – the long logs of Turkish Delight in the Spice Bazaar. Our favourite was Pomegranate rolled in Pistachio! Enjoy!
Edited by: bennstrudle
Aug 21, 2012 2:53 AM
3I was in Urfa and watched a local TV show of people making çiğ köfte- which is made of raw mince!
Because it was hot (its always hot in Urfa) you could see the sweat of the chefs dripping onto the meal as it was being made.
A huge number of people were in the audience, all salivating at the thought of getting stuck into the end result.
I doubt the TV show showed people leaving after the meal- throwing up everywhere, being taken to hospital........
Ever since then my stock reply to waiters in Turkish restaurants has been 'Adana Kebab, thank you!'
Aug 21, 2012 3:31 AM
4Eeuck!No,I wouldn't want to eat çiğ kofte made under hot studio lights either!It is a very vigorous process to make good çiğ kofte and usually there is some one at the chefs elbow handing him things and mopping his brow-a bit like a surgeon :)
I just wish when eating that same person was at my elbow to mop my brow LOL!
Ah,lokum how could I forget?and Gaziantep's world famous baklava?My list was long but also very small.....
One other thing for Istanbul is authentic Ottoman cuisine(Osmanlı)as was served in the royal palaces.This isn't seen much outside Istanbul and there are a few restaurants who specialise in these dishes.
Asitane restaurant has to be arguably the best in Istanbul but also Paşazade,Matbah and Feriye restaurants serve authentic ottoman cuisine.
Aug 21, 2012 7:28 AM
5There are a great variety of eggplant (patlican in Turkish) dishes. The eggplants are picked very small and even those (like me) who don't particularly care for eggplant may enjoy. Those who like eggplant should love some of the Turkish preparations.
The crispy fried rings or sticks (sort of the texture of cake-like donuts) coated in simple syrup and often some nut flavoring are a wonderful treat on occasion.
Turkish cakes (pasta) are wonderfully textured, lightly sweet and beautifully decorated.
Lentil soup is ubiquitous, extraordinarily varied in its preparation and runs the range from OK to excellent.
The trip soup is often declicious although it does leave you with rather bad breath. Turkish tell me it is sort of a "hangover" food and if you smell of it on the subway people will think you are hung over.
The lokantas (traditional restaurants) are your best bet for finding authentic, common and often delicious food. Stuffed peppers/eggplants, very nicely seasoned white beans in tomato sauce, and what appear to be the most hideously overgrown rough textured string beans (they are actually quite good) are very popular.
As mentioned you can find almost every regional food in Istanbul even if many will say, "It's better in 'x' where it originates." Turkish food is so varied (and to me so delicious and healthy) that you see very few places serving foods from other countries. Only in the British package tourist "colonies" will you find much ethnic food and my personal suggestions is to stay away from it! Forget beef steak if you intend to compare it U.S. midwestern, corn-fattened beef as you will be greatly disappointed. Most is like the "good" grade served by so many US chain steakhouses minus the digestive enzyme injections that make me call it "pre-chewed meat".
Aug 23, 2012 1:30 AM
6If you are wanting to try regional dishes in Istanbul there are 2 areas that are must dos.
Firstly Little Siirt, which is in Itfaiye Caddesi, parallel with Ataturk Bulvari, very close to the Valens Aqueduct. Here you can sample slow cooked lamb & pencere pilav which is a rice and almond dish encased in a yoghurt based 'pastry' and cooked in a special pot. This area is also very interesting for foodies as there are spice shops, honey from Van, butcher shops with piles of tripe on the pavement - you name it. Its back street Istanbul and a great local experience. Even if you don't eat, stop for a cup of tea under the wonderfully cool canopy of trees and people watch.
The second area is Aksaray, walking distance from Little Siirt or right by the start of the metro to the airport. If you are taking the tram, get off at Yusufpasa and follow the walking signs to the metro. The area behind the metro is all eateries form the Sanliurfa and Hatay regions. Try the icli kofte, aubergine (patlican) kebab, the dessert called peynirli kunefe.
My recommendation is to get off the main tourist drags by catching the suburban train or a local bus and just get off and explore an area. Look for a lokantasi with a daily range of dishes, meat and vegetarian, that have been slow cooked. They are served in portions or half portions, they're all delicious and are served with heaps of fresh, crusty bread and tea. If the bread is in a plastic bin on the table, you know you're eating Turkish local!!!!
Aug 25, 2012 9:25 AM
Sep 7, 2012 6:54 AM
Sep 7, 2012 8:28 AM
9Oh well at least you can sample food from the southeast whilst in Istanbul as suggested earlier.
The Black Sea coast covers a great distance and each area has some distinct local specialities as well as dishes you'll find all along the coast.Would you be bus hopping along the coast or flying direct to ??? where ever?
You could fly direct to Trabzon for a couple of days and then work your way by bus backwards maybe as far as Ankara and then fly the remainder.here are a few places to consider-
Trabzon cuisine is very much sea based and especially hamsi,anchovies cooked in every possible way imaginable.Corn bread,spring cabbage dishes,string cheese,honey,Laz Böreği(Laz pastry),flour helva and mıhlama,a type of smooth porridge type dish eaten for breakfast are also a local specialities.This may be interesting reading for you-
Many of these dishes can be found all along the coast as families moved west taking with them their recipes.
Another nice stopping point would be Amasya.This lovely town is inland from the coast and offers some slightly different traditional foods and is famous apple growing area.Foods associated with the area include keşkek,boiled wheat with lamb stew and chick pea dishes.This wonderful web site will interest you!
Amasya is also a very scenic area to walk off all those calories :)
For hundreds of years one city has always been linked with producing great chefs and that is Bolu between Ankara and Istanbul and where glorious Lake Abant is also found.There are several hotels here with training kitchens for the new generation of chefs.So this again would be a nice stop off going from or returning to Istanbul.
The Black Sea coast has a temperate climate rather similar to northern Europe and in the mountainous eastern end winters are fierce so they are limited in what they can grow there.So the cuisine of the Black Sea generally reflects what has traditionally been able to be grown and the endless ability of the housewives to produce such a variety of tasty dishes from these foods.
Can you guess where I live LOL?
Sep 25, 2012 11:32 AM
10You are making me very excited. Here is what we decided on and booked. Fly to Samsun, rent a car and drive to Unye, then back to Sinop, down to Amasya, Tokat, and then down to Cappadocia. Can we email you some specific food/restaurant questions in the next day or two for this region? Thanks again!
Sep 25, 2012 11:39 AM
11Yes of course but it is better to ask up on the forum so the info is shared with others who could be interested or heading out to some of these places .
Also if you take a look at some of the trip reviews from forum member jonmw he visited several of these places just over a month ago and mentioned various places he ate and what he ate.
Have a great tour!
Edited by: sarikanarya
Sep 25, 2012 2:56 PM
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