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.
D for dolma – Common 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.
İ for işkembe çorbası –Best 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 lahmacun – Lahmacun 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 mantı – Similar to dumplings and ravioli but smaller in size, mantı is a comfort food served with spices, yogurt, and garlic sauce.
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 pastırma – Pastırma 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 simit – Crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, simit is the iconic, sesame, circular bread seen everywhere throughout the city.
Ş for şalgam – Made 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 tarhana – Tarhana 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.