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Travel Guide 2   >   Turkey   >   Recipes


Turkish Recipes

Turkey's unique geographical position, at the junction of the continents of Asia and Europe has had a strong influence on the country's history and cuisine. It should also be remembered that Turkey was once the center of the Ottoman Empire which included territories across the Middle East, in North Africa, and as well as in Southern Europe. The Ottomans had influences with many different peoples and cultures, and were thus able to combine influences from Arab and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as Armenian cuisine, Greek cuisine and and Persian cuisine with traditional Turkic elements such as the use of yogurt in many dishes.

Modern Turkey may no longer encompass the vast amount of territory that the Ottoman Empire once ruled, but it is still a country of many distinct regions, each with their own unique flavors and culinary traditions. These include:
  • Southeastern Turkey, including the regions around the city of Adana, is famous for kebabs and mezes, as well as desserts such as baklava, kadayif and künefe.

  • Central parts of Anatolia, including the capital city, Ankara, is known for both sweet and savory pastry dishes.

  • Those regions of Turkey which lie near the Black Sea coast are known for corn and anchovies.

  • The area around the Sea of Marmara (including Istanbul), as well as the regions on the Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea coasts, incorporate typically Mediterranean styles into their food, and make extensive use of olive oil in cooking.
Here are some popular Turkish dishes:
  • Iskembe Çorbasi - A soup made from tripe (the stomaches of cattle). It is seasoned with vinegar and lemon juice.

  • Domates - Tomato soup.

  • Tarhana - Tarhana is a a dried food, prepared by creating a fermented mixture of cracked wheat, yogurt and vegetables. Because of its dryness and acidity, Tarhana preserves extremely well. When eaten, Tarhana is usually made into a soup. Today ready forms of Tarhana can be found as "quick soups" in many stores - simply add hot water.

  • Hummus - A dip or spread made from ground chickpeas with sesame tahini (ground sesame seeds), lemon juice and garlic. It is often eaten as a side dish or appetizer, frequently with pide (Turkish pita) bread.

  • Cacik - Cacik is the Turkish variant of Tzatziki - A cold dish made with yogurt, cucumber, dried mint and olive oil.


  • Kuskus - The Turkish version of Couscous.

  • Dolma - Stuffed vegetables. Dolma can be made using minced (ground) meat ("kiyma") with onions, rice and spices and served hot, or made using vegetables and served at room temperature.

  • Börek - Dough stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables.

  • Gözleme - A savory pastry made by thinly rolling dough and repeatedly folding. It is then filled and browned in a pan. There are many different variations, each with their own names, including Etli (meat filling), Ispanakli (spinach), Karisik (mixed filling), Katmer (plain), Kiymali (ground lamb), Mantarli (mushrooms), Patatesli (mashed potatoes) and Peynirli (filled with feta cheese).

  • Lahmacun - Flat round pieces of dough, covered with ground (minced) meat - beef or lamb. It is served rolled up, with vegetables (onions, tomatoes, peppers, etc.) or pickles, and is often called "Turkish pizza"

  • Manti - A Turkish pasta made from dough balls filled with ground (minced) meat. It is served with yogurt, flavored with herbs and spices, and warmed in olive oil or butter.

  • Keskek - A stew made from meat and barley or wheat.

  • Karniyarik - A dish made with eggplant (aubergine), ground (minced) meat, tomatoes, onions and garlic.

  • Patlican salatasi - "Patlican salatasi" is Turkish for "eggplant salad". Basically the dish is cooked aubergine that is allowed to cool to room temperature, and then mixed with either lemon juice and garlic, or with yogurt, olive oil and garlic.

    Patlican salatasi

  • Imam bayildi - Literally translated from Turkish, "imam bayildi" means "the imam fainted". The dish is actually somewhat similar to karniyarik, containing eggplant (aubergine), tomatoes, onions and garlic, but does not contain meat.

  • Patlican begendi - Another eggplant (aubergine) dish. This is a hot dish which as well as eggplant also contains meat, cheese, milk and flour.

  • Menemen - Eggs with green peppers, onions and tomatoes.

  • Döner kebap - Literally translated from Turkish, "döner kebap" means "turning roast". Döner kebap is meat (beef, lamb, mutton or chicken may be used) cooked on a rotating spit, and served in a sandwich made from pide (Turkish pita) bread. Today döner kebap is a popular fast food around the world, and salad and sauces are often added to inside the pide - this idea was invented by the Turkish community in Germany who wanted to broaden the dish's appeal.

