Exploring the local cuisine is a big part of traveling to a different country and experiencing a new culture. In Turkey’s case, the country is also hugely known for the little delights and unique beverages as much as the main dishes. If you’re planning a trip to Turkey, don’t miss out on the chance to try these treats!
Ayran is Turkey’s favourite summer drink. It’s traditionally made by mixing yoghurt with chilled or iced water, but you may find some places that also include salt in the ingredients. As weird as that might sound to you, drinking salty ayran is one of the few rapid ways to intake sodium during summer and avoid dehydration. Ayran is often served cold and is the perfect thirst quencher to beat the heat.
A Turkish staple, köfte is balls of ground meat (or sometimes ground vegetables) seasoned with onion, herbs, and spices. Köfte can be served stewed, in sandwiches, over salads, or plain with yogurt. In southern and southeastern Turkey, içli kofte with an outer shell of bulgur and minced meat and a filling of walnuts and spicy minced meat is a popular variation.
Nutty and syrupy, baklava is an old pastry with a history that roots back all the way to the pre-Ottoman days. Layered with filo and often topped in ground pistachios, baklava is sweet and unique, and should be eaten fresh! There are several ways to tell that the baklava is well-made – the crackling sound it makes when you sink your teeth into it, the creamy fresh butter smell, and the sweet taste.
Lokum, or Turkish Delight, is a family of nougaty confections based on a gel of starch and sugar served with a variety of flavours and fillings and often topped with powdered sugar. In Turkey, lokum can be found everywhere in great colourful pyramids, flavoured with melon and saffron, studded with hazelnuts and rolled in musky rose petals. Like most food, lokum is best eaten fresh since the pre-packaged versions tend to go too light on the fillings and too heavy on the sugar, which makes it dry.
Cay (pronounced as chai) refers to the Turkish black tea that’s often served in a tulip-shaped glass. Although Turkey is well-known for their strong Turkish coffee, the tea culture is huge in the country. The Turks don’t just drink for its taste, but also offer it as a token of hospitality. Surprisingly, tea only became common in Turkey from the 1900s onwards, but today it’s the second most consumed drink in Turkey after water.