Wow, that title was a mouthful.
… Get it?
One of the questions I get asked most often when people find out I’m foreign is “what’s your favorite Turkish food?”. I never know what to say, because I can’t really chose a stand-alone favorite. I do have a few dishes ready that I list off when this inevitable query is mentioned. Some days I prefer one over the other, but it’s all just on a whim. Honestly, whenever I see one of these dishes on the table, I immediately have a smile on my face!
These are my top ten favorite foods, broken down into their respective categories. I didn’t include things that we also eat in the US (like kumpir/baked potato and the like).
1. DOLMA: If you don’t like dolma, we can’t be friends. A variety of vegetables fall under the category “dolma”, but they all have one thing in common: they are stuffed with rice, herbs, spices, and sometimes meat (depending on your recipe). Boiled/steamed, the rice is cooked and the flavors of the vessel veggie are trapped inside. You can find pepper, onion, tomato, eggplant, dried eggplant, grape leaf (aka sarma), and cabbage dolmas, among others. My favorites are sweet red pepper, dried eggplant, and sarma!
Oh, the remaining water after boiling makes an excellent soup with a few additions!
2. ISKENDER: A shaved meat dish similar to döner, these meat is laid on a bed of soft pita bread and drowned in tomato sauce, chhhsssss melted butter, and a side of plain yogurt. Unfortunately this meal tends to be a bit pricey compared to its sandwich counter part. For us it is a special indulgence… A delicious, fattening indulgence.
3. KARNIYARIK: Lightly fried eggplant halves filled with a ground beef mixture then baked. There is something about fried eggplant (without breading) that is just… Amazing. So soft, so velvety, somewhat sweet…mhm. Whenever we eat something fried, we usually serve it with yogurt and a salad. The spices, herbs, onion, and other additions to the meat mixture make it flavorful without being overwhelming and losing the flavor of the eggplant.
4. KÖZLEME PATLICAN: Speaking of eggplant… Fire roasted eggplant. Oh. My. Gosh. You can’t jar the flavor of eggplants actually cooked over an open flame. We roasted a few kilos of eggplant from our garden last summer and froze it for the winter. I prefer mine drowned in garlic yogurt, mixed with olive oil, parsley, mint, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. I mean, dang. Hubby likes it without the yogurt and adding tomato. But… But… Garlic yogurt!
5. BEZELYE YEMEĞİ :We all remember pushing peas around our plates as kids… But no one will be turning up their nose at this! A classic sulu (with water) food, bezelye yemeği consists of chopped and sautéed onions, carrots, and potatoes, swimming in a tomatoe-y broth with the peas happily joining in the fray. This is my favorite of the “standard” (I call sulu foods standard because everything can be made like this lol) Turkish meals. You can also add ground beef!
6. BİBERLİ LOR :Nom. Nom. Nom. This is a great way to give in to my cheese addiction. Lor is basically ricotta cheese, and biberli lor is ricotta cheese mixed in with sautéed peppers. Heat it all up together and make sure there is plenty of olive oil! I hope you aren’t worried about gaining a few pounds…
7. ÇILBUR :This mix sounds weird but I swear it is delicious. Pan cooked eggs (no milk, not beaten, and not quite fried… Just oil and eggs cooked until it’s not runny) smothered in plain yogurt (and if you have caught on to my preferences… Garlic is an option for a lunch time meal). I like to drizzle a sauce made from butter and salça (like manti) on top.
8. MUHALLEBI : Basically a very light, plain pudding that I just love. It’s almost fluffy because it’s made with rice starch instead of corn or wheat. Add a little sakiz, and I’m in heaven!
9. AYVA TATLISI : Poached quince with cinnamon and whipped cream. Hello, delcious!
10. BAKLAVA : No list of delicious Turkish foods is complete without baklava. I’m pretty picky about it, though! I like mine to be crunchy, flaky, and not drown in sugar syrup! And while you’re at it, make it with walnuts. I know for some it is sacrilege, but I really like walnuts…
Anyway, when you get the chance give these a try! I hope you didn’t gain a few kg just reading!
Honorable mentions (you’ll have to look up for yourself!): Cig kofte, mercimek kofte, patlican yemegi, kisir, bamya yemegi, yayla corbasi…ok I need to stop or I’ll list everything!