Turkish cuisine spread at home

On my journey to discovering food around the world, my first stop has been Turkey. Of  course, I’ve been discovering a lot about Turkish Cuisine lately!

A while back, I talked about stocking your pantry with the ingredients needed for Turkish food! Now it’s time to talk about what to do with it!

If you’re into breakfast then I highly recommend trying out this Menemen-inspired recipe from a few weeks ago.

Over the course of the last few weeks, I also discovered a lot of inspiring bloggers, books, and cooks to teach you all about Turkish food if you wanted to delve into your own journey.

MY FAVORITE TURKISH COOKBOOKS AND BLOGS

If you’re like me and can read cookbooks from cover to cover, then these two will be right up your alley!

Essential Turkish Cuisine by Egin Akin

Egin Akin was called Turkey’s Julia Child by Food and Wine magazine. Naturally, this cookbook has a wealth of knowledge! This is a book about Turkish cuisine, Akin delves into the history and roots of the cuisine, as well as a list of commonly used spices in Turkish cuisine. Recipes are then split into 4 different categories

  1. Small Plates (Meze)
  2. Main Dishes and Accompaniments
  3. Bread, Pasta, Pastries
  4. Sweet and Beverages

Some of the recipes are more accessible than others, but there are sufficient instructions for all the recipes, making the cuisine not as intimidating as when I first started!

The Sultan’s Kitchen: A Turkish Cookbook by Özcan Ozan

This book contains suggested menus by season, Turkish ingredients, and then splits the book into recipes by course and type (appetizers, breads, meats, seafood, pilafs, salads, desserts). There are a lot of great vegetarian recipes, with mostly familiar ingredients! All the recipes are preceded by a short introduction that make the food so much more appetizing!

Ozlem’s Turkish Kitchen

I loved how diverse all the recipes on this blog were. Ozlem’s Turkish Kitchen was such a great resource, from the description of ingredients to the recipes, and little anecdotes that tell a story about the food!

I spent so many hours perusing through these cookbooks and blogs! But of course, all this inspiration, and so many dishes, where does one start?

So here’s a run down of some Turkish cuisine favorites!

TURKISH CUISINE FAVORITES

I started off thinking that Turkish food might be quite intimidating! But there’s so many dishes that are very accessible.

Curious to make some of your own? I’ve scoured some dishes for you to try if you’re interested in making your own Turkish feast.

Snacks/Appetizers/Light Meals

Borek

This is a classic pastry made with phyllo pastry found in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Foolproof Living has a great Spinach and Feta Borek Recipe with lots of instructions! I used the recipe and replaced the fresh spinach with frozen, and it turned out great!

Spinach and cheese Borek

Pide

The Turkish pizza! This is a flatbread baked with toppings in a stone oven – very similar to a deep dish pizza! This is a bucket list recipe for me, because well, who doesn’t like pizza! I don’t always have the patience to make my own pizza dough, but this Genius Kitchen Recipe seems like a great place to start!

Simit

This is the Turkish equivalent of a bagel! It is often eaten as a quick breakfast, served with feta cheese, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, and Turkish tea! Apart from the bookmarks in the cookbooks, I’ve also bookmarked this Simit recipe from Foolproof Living which also has a video!

Mezze – The snack / appetizer course

This is more of a course or a type of eating – various small plates served either before a meal or at snack time. A typical meze spread will consist of beyaz peynir (white cheese similar to feta), melon, cold salads, some hot appetizers, and some dolma (vegetables stuffed with rice).

Meat: Kebaps / Kofte

I live in a carnivorous household. We try to get our share of vegetables, but only because we have to! So, of course, we love Kebaps / Kofte. Being Pakistani, we also have our own version of kebabs. Turkish kebabs come in various forms, most of them starting with ground lamb or beef, a few spices and either grilled or cooked on the stove and served with dips, while others are finished off in the oven with some tomato sauce, like İzmir köfte. 

There are more types of kebabs than regions in Turkey of course and each region has it’s own difference in ingredients, spice levels, cooking methods, and how it’s served! A few to try would be: Iskander Kabap, most popular from the Northernwestern side, or the Ali Nazik.

If that’s not enough of a selection, check out this list on Spruce Eats!

Meals and Feasts

There were some dishes that were a lot more involved, and I haven’t had the opportunity to try them all, but I came across these and will definitely post if I get a chance to try these!

Manti

This is a Turkish version of dumplings or ravioli, depending on who you talk to! It’s flour dumplings stuffed with meat and covered in spicy, yogurt sauce. I’ve had an Afghani version of this dish, and it is delicious, it’s definitely something I have to try making myself!

Dolma and Sarma

Vegetables are either stuffed (dolma) or wrapped (sarma) vegetables often with stuffed with meat, and seasoned rice. They make an appearance in mezze, often cold, or can be served warm as part of the main course, like these Biber dolma – peppers with seasoned rice and meat.

Turkish Cuisine - Stuffed red peppers

Pilav

Pilavs are a category than a singular dish – they’re dishes based in rice, cracked wheat or bulgar or orzo, served often with meats. The basic pilav is rice cooked in butter served as a side. Other times, the pilav is cooked with chickpeas or meats and served as a main! In the historical Ottoman Empire, a simple rice pilaf would be served at the end of a meal! The rice used in Turkey is Baldo rice, which is similar to arborio rice and is often used as a substitute.

A basic Turkish Pilav is made with Orzo, like here or more complex wrapped in yukfa or phyllo pastry called Perdeli Pilav!

Turkish Cuisine

Imam Bayildi

This is an eggplant dish stuffed with tomatoes and onions, and poached in olive oil! Legend says that the Imam fainted (bayildi), either from shock or pleasure!

So here you have it, a small foray into Turkish cuisine. If you love flavour, and meat, and carbs, I’m sure you’ll find something you absolutely love in these dishes!

Let me know if you end up trying any of these dishes!

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