Considered as the third richest cuisine after the French and the Chinese gastronomy Turkish cuisine is a crossroads between Europe, Asia, and the Orient. The unique location combined with the migration of Turks from Central Asia to Europe has shaped the identity of its gastronomy over the centuries and hoping to do justice to the magical cuisine of the Ottoman’s we present our list of 10 Turkish dishes that will help you cruise through your final lockdown.
1. Imam Bayildi
Patlican, eggplants, or aubergines are one of the most popular vegetables (actually fruit, as it has seeds in it) in Turkey; we must have over 200 recipes showcasing our beloved patlican, the eggplant. I love this classic Turkish dish, Imam Bayildi or “Imam Fainted”, one of the most popular eggplant dishes at home. Legend says “Imam Fainted” either due to the shock or the pleasure at the quantity of the olive oil used in this dish! No doubt, eggplant loves olive oil and tastes so good in this Imam Bayildi.Click here for the recipe: Imam Bayildi
Lahmacun is thin and crispy flatbread bursting with flavour. Topped with meat, parsley, peppers, tomatoes and a mixture of delicious spices, this pizza-like Turkish recipe is a must-try. Lahmacun is one of the most popular Turkish fast foods! It is a super-thin flatbread topped with a spicy ground beef or lamb mixture. Put some onions, salad and parsley on it, squeeze lemon over these and roll it up. YUM!
3. Mercimek koftesi
Also known as vegan lentil meatballs, is a common Turkish dish that’s a staple in many Turkish households. Considered a cold mezze dish, Mercimek can be served alongside other cold mezzes such as labneh, hummus, muhammara and baba ganoush. They are served cold and they’re perfect for a tasty appetizer or even a quick lunch.Click here for the recipe: Mercimek Koftesi
This yoghurt dip is served chilled and it is used for virtually everything from various appetizers to main dishes. It pairs especially well with classic Turkish meat fare such as köfte and kebabs of all kinds. As a side dish, cacık is typically enjoyed in place of a salad, diluted with water and eaten with a spoon, like soup. Found in various forms throughout Turkey and the former Ottoman countries, cacık is a refreshing sauce made with strained or diluted yoghurt mixed with finely chopped cucumbers and minced garlic. It is traditionally flavoured with olive oil, dill weed, mint, either lemon juice or vinegar, and sometimes even oregano, thyme, sumac, and paprika.Click here for the recipe: Cacik
5. Nohut Salatasi
A vibrant and tasty salad which is the perfect accompaniment to any meal, this chickpea salad is rich in protein and a perfect snack on its own as well, however, the creamy feta, sharp onion and lemon add a zing to any meal no matter how casual or uptown. If you ever find yourself struggling to choose a quick yet impressive entree to any dinner party this dish is your answer.Click here for the recipe: Nohut Salatasi
6. Fasulye Pilaki
Fasulye Pilaki is a delicious and wholesome vegetarian Turkish mezze, where vegetables and white beans (or cannellini) are cooked with onions, garlic, carrots and potatoes in olive oil. As in the case with our Zeytinyagli dishes, the category in Turkish cuisine where we cook vegetables in olive oil, we add a little sugar to balance the flavours. Pilaki is served cold or at room temperature, garnished with parsley and wedges of lemon; the tangy, refreshing lemon juice is really a must-have and complements this beans based mezze very well.
Pro tip: This cold bean stew tastes even better the next day as the flavours mature. You can serve fasulye pilaki as a side to grilled fish, meat or vegetables.
Click here for the recipe: Fasulye Pilaki
7. Etli Pilav
Etli Pilav is essentialy rice cooked with chunks of meat and onions; it is common to add meat and vegetables into the rice. Flavours vary in different regions, with the use of different spices. It is very interesting to see how Etli Pilav is made at the Aegean region in comparison to the Mevlubi – rice with marinated meat, eggplant, onions and potatoes cooked in Southern Turkey.Click here for the recipe: Etli Pilav
8. Firinda Sebzeli Kofte
Wonderful all in one pot dish to please the family – Firinda Sebzeli Kofte is a great option if you are doing a weekly meal prep and freezing in portions. Again, use any veg you can get hold of; I add a can of cooked (and rinsed) chickpeas for extra nutrition and bulk it up too. If preferred, keep it vegetarian without the meatballs, and include cooked chickpeas or beans instead.
Click here for the recipe: Firinda Sebzeli Kofte
9. Sehriyeli Sebze Corbasi
Soup has a special place in Turkish cuisine; traditionally meals always start with a soup. A hearty soup can be the main course itself with some nice crusty bread next to it for some. I made this lovely Turkish vegetable soup with orzo pasta today and it went down very well. Orzo pasta or “sehriye” as they call it in Turkish fits in this soup very well, thickens the broth beautifully and makes it substantial. Being a lemon fan, I give a generous squeeze, with plenty of red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper over the soup for a delicious heat, when serving. You can also crumble some feta cheese over the top before serving if you’d like too. For a gluten-free option, you can use rice instead of orzo pasta.Click here for the recipe: Sehriyeli Sebze Corbasi
10. Portakalli Revani
Turks love Revani, a deliciously moist semolina sponge cake in light syrup. There are many versions of Revani and traditionally when made with orange, often the zest of orange and in some cases, orange juice is used in the recipe in Turkey. Thinly sliced oranges are cooked in syrup, as well as the fresh orange juice in the cake batter. Grainy semolina and ground almond give a light, moist texture to the cake and the syrupy orange slices laid on top of the cake will make this dessert the star of any post-covid dinner party you are planning.