Hello, this is Andria writing, and this article is a sequel of our previous post School Break Holiday to Istanbul, Turkey.
For me, since I have passion on cooking, if I had an opportunity to visit a new place (city/country) seeing the sight is important but having an authentic food experience is also equally important :). As we were only 5 days in Istanbul, so with all the limitation that come along with that, here some of Turkish food that we were able to pin down:
I was falling in love with the Turkish tea. It’s black, thick, and strong. Yes, too strong to be served in the large cup so that is why it is always being served in a little clear tulip shape glass.
You may add sugar but no milk. Turkish tea or çay is prepared in çaydanlık, a small tea pot brewer on top a kettle.
The Turks love drinking çay, at least one a day, from breakfast to the end of dinner and anytime of the day in between. That is why, it is easy to find the tea house or tea garden in Istanbul (or I believe in all over the country). Tea is an important part of Turkish culture. Offering tea to guests is part or symbol of the Turkish hospitality.
Turkish street vendors.
In Nicosia, Cyprus, where live now, street vendor is rarely found. In fact, it is almost not part of the food culture except on some special events ( such as Christmas Bazaar or you may found one or two in Old city- tourist area). But in Istanbul, though they are still not as many as that in Jakarta (Indonesia) or Bangkok (Thailand), you may always find at least one of them on every street. What do they offer?
The 1st word I leaned in Turk is Nar Suju means Pomegranate Juice. The fresh-pressed pomegranate juice is easily found everywhere in Istanbul. Fresh, delicious, healthy and considered cheap. 5 TL (2 $) per cup in tourist area but and even only 1 TL per cup in local market.
Simit is the Turkish bagel. It’s a ring-shaped savory roll cover with sesame, slightly crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. You can eat plain or with jam, chocolate spread or yogurt. Simit is always a part on breakfast but also snacks at anytime.
Misir and Kestane
Misir and Kestane are popular snacks among the Turks.
Kestane is roasted chesnut and Mısır is corn on the cob either boiled or grilled, often sprinkled with salt, Please note: Misir is not sweet corn.
Your trip to Istanbul wouldn’t complete without eating Kofte – the Turkish meatball – and Doner-Kebab. Those food are relatively cheap. With 5 TL (2 USD) you can get Kebab and it’s enough to make you stuffed. As I also often confuse between doner and kebab, Here you’ll find an overview of the different of kebabs.
Who is not in appetite when looking at those arrangement trays of delicious looking food? This is Slow-cooked Turkish Fast Food. Looks similar with Warung Tegal in Indonesia or cafeteria, just simply pointed to a selection that you want. You can eat dine in or take away. Usually each portion is quite a lot hence for our family one portion of rice and one portion of chicken/fish curry for instance were enough for the three of us (yes, trust me!)
On the 4th day in Istanbul, we were craving for non-Turkish food and not American fast food. Yes, we needed Asian food. Then we went to HAN Restaurant for dinner. HAN sounds Chinese, isn’t it? When we sat down and read the menu, we realized it was a Turkish Restaurant-– Ottoman Cuisine. But we were too tired to move to other restaurants and decided to give a shot.
It was indeed a good choice. It was a very nice restaurant, very good in welcoming customer though rather slowed in food service. The food is delicious but expensive (read: over price – 90 TL for Pasta Carbonara, Curry, Gozleme and mineral water.).
If you have seen the ‘Narnia’ movie, do you remember the scene when Edmund ate the “sweet treats” offered by The White Witch? Yes, the sweets treats was the Turkish Delight, but it’s enchanted, so he wanted more and more and more. Turkish Delight is also known as Lokum. There are a lot varieties of lokum, depending on the ingredients: walnut, orange, pistachio, pomegranate, coconut, hazelnut, and many more, but the most traditional one is powdered chewy cubes with rosewater flavor.
If you stay in SultanAhmet area, there are many Turkish Delights shops. You can choose which one that you like most. Also in the Spice Market, as you walk through the market, you will feast your eyes on the piles of Turkish delight and the seller will offer you a sample to taste. (We like pomegranate with pistachio and also Orange jelly flavor for kids).
The last thing that we want to share is Turkey Breakfast. Either traditional or modern Turks , they are usually has tomatoes, olive oil, white cheese, bread, and çay for breakfast.
This picture is buffet standard Turkish breakfast that we had (or you might have); Turkish bread, butter, jam, honey, variety of olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, variety of fresh sliced cheese, yogurt, cold processes meat, egg, juice, cakes coffee and tea.
Though they served a lot of choices, these were our favorites:
1. Borek Sigara. Made of thin flaky dough called Phyllo – like pastry dough- filled with cheese and rolled like cigarette.
2. Menemen: Turkish scrambled egg cooked with tomatoes, green peppers and cheese. Super delicious!!!
3. Pomegrana fruit (the Juice was not available at the breakfast)
And finally, to end my story, here I share one of classic Turkish breakfast recipe: Menemen.
- 4 large eggs lighty wisked,
- 2 green peppers halved, seeded and chopped
- 2 large tomatoes diced
- 1 small spring onion
- ½ cup of feta cheese (or other white cheese, mozzarella would be great)
- 4 tbsp olive oil, pinch salt, pinch ground black pepper
- Grab your frying pan, heat oil and add onion, cook on medium heat until they’re soft.
- Add fresh peppers and wait until begin soften.
- Pour the diced tomatoes, salt, and pepper, cook for 3-5 minutes. Pour the eggs and keep stirring till eggs are scrambled. Make sure your mixture doesn’t get to dry, usually it a a bit under-cook.
- The last, sprinkle the white cheese over the eggs.
- Menemen is ready to enjoyed. Would be perfect if served with bread.
Thank you for reading and I hope you make it to Istanbul sometime and experience the wonderful food.