Turkish gastronomy, cuisine, dishes

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Turkish gastronomy, cuisine, dishes. When we talk about the best gastronomies in the world, we cannot fail to mention Turkish gastronomy, in general, it is at the level of French, Chinese and Italian. Like the cultural mosaic of Turkey, its food is very colorful and includes many different influences and tastes.

Turkish gastronomy has evolved over the centuries, influenced by a rich history of lands that were home to the first Byzantine and later the Ottoman empires.

It is a complex cuisine where specific tastes in different regions of this country contribute, thanks to the availability of multiple Turkish foods in many of its regions, they also helped shape common foods in specific areas of Turkey.

For example, the eastern region of the Black Sea is not adequate to produce wheat due to heavy rains, which is why its residents developed dishes based mainly on corn and corn flour.

On the other hand, the southeastern part of Anatolia is very famous for kebabs, for having an abundance of livestock. Also, in the Aegean region, it is known for its olive production and there you can taste the famous vegetable dishes with herbs based on olive oil, while pastries are the monopoly of Thrace.

Istanbul is a region that has also attracted a large number of immigrants from other parts of Turkey, who often move to the city in search of employment.

Due to this reason, Istanbul has become the cultural heart of the country, and it is for this reason that it shares the most delicious Turkish foods from each region in its gastronomy.

Characteristics of Turkish gastronomy

Next, we will mention the main characteristics that stand out in Turkish gastronomy:

The breakfast

Turks tend to eat a very nutritious breakfast. There they usually use the following ingredients such as: cheese, olives, eggs, butter, cucumbers, tomatoes, jams, honey, sucuk, kaymak, muhummara, börek, poğaça, pastirma.

Similarly, they eat soups in the morning. They also have a breakfast specialty called menemen, which is made with green peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, onion and eggs.

In their morning menu they also consume the famous kuymak or as it is called in other provinces (yağlaş, muhlama or mihlama), which is made up of various melted aged cheeses and is served with corn flour. As a drink, they ingest Turkish tea to aid digestion.

Home cooking

The favorite dishes of the Turks are those made at home, although the new way of life pushes the new generations to eat out; The people of this country generally prefer to eat at home.

A traditional meal begins with a soup, followed by a plate of vegetables, meat or legumes boiled in a pot often with Turkish pilav, pasta or bulgur pilav, accompanied by salad or cacik.

For the summer, many people choose to eat a cold dish of vegetables cooked with olive oil, instead of soup, either before or after the main dish, which can be meat, fish or chicken.

Summer kitchen

Summers in Turkey are very hot, and locals often eat meals made with vegetables, whether they are aubergines, potatoes or peppers served with yogurt or tomato sauce. The summer dishes are çılbır and menemen and they are made with eggs.

Other foods that the Turks usually eat in summer are watermelons, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese and melons. For lovers of desserts, helva is usually consumed at this time, since it is lighter and less sweet than usual.

Ingredients used

The most commonly used ingredients in Turkish cuisine are: beef, lamb, fish, rice, eggplant, onions, green peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, beans, lentils, garlic.

On the other hand, nuts such as pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, chestnuts and walnuts, along with other spices, have a very special place in Turkish cuisine, since these ingredients are widely used in the preparation of desserts.

The restaurants

Although fast food is becoming more popular every day and many fast food chains have opened in Turkey, the people of this country depend on the extensive and rich dishes of Turkish cuisine.

Additionally, some typical dishes, especially midye, kumpir, köfte, börek, tava, döner, gözleme and kokoreç, are being served as fast food in Turkey. Eating out is common in big cities, it is widespread and you can get homemade Turkish cuisine at affordable prices.

Turkish gastronomy, characteristics
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Turkish gastronomy, characteristics

History of Turkish gastronomy

In Turkey you can appreciate the diverse gastronomic culture that is due to its native products of the lands, where its inhabitants have lived throughout history. Since Neolithic times, the Turkish nomads lived on diets based on yogurt, meat and wheat, they made their living by raising cattle.

When their living conditions began to deteriorate, they moved to Anatolia, where the Seljuk state was formed. In this town the Turks managed to discover new ingredients that led them to prepare more varied dishes and to use new cooking methods.

Seljuk era

There are many records about the Turkish gastronomy of the eleventh century, there the Seljuks enjoyed large banquets where the etiquette and table manners of the old and the young stood out.

Ottoman Empire

When the Seljuks of Anatolia disappeared, the Ottoman Empire began to be established, which became the basis of modern Turkish cuisine.

In the 13th century, the Mevlanas of Sufi mysticism regarded the kitchen as an important place, so much so that members of the lodges faced tests of tolerance and patience within the kitchen.

At that time a very refined diet was implemented, where Turkish culinary techniques evolved, during the reign of the Ottomans and the tables that were once modest, became elaborate banquets.

