Category Archives: Turkish Cuisine

Baklava

BaklavaBaklava is the Turks’ most important contribution to the world of desserts. It is made with flaky phyllo dough, layered with a pistachio or cinnamon-spiced walnut filling, and bathed in sweet syrup. It is crunchy, rich and very sweet. Well made baklava practically melts in your mouth and finishes with a crave for another one.

The best baklava is made in south-eastern Turkey, especially in Gaziantep -city famous for kebabs and pistachio related desserts. You may not easily find authentic Gaziantep baklava in western cities. I’d recommend you to try several alternatives, but “G├╝ll├╝o─člu” in Karak├Ây ─░stanbul would be the best shot. Also “Mado” -a widespread chain of caf├ęs- would worth a try.

Manti

MantiTurkish Cuisine is best known with kebabs abroad, but one of my favorite dishes is manti. I strongly recommend you to taste it during your visit.

Little information on manti: Specially treated chopped meat is divided into pieces as big as a pea, and each one is wrapped with a small and very thin dough. They are boiled and served with yoghurt (with garlic if desired) and tomato sauce. The best spice to be added is sumac. I also prefer dried peppermint and red pepper along with it.

Turkish Hors D’oeuvres (Meze)

Turkish Hors D'oeuvres (MezeMeze is a generel term for appetizers, mainly to go with raki. These dishes are mainly olive oil based, and main ingredients are vegetables, yoghurt and sea foods. There are tens of different hors d’oeuvres, and you are presented samples on a tray before you order. Just choose a couple according to your taste.

My personal favorites are: Feta (beyaz peynir), mashed eggplant (patl─▒can ezme) and salt-marinated fish (lakerda). You can try fried calamari (kalamar) or skewed shrimps (karides g├╝ve├ž) afterwards. Also I’d like to recommend melon with raki. Feta and melon are the two favorite sides with raki.

Turkish Raki

Turkish RakiRaki is a traditional Turkish alcoholic beverage. First of all, I would like to write about the sociologic role of raki. Raki is not just a booze. You don’t drink it in a couple minutes in a pub. It is an occasion for friends to come together, eat and chat for hours. It is generally consumed in dinner, together with special hors d’oeuvres (meze) and food for raki. There are two glasses per person on the table: one is for raki, and the other is for plain or mineral water.

Raki is made of grapes and anise. The smell of anise is very dominant. If you are not used to it, it may disturb at first; but after the first glass you would like it. Raki is 40% or more alcohol, hence it is strong and should be drunk diluted with water. Generally 1/2 raki and 1/2 water is preferred, but starters may dilute it more. Considering the second glass with water; some people prefer to drink raki straight. Raki is poured in the glass first, then water, and at last 2-3 ice cubes are added.

The major food with raki is feta (white cheese – beyaz peynir). Take a bite from the feta, and bread if you like, swallow and take a sip from raki and water at last. If raki is still too strong for you, eat more as you drink.

There are many hors d’oeuvres available, mainly vegetables with olive oil and sea food; the waiter would bring samples in a large tray at the beginning, you can choose as you like.

Then you may order hot hors d’oeuvres; calamari, stewed shrimps, etc.

As the main course, seasonal fish or kebabs are preffered. But some people prefer hors d’oeuvres only.

The dinner is generally finished with seasonal fruits and Turkish coffee.

Best places in Istanbul for raki are the restaurants in Beyoglu Nevizade, Cicek Pasaji, Asmalimescit and the ones under the Galata Bridge (on the Golden Horn).