Expert’s picks: must-try traditional Turkish cheeses

Divle Obruk tulum 

Traditionally made from Karaman sheep milk, this mature cheese is pressed into sheep or goatskin bags (tulum), and stored in a deep cave throughout the summer. Local bacteria changes the rind color to blue and white, but the delicacy is ready when red spots start appearing on the rind. 

Where to try it: with a glass of kınali yapıncak at Suvla’s breezy terrace in Kanyon.   

Avanos küp peyniri 

This rare delicacy ripens in clay pots buried in basements of Cappadocia’s stone houses, and is neither easy to find nor cheap. Average aging time is two to three years, and might require signing up to a waiting list. Our absolute favorite is made by Hacer Özkaya in Güzelyurt. 

Where to try it: during your next trip to Cappadocia. 

Eski kaşar 

Produced in Turkey’s western region of Thrace, eski kaşar brings to mind some of the European mature hard cheeses. Although generally available for sale within six to 24 months from production date, some producers let it rest for another year (if the environment permits) for a fuller taste. 

Where to try it: available in all major supermarkets, it pairs well with wines from Thrace. 

Konya küflü peynir

Although available in every single eatery of its hometown, this ‘green cheese’ only entered Istanbul’s culinary scene recently. Taking its color from added roquefort mold, this aged treat tends to give its bright color to the dishes it is a part of. 

Where to try it: when passing through Konya, have it as a topping for your pide. 


Lor is the name of a traditional fresh cheese curd, used in Turkish cuisine to make pretty much anything from börek filling to mezze. Once you come across the smoked variety, you can never go back. 

Where to try it: as part of various types of mezze, it is available in meyhanes specializing in Aegean cuisine. 


This crumbled cheese with a very intense odour is unfortunately only made in traditional households, usually for their private consumption. It is generously mixed and covered with salt, while the skin in which the cheese is aged is buried in damp soil for two to three months. 

Where to try it: a rare find in Istanbul, sometimes available from artisan cheese shops such as Cankurtaran Gıda at the Spice Bazaar. 


Originating from the Greek island of Mykonos, kopanisti is a type of lor of a very distinctive spicy taste. The cheese is sold in glass jars used for ripening for approximately one month. 

Where to try it: during the season (summer/fall) buy from Antre Gourmet shop in Cihangir.