Food Offered at Turkish Restaurants
Did you know that the Turkish culture is one of the few cultures around the world where it is only considered hospitable when the host pays for the meal? In fact, the concept of guests paying or even splitting the bill is totally unknown and unaccepted. Only way to repay the host is to treat him some other day. This hospitable culture is still prevalent in Turkish restaurants around the world.
Turkish Restaurants: The Food
Turkey has many cuisines and food specialties that make up the tasty menus at the many Turkish restaurants in various parts of the world. Although the local food and flavor always blend into cooking, yet a standard Turkish menu would include the following dishes under each sub-category:
- Beverages: The beverages would range from alcoholic to non-alcoholic drinks. Alcohol is widely consumed by followers of Islam and Turkish restaurants serve alcohol and their home blended Turkish wine and lager. The traditional beverage flavored by anise, known as Raki, is also a popular choice amongst guests. For non-alcoholic beverages, these restaurants offer Aryan, a milk drink along with kefir seeds, and Boza, which is a water based cinnamon flavored winter drink.
- Appetizers: Starters in Turkish restaurants are known as Meze, which are generally accompanied by drinks. They can range from meat to stuffed rolls, known as Sarma. Another famous offering by the Turkish restaurants is known as Dolma. These are fruit rolls that have minced meat stuffed into them. Other forms of appetizers include various kinds of kebabs and grilled fish, served with many kinds of yogurts, gravy and dry fruits. While Turkish restaurants serve them as appetizers, they can be used for the main course as well.
- Main Course: The food style of Turkish cuisine has developed over the years, bringing together many styles of cooking. A main course with meat would most often have lamb as the meat, while sea food would primarily consist of fish. Vegetarian dishes include stew made out of green vegetables in a white curry. Other dishes are made out of Balvir instead of rice, as part of the main course to be served in various Turkish restaurants.
- Deserts: Turkish restaurants offer a wide range of savory and sweet pastries. A well loved dessert from Turkey is the Baklava. Made with dry-fruits, pistachio or walnut, it is a sweet dish that has various combinations to it. These variations are a part of localization. Another renowned dessert is the Haytali, which is from the Mediterranean region. This dish is a combination of dough, ice cream and rose water.
Turkish cuisine is one of the few cuisine styles in the world that has such vast variety of ingredients and flavors. The food style has everything from vegetables stews to meat and sea food. For the best experience, choose Turkish restaurants carefully.
Top 5 Vegan Turkish Foods
For the unfamiliar, Turkish food often means meat and kebabs, but did you know it’s actually quite easy to find stress free vegan food in Turkey, or even close to home, in a Turkish restaurant.
If you are ready to expand your palette, then here’s five delicious and purely vegan Turkish food to watch out for on your next visit.
1. Menemen (Turkish Omelet)
If you don’t mind eating egg with your vegan diet, the Menemen is a tasty Turkish dish to try out. It’s essentially a Turkish omelet that’s spicy and filled with healthy onions, tomatoes and green peppers. In Turkey, this is considered a breakfast meal and often sold right around bus stations or diners. Like most Turkish dishes, better get plenty of bread to go with this so you can enjoy and soak up the leftover juices as well.
2. Gözleme – (Crepe)
The Gözleme isn’t the most common Turkish food out there, especially if you head out to a restaurant but if they do serve this then go for it. The Gözleme is a flavorless Turkish crepe that comes stuffed with oodles of veggies. There are quite a few varieties; it can be stuffed with spinach (ispnakli) or potatoes (patatesli.) If you are a strict vegan and avoid dairy products, make sure to ask for a gozleme that has no cheese (peynirsiz.)
3. Cig Kofte (Raw Meatballs)
Don’t freak out. I assure you there’s no meat in this next dish. Yes, the name is quite deceptive but until recently, Cig Kofte was made using traditional meat. However, if you visit Turkey, meaty cig kofte are quite uncommon and sometimes even banned. The spicy vegetarian variety, however, is probably the only thing you’ll encounter if you go looking for it in Turkish street corners or restaurants.
The dish is made from bulgur, tomatoes and red pepper paste. If you want to be sure, just ask if it’s the vegan version and if there’s no meat inside.