After Sultan Mehmet II conquered Constantinople (what is now known as Istanbul) in 1453, in his palace he focused his attention on culinary matters and new ingredients such as seafood and fish were added to the Ottoman diet.

Typical dishes of Turkish gastronomy

There are several typical dishes that represent the gastronomy of Turkey, below, we will mention some of the most renowned dishes:

  • Baklava: it is a dessert that dates back to the Ottoman Empire, it is the most emblematic of all and the favorite of those with a sweet tooth.
  • It is a cake that is made in layers, filled with walnuts and covered with syrup and ground pistachios, making this an exquisite Mediterranean dessert.
  • In any establishment such as supermarkets or bakeries you can find this cake, but they are better when they are freshly baked.
  • Şiş kebap: The term “kebab” encompasses a wide variety of street foods, but one of the most popular is skewered şiş kebap.
  • This dish is made with lamb or beef and nowadays you can choose a diverse selection between fish, meat and poultry, as well as vegetarian options, grilled or on wooden or metal skewers.
  • Döner: it is another famous kebab, which can also be found with a selection of a wide variety of meats, but it is seasoned with spices and cooked on a vertical spit that rotates, the cuts of this dish are served in a wrap of bread, along with hot sauce, salad and garlic.
  • Köfte: this dish is about Turkish meatballs that come in different sizes and shapes, they can be eaten as street sandwiches that are spread in natural yogurt or also with rice or salad.
  • In different regions of the country they have named their different varieties, including Izgara Köfte which is served with roasted peppers, bread and rice, as well as Çiğ Köfte, which is eaten raw.
  • Ask: this time we will talk about Turkish pizza. It is made with a flat dough base covered with cheese, and a wide variety of vegetables and meats that are usually heated in a stone oven.
  • The choice of ingredients for this type of pizza is unlimited, which makes this dish and the delicious lahmacun, ideal for diners and vegetarians.
  • Kumpir: this food is not only economical but it is very nutritious, it is a crispy baked potato that has a choice of very delicious fillings.

Spices used in Turkish gastronomy

One of the reasons why Turkish cuisine is the favorite of many people is because of the use of spices and fine herbs that make up the delicious flavors of its gastronomy.

Exquisite aromas are not only obtained in their dishes, these herbs are also very beneficial for health.

In the following list we will name some of the most popular herbs and spices that are usually tasted in Turkish gastronomy:

  • Thyme: this plant is a herb with a strong aroma that grows in almost all areas of Anatolia and is collected in the mountains, it is widely used in Turkish cuisine, whether crushed or dried.
  • Red pepper flakes: this spice is very popular as it adds a spectacular aroma and a slightly bitter taste to foods.
  • Mint: thanks to its refreshing flavor and intense essence, this herb is a favorite, since it is widely used in salads, cold juices, sandwiches, stuffed vegetables and dishes with yogurt.
  • Black pepper: all over the world this spice is widely used, since black pepper manages to add a lot of flavor to any dish of Turkish cuisine.
  • Sumac: This spice is hot and sour, similar to lemon, and is widely used in Turkish cuisine.
  • Cumin: the spice that cannot be missing in this kitchen is cumin, thanks to its intense aromatic flavor it is used in many popular meat dishes and in köfte.
  • Bay leaf: before using it in dishes, they are collected and dried, to later season the preparations and give them aroma and flavor.
  • Cinnamon: This is an aromatic and sweet spice that has been used in Turkish cuisine since the Ottoman period. The flavors and smell of cinnamon are extremely strong and tend to change the style of any meal.
  • This spice can be found in powder or branches.
  • Rosemary: This herb is obtained from the leaves of a Mediterranean dwarf tree. These leaves have a very pleasant smell and always have a green color.
  • Rosemary is widely used in Turkish gastronomy, where both dry and fresh pointed leaves are used.
  • Cloves: This spice is obtained when the small dark spike-shaped buds of the clove flower are dried. Cloves play an integral role in Turkish cuisine.

Turkish gastronomy desserts

Kadayif and baklava are sweet puff pastry and walnut cakes. All over the world they are known as the most traditional Turkish desserts. The baklava comes from the towns of Gaziantep and Urfa in southeastern Turkey.

The preparation of this dessert is with great care, from rolling the leaves as thinly as possible of phyllo dough to selecting and grinding the walnuts. Until the 90s, this dessert in Turkey was eaten a lot during celebrations, since it was served on sacrificial festivals and Ramadan.

In Turkish gastronomy there are also uni-foods such as katmer, which can be eaten as a dessert after dinner or during breakfast.

On the other hand, delicious milk-based puddings are often made, which usually complete Turkish meals. Most Turkish stores display puddings decorated with walnuts and crushed fruits such as ground pistachios.

