Turkey’s rich, fascinating culinary scene can be dazzling to beginners. With this essential glossary, go from Turkish food beginner to expert in no time.

A for ayran One of Turkey’s national drinks, ayran is a salty yogurt beverage that balances well with savory dishes and is great for your digestive system.

B for baklava With fine layers of thin dough and nuts baked and soaked in syrup, baklava is a rich, ancient dessert whose flavors and varieties differ between regions.

C for cezerye Famous from Mersin, cezerye is a gummy confection mainly made with caramelized carrots, shredded coconut, and various nuts.

Ç for Çiya –When it comes to traditional, regional Turkish cuisine, Çiya is the place to go. Visit the iconic restaurant in Kadıköy for its delicious lahmacun and signature kebab dishes.

Baklava

D for dolmaCommon in Turkish home cooking, dolma refers to any kind of stuffed dish, such as peppers or eggplant filled with minced meat and spiced rice .

E for erişte Erişte are short, flat egg noodles typically cooked with butter and walnuts. It is also used as an accompaniment in soups.

F for fig – Turkey is a world leader in fig production. Dried figs are enjoyed year-round as a tasty treat, but the chewy, sweet fruit is best enjoyed during summer and fall when it is fresh.

G for gözleme Cooked on an iron pan with oil, gözleme is a savory flatbread dish often filled with potatoes, cheese, spinach, or minced meat.

H for helva Made with flour, sugar, and oil, helva is a confection used in breakfast as well as after meal treats. The tahini flavor is a classic.

Kaymak

İ for işkembe çorbasıBest enjoyed with vinegar and garlic sauce, işkembe çorbası is a creamy tripe soup that many consider a hangover remedy.

K for kaymak – Made with milk from water buffaloes or cows and typically served with honey on traditional breakfast tables, kaymak is the Turkish version of clotted cream.

L for lahmacunLahmacun is a thin dough baked with minced meat, tomatoes, and herbs on top. Spread some salad, squeeze some fresh lemon juice, and roll it into a wrap to eat.

M for mantıSimilar to dumplings and ravioli but smaller in size, mantı is a comfort food served with spices, yogurt, and garlic sauce.

Lahmacun

N for nut – Turkey’s abundant nut production makes hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds widely used for daily snacks, pastries, sauces, and dishes.

O for olive – Olives and olive oil are indispensable to every Turkish table. You can easily find high quality local produce in markets and restaurants.

P for pastırmaPastırma is a cured beef seasoned with red pepper, fenugreek, and garlic and great on pide and in menemen.

R for rakı Dubbed “lion’s milk,” rakı is an anise-flavored alcoholic drink that plays an important role in meyhane culture. Mix it with water and ice, and drink it while having mezze or seafood.

S for simitCrunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, simit is the iconic, sesame, circular bread seen everywhere throughout the city.

Simit

Ş for şalgamMade from turnips or black carrots, şalgam is a purple and red colored fermented beverage from southeastern Turkey that makes a good companion to kebab.

T for tarhanaTarhana is often known as an ingredient in ancient instant soup. The dried crumb is made of onions, tomato, red pepper, yogurt, flour, and various spices.

Y for Yemeksepeti – Yemeksepeti, Turkey’s biggest online food delivery platform, is an essential tool for many Istanbulites to survive the busy city life.

W for wild greens – Wild greens are a big deal here. Pay attention while visiting farmer’s markets and you will discover a variety of edible plants that you’ve never seen before.

Z for zeytinyağlılar – Zeytinyağlılar refers to various kinds of olive oil based dishes, mostly served cold. Try these refreshing tastes made with seasonal vegetables and beans in a lokanta or meyhane.