4. Ev Yemekleri ((Home Cooking)
Now, this one isn’t so much a dish but more of where you’ll find a great possibility of vegan Turkish dishes being served. Even though foreigners sometimes associate Turkish food with meat, in truth, home cooked Turkish meals are actually more vegan friendly than most think. In majority of Ev Yemekleri restaurants, expect a good variety of purely vegan dishes up for grabs.
For Turkish street explorers who want to munch on something as they go, the Cezerye is the perfect vegan treat to have. This strange, brightly colored snack is made from carrots that have been cooked for a long period until all the sweetness from the vegetable has condensed. It is then peppered with hazelnuts or walnuts.
There you have it! Next time you step inside a Turkish restaurant or find yourself on the streets of Turkey, don’t worry, there’s always a vegan meal waiting for you.
If you prefer to let your palette do the exploring, there are plenty of Turkish restaurants in New York. AnTalia Restaurant serves authentic Turkish cuisine perfect for your vegan cravings. Drop by and treat your taste buds to vegan Turkish food bliss.
Top 10 Turkish Food to Satiate Your Taste Buds
Craving for some tasty Turkish treats but don’t have a clue where to start? Here are 10 special Turkish recipes that should be perfect for your hungry palette.
Ever wondered what those big slabs of roasted meat you see in most Turkish restaurants were? The ones where they take big chunks off and serve it in all its tasty and juicy form? Those are called Kebaps. Pronounced as kebap [Sheesh keh-bahp,] this is traditionally made using Turkish free-range lamb skewered under a true charcoal grill. It can also be made from beef or chicken.
Present in many traditional Turkish restaurants, Hummus is dip or spread made from chickpeas. Normally given as an appetizer, it is often served with pita bread. Frequently, the taste of the hummus can differ from one restaurant to another depending on how it is prepared.
3. Yaprak Sarma
Here’s another staple treat worth checking out. The Yaprak Sarma is made up of wrapped vine leaves filled with succulent rice and a barrage of onions and various spices like currant, cinnamon, mint and pepper. Oftentimes, it is the Turkish food of choice for vegans who want authentic Turkish meals without sacrificing their personal ideals.
For fast-food and pizza lovers, the Lahmacun is a must-taste meal. Resembling pizza, it is made from flaky dough that’s sprinkled with onions and really tasty meat. Over the years, it has become a popular dish in Turkey. It is spicy and has a very thin crust and definitely yummy.
A Döner is one of the many dishes that originally came from Turkey but has since been exported to a lot of different countries. Like the Kebap, it is cooked vertically on a skewer and grilled to perfection. It is then sliced thinly and mixed with aromatic herbs and spices.
Officially called dumplings in the Western World, a Manti is a simple appetizer dish made up of two parts: yummy dough and a filling. The filling often consists of lamb or chickpeas which is then steamed. It is served with yoghurt as well as garlic and sumac.
If you’re craving for a Turkish meal with rice, then the Pilav is a must try. Like many cuisines, there are a variety of ways to serve up this meal. However, the main form is when it is cooked with plain rice along with water, butter and vegetable oil. There’s also a bit of noodle-style pasta in there. You will also find eggplant, meat, liver slices and chickpeas. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Turkish dish without the spices so it is packed with thyme, cinnamon, pepper and even a bit of almond.
For the sweet tooth, there’s also something you can enjoy when trekking over to your favorite Turkish restaurant. The Baklava is a traditional pastry dish made up of thinly sliced layers of phyllo pastry. It is absolutely sweet and often filled with syrup, honey, and chopped nuts.
Eggplant lovers will enjoy this little dish. It’s an eggplant stuffed with a variety of veggies like onions, garlic, pepper, ground meat, parsley and so much more.
These are essentially Turkish meatballs but unlike traditional meatballs, they are served up in a host of different shapes. This dish is made with ground meat and then mixed in with bread crumbs, spices and onions. Depending on the type of dish, it can be mixed with a variety of other stuff as well.
Ready for a taste-testing Turkish treat? Book yourselves to the nearest authentic Turkish restaurant and try out any of these tasty meals. It’ll easily send your taste buds to a world of spices and exotic travel.