Turkish cuisine is highly influenced by its Ottoman heritage. Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm, with particular influence by the Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, along with traditional Turkish themes from Central Asia . The best flavored white cheeses and yogurt are prepared from sheep milk. Although rice, which is named as pilav (pilaf), is the essential part of many foods, bulgur (prepared from wheat) can also used for the same purpose. Especially in the western parts of Turkey , where olive trees are grown abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking. The bread is prepared from wheat, barley or corn. Pide (broad, round and flat kind of bread made of wheat) and tandir ekmegi (baked on the inner walls of a round oven called tandir) are some examples for authentic types of bread in Turkish cuisine.
Turkish eating habits
Turkish cuisine went through dramatic changes in 20th century and the eating habits of the Turkish people has significantly changed due to the Western influence. An important pillar of a traditional Turkish meal is that the food is served in a little amount compared to