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Turkish national cuisine – what dishes to try

Turkey smells of delicious food, sea and coffee. Juicy kebabs, ruddy pide and böreki with viscous cheese, fragrant desserts – the local cuisine will conquer anyone.  We have compiled the most detailed guide with photos, videos and descriptions of dishes. Such a guide to Turkish cuisine, which we ourselves lacked during our first trip to Istanbul. The names of dishes in Turkish and Russian will be useful in all-inclusive hotels and independent tourists.

Turkish breakfast

Almost every restaurant in Turkey has a menu item: “Turkish breakfast” / “turkish breakfast” / “kahvaltı”. Usually it can be ordered before noon, sometimes up to 14 hours. In tourist cafes, it will be prepared without any problems even in the evening – everything is for you.

A good price for a traditional Turkish breakfast is 25-35 liras per person. Drinks are usually not included. Do not rush to order one kahvaltı for each. We take one for two and eat very well. Sometimes we add an additional dish from the menu: menemen tomato omelet or shakshuka – fried eggs with cheese.

What does a Turkish breakfast consist of:

two or three types of eggs: boiled, fried eggs or scrambled eggs;
vegetables: fried potatoes, warm tomatoes, onions and peppers with olive oil, fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers;
Turkish sausage, sausages, 3-4 types of cheese;
snacks: olives, sometimes cold pastas or sandwich spreads like hummus;
pastries: pita, Turkish sesame bread or fresh bread – soft with a crispy crust, böreki with cheese;
sweets: butter for buns, 3-4 types of jam, chocolate paste, Turkish honey.

The composition may change. Sometimes they bring more cheese, but less pastries. Or they can put a mountain of olives instead of peppers. But overall, it’s about the same. Additionally, it is worth taking a couple of “tulips” of tea. In good restaurants in Istanbul, it costs about 1 lira per glass, on the coast – two.

Want to surprise your family with a Turkish breakfast? Bring olives, salted lemons, hummus, local jams, chocolate paste (budget alternative to Nutella), tortillas, pine honey from your trip. If you are flying nearby, buy white cheese and sujuk sausage in Turkey.

Watch our video from non-tourist restaurant Avsallar. We show what one portion of the traditional “small” kahvaltı looks like for 25 lira.


Even a novice cook can make a semolina dessert.
Required Ingredients:

Semolina – 200-250 g.
Butter – 200 g.
Milk – 500 ml.
Nuts – 50 g.
Sugar – 200 g.
Then pour semolina, add sugar, then pour the mixture with milk, stirring constantly with a spoon.As soon as the consistency becomes thicker, mix the mass again, then let it cool and spread the finished halva on plates.

With me

Turkish omelet is cooked in 15 minutes.
Of the products you need to have:

tomatoes – 200 g;
black pepper – to taste.
Heat the pan, add two types of oil, in which lightly fry the resulting vegetable mixture, salt and pepper it.
As soon as the vegetables are softened, add the eggs and constantly stir the contents of the pan with a spoon. It is necessary to ensure that the omelette remains moist at the time the fire is turned off – it should not be fried. The dish is served with fresh bread, which the Turks dip in hot menemen.

simple baking

In Turkey, even the usual white ekmek (ekmek) loaf is worth a try: crispy on the outside, softest on the inside. Buy from a bakery, shop or street vendor. It is always “today’s”, sometimes still warm. Turks buy 2-3 ekmeks per family daily. Sliced bread in bags is almost never eaten.

3 most popular Turkish pastry snacks:

Simit | Simit (pictured). A real bagel champion.  Crispy outside, soft inside, ruddy. Turkish bagel with sesame is good in its pure form. Especially with a glass of sweet tea! For the sake of tourists in Istanbul, it is often sold with additives: cheese, chocolate paste, butter or jam.
Bazlama | Bazlam. Round Turkish flatbread. Often lush, but empty inside. It is served for breakfast with butter. And street vendors in Istanbul love to cut the flatbread lengthwise to fill it with cheese or other stuffing.
Pide Ekmek | Pide Ekmek. Plain fresh pita. In Turkey, the flatbread is used to serve kebabs.

Layer cake – borek

This Turkish delicacy can be tasted in any part of Istanbul, and almost everywhere it will be prepared in different ways. Borek is a pie stuffed with the finest puff pastry.

Turks like to start the day with this dish, eating it for breakfast. We also think that this is a great snack that goes perfectly with Turkish tea or coffee.

Dough dishes

Turkish cuisine is famous for its pastries.  We have compiled the most understandable guide to “Turkish pizzas” pide, tortillas and bereks. The kind that we ourselves lacked during our first trip to Istanbul.

Lahmacun | Lahmacun

Be sure to try 3 types of cakes: Turks often bake them at home for the family, and tourists can buy them at bazaars, from street vendors or restaurants.

Lahmacun | Lahmacun (pictured). Minced meat, sweet and hot peppers, a little garlic and herbs are laid out on a thin cake resembling a pancake. All this is soaked in tomato sauce or sprinkled with fresh tomatoes. Served with lemon. Sprinkle the tortilla before eating – it tastes better.

Etli ekmek | Etli ekmek. It translates as “meat loaf”. In fact, this is a freshly baked Turkish pita bread sprinkled with minced meat. Lots of meat, little dough. Juicy!
Gozleme | Gözleme. A popular Turkish dish that is prepared in almost every home. The dough is rolled out very thin. Then they fill it with minced meat with cheese, spinach with feta, eggs with kaimak, potatoes, mushrooms or something else. The most delicious “Turkish pancakes” gozleme can be tasted in the bazaars.

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