  • Bursa kebab - This dish is known by many names. It was originally invented by Iskender Iskenderoglu and initially called "Iskender kebap" (which is a trademark), but variants are found in many Turkish restaurants around the world. Grilled lamb slices, cooked in the same fasion as döner kebap, are basted with tomato sauce and layed over pide (pita) bread, then covered with melted butter and yogurt.

  • Adana kebap - A long grilled kebab made from minced lamb, originally from the city of Adana, where it is known as "kiyma kebabi".

    Bursa kebab

  • Shish kebab - Grilled chicken or lamb, marinated and cooked on a skewer over an open fire. Lamb from milk-fed lambs is particularly favored.

  • Arnavut cigeri - Fried liver.

  • Köfte - Meatballs made from ground (minced) meat mixed with bread and egg. There are lots of different versions of this dish including "Çig köfte" which contains raw ground (minced) meat, and "kadinbudu köfte" which contains rice (and cooked meat).

  • Mahmudiye - This dish has its origins in the Ottoman Imperial court. It is chicken with almonds, apricots, black pepper, currants and honey.

  • Sujuk - A traditional Turkish cured sausage made from ground (minced) beef with spices. The sausage is prepared using a process involving drying for several weeks. Before eating, sujuk is cooked - it is popular both for breakfast and as a form of fast food (often eaten with bread).
As well as savory dishes, there are also a wide variety of excellent Turkish desserts and sweet dishes. These include:
  • Lokum - Turkish delight.

  • Helva - A traditional sweet made from semolina, tahin (sesame seed paste), wheat flour.

  • Baklava - Perhaps the most famous Turkish dessert. Baklava is a sweet pastry dessert made with phyllo dough, filled with pistachios or chopped walnuts, and finally sweetened with honey or syrup.


  • Kadaif - Kadaif is the name given to a variety of different desserts made from shredded dough or phyllo pastry. There are a huge variety of different types of kadaif available - but look out for "künefe" - a version which contains melted cheese and is served hot with walnuts and pistachios.
Here are some recipe books and cookbooks for Turkish food:

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Books about Turkish Cooking and Recipes

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The Turkish Cookbook

By Musa Dagdeviren

Phaidon Press
Released: 2019-04-01
Hardcover (512 pages)

The Turkish Cookbook
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Product Description:

The definitive cookbook of hearty, healthy Turkish cuisine, from the leading authority on Turkey's unique food traditions, Musa Dagdeviren, as featured in the Netflix docuseries Chef's Table

Vibrant, bold, and aromatic, Turkish food – from grilled meats, salads, and gloriously sweet pastries to home-cooking family staples such as dips, pilafs, and stews – is beloved around the world. This is the first book to so thoroughly showcase the diversity of Turkish food, with 550 recipes for the home cook that celebrate Turkey's remarkable European and Asian culinary heritage – from little-known regional dishes to those that are globally recognized and stand the test of time, be they lamb kofte, chicken kebabs, tahini halva, or pistachio baklava.

Turkish Delights: Stunning Regional Recipes from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea

By John Gregory-Smith

Kyle Cathie Limited
Released: 2016-10-21
Hardcover (240 pages)

Turkish Delights: Stunning Regional Recipes from the Bosphorus to the Black Sea
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  • Kyle Cathie Limited
Product Description:
A celebration of the best of Turkish food, full of exciting flavours and ideas.

In Turkish Delights John Gregory-Smith brings his passion for Turkey and its food to your kitchen. He celebrates the best of the country's traditional food with 100 regional dishes, giving each one his simple, modern spin.

Forget greasy late-night doner kebabs, John offers the Iskender kebab from the city of Bursa in Northwest Turkey, filled with finely sliced tender lamb, hot tomato and garlic sauce and yogurt.

Other tempting dishes include the Ilgin Beef Kofta (pepper and parsley spiked beef from the Central Anatolian region) or his Ottoman-inspired Stuffed Pepper Dolma.

With chapters on Breakfast, Meze, Pide and Kofta, Kebabs, Salads, Meat, Seafood, Vegetables and Desserts and Drinks, it is crammed full of exciting flavours and inspiring ideas.

Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking

By Joy E. Stocke

Burgess Lea Press
Hardcover (256 pages)

Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking
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  • Burgess Lea Press
Product Description:

Explore the refined flavors and seductive aromas of the Turkish table with Tree of Life. These are tastes that can't be found anywhere else on Earth.

When Joy Stocke and Angie Brenner first met on the balcony of a guesthouse in a small resort town on the Mediterranean coast, they discovered a shared love of history, literature, and local food traditions. The two new friends set off on a cultural adventure tour of Turkey that spanned ten years. Returning home to their respective American kitchens, they couldn't help but call upon the flavors of Anatolia as a kind of culinary souvenir, and incorporate that sensibility into the food they cook every day for themselves, family, and friends.

Based on the memoir Anatolian Days and NightsTree of Life presents more than 100 accessible recipes inspired by Turkish food traditions found in the authors' travels. These thoughtful adaptations of authentic dishes draw on readily available ingredients while featuring traditional techniques.

Just a small selection of recipes in Tree of Life include:

  • Circassian Chicken
  • Carrot Hummus with Toasted Fennel Seeds
  • Spice-Route Moussaka
  • Weeknight Lamb Manti
  • Stuffed Grape Leaves
  • Black Sea Hazelnut Baklava
  • Much more


Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the America

By Ayla E. Algar

William Morrow Cookbooks
Released: 2013-07-30
Kindle Edition (320 pages)

Classical Turkish Cooking: Traditional Turkish Food for the America
Product Description:

Turkish food is one of the world's great cuisines. Its taste and depth place it with French and Chinese; its simplicity and healthfulness rank it number one. Turkish-born Ayla Algar offers 175 recipes for this vibrant and tasty food, presented against the rich and fascinating backdrop of Turkish history and culture. Tempting recipes for kebabs, pilafs, meze (appetizers), dolmas (those delicious stuffed vegetables or vine leaves), soups, fish, manti and other pasta dishes, lamb, poultry, yogurt, bread, and traditional sweets such as baklava are introduced here to American cooks in accessible form. With its emphasis on grains, vegetables, fruits, olive oil, and other healthful foods, Turkish cooking puts a new spin on familiar ingredients and offers culinary adventure coupled with satisfying and delicious meals.

The Complete Book Of Turkish Cooking: All The Ingredients, Techniques And Traditions Of An Ancient Cuisine

By Ghillie Basan

Paperback (256 pages)

The Complete Book Of Turkish Cooking: All The Ingredients, Techniques And Traditions Of An Ancient Cuisine
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  • Hermes House UK
Product Description:
Discover classic and modern Turkish cooking in more than 150 authentic recipes, shown step by step in 800 sumptuous photographs.

The Turkish Cookbook: Regional Recipes and Stories

By Nur Ilkin

Brand: Interlink Pub Group
Paperback (368 pages)

The Turkish Cookbook: Regional Recipes and Stories
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Product Description:

Healthful and tantalizing, simple and delicious, Turkish cuisine is well on its way to becoming the next big trend in cooking as more and more attention is being paid to it as the original Mediterranean diet

Turkey has made an enduring contribution to the world's cuisine with its diverse and important gastronomic history and classic-simple yet rich in flavors - cuisine. Turkish cuisine is a mosaic, a colorful cuisine enriched by the recipes and techniques of many ancient cultures-Phoenician, Hittite, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Persian, Chinese, and Greek - and the creativity of the cooks and the geography of the regions they lived in.

Inspired by the best of regional cooking, this unique and masterful collection of recipes shares a rediscovery of timeless authentic, healthful, refreshing, and easy-to-prepare Turkish dishes - from classics to lesser known family favorites, and even lost recipes. Written with a zest for food and culture, this book is packed with the delights of Turkey's regions, from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, from Europe to Asia, the Aegean to Anatolia.

Using only the healthiest and freshest ingredients-from fresh fruits and yogurt to vegetables, fish, poultry, and meat - the regional recipes are cooked in an infinite variety of ways, with exciting flavor and texture combinations. Eggplant alone can be prepared in more than 40 different ways. In areas where fish, meat or poultry weren't available, cooks created outstanding recipes that utilized grains, pulses, and vegetables. Since Turkish cooking requires no special equipment or unusual ingredients it is generally very easy to prepare.


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