The puddings are usually added to rose water, putty, vanilla, and fragrant pine resin. While dairy desserts are more homemade than syrupy ones due to their ease of preparation.

Due to the fact that fruits are cultivated in the long sunny months of Turkey, it is not surprising that melons, figs, citrus fruits and sultana grapes have been part of the desserts of Turkish gastronomy since ancient times.

One of the favorite desserts is simple spiced fruit compotes, eaten at the end of a hearty meal. In many Turkish homes, large jars of canned fruits cannot be missing from their pantries.

Another Turkish dessert that has a great variety is Asure, in which almost all types of grains, nuts and fruits of Turkey are used.

Main types of Turkish desserts

Syrupy desserts: this type of dessert is usually made with dough and sugar syrup is poured over them, the ones that stand out the most are: baklava, tulumba, sekerpare, kadayif, tas kadayif, irmik tatlisi, lokum, revani, lokma and burma .

Dairy desserts: this type of dessert is much lighter, compared to syrupy desserts, so they are easy to digest and eat. Among the desserts of this style are: sutlac, tavukgogsu, keskul, sakizli muhallebi, dondurma, kazandibi and gullac.

Fruit desserts: this dessert delight is one of the most natural for the fruits they have, among the desserts of this style we have: komposto, kabak tatlisi, ayva tatlisi, pestil and hosaf.

Turkish gastronomy drinks

Most people think that since Turkey is a country that practices Islam, alcoholic beverages are not very common in that country. However, as in other countries, these drinks are available in Turkey.

Beer and raki make up a large part of alcohol consumption in Turkey; Furthermore, this country has been producing wines in various regions for many years, and it is a practice that dates back thousands of years.

Two of the predominant non-alcoholic beverages in Turkey are: Turkish coffee and black tea. They also love consuming herbal teas, especially on winter days, among the flavors they use the most: chamomile, sage, peppermint, rosehip, tyme, ginger, etc.

Description of the drinks of Turkish gastronomy

Turkish tea: Turkish citizens love black tea, they consume many cups a day. This tea is always offered first to guests or visitors of all businesses or households.

Its preparation is done in a teapot, preferably porcelain; Turkish tea that is perfectly brewed should have a deep red color. In the same way, tea can be found served in porcelain cups in cafes and main hotels in Turkish cities.

Turks prefer to drink their tea in glass cups and although coffee is another fairly common drink in Turkey, nothing can replace a great cup of tea.

In Istanbul you can also find the tea gardens, which are outdoors and located in areas with excellent panoramic views. Fruit juices and other refreshing beverages are served there, as well as Turkish food.

There are very traditional tea gardens that serve tea in a semaver (metal kettle) even in some gardens you can find hookah to smoke and a variety of fruit flavored tobacco. For café goers, today’s most popular options are Moda and Emirgan Tea Gardens.

Turkish coffee: coffee in Turkey is served in small porcelain cups accompanied by a glass of water. It is not consumed while having breakfast, but the common thing is to enjoy a cup of coffee after meals or after something sweet.

This coffee is traditionally prepared in a small copper pot called cezve and is made by boiling finely ground coffee together with sugar and water.

The coffee is then served to taste without sugar (sade) or sweet (sekerli). When it is drunk, it should be sipped lightly, in order to leave the amount of coffee in the bottom of the cup.

Ayran: it is an extraordinary drink made from yogurt diluted with water, which is then salted and served cold. It is a drink highly appreciated by the Turks and is the ideal accompaniment to all meals, especially kebab and spicy foods.

Sahlep: on cold winter days this drink is usually enjoyed. It is made with dried and powdered roots of a mountain orchid. This powder is then mixed with sugar, milk and boiled.

These roots are rich in starch and thanks to this the mixture thickens naturally, resembling a creamy texture. It is generally served plain or with a sprinkle of cinnamon, but can still be found as a milk replacement for lattes and other coffees.

Turnip juice: this drink is bitter, it is crimson in color, it is prepared by boiling turnips and carrots in water, and additionally vinegar is added. It comes from Anatolia, relieves pain, upset stomach, and helps the body cope with the heat.

Additionally, it is used as a preferred accompaniment to some Turkish foods such as kebab, cigkofte and raki.

Boza: it is a thick drink with a light touch of acidity, it is made with water and crushed millet that is left to ferment. In winter is when this drink is enjoyed, some establishments serve it with chickpeas and cinnamon.

Raki: this is the best known of all among the alcoholic beverages of Turkey. It is one of the most enjoyed food accompaniments among the Turkish inhabitants.

The taste of this drink is similar to that of anise and contains a high degree of alcohol, so it cannot be consumed quickly. Most people enjoy raki that is colorless and mixed with water, making it a drink with a slightly cloudy color.

Also, this drink helps digestion, which is why it is known as a kind of snack.

Read also: Asian gastronomy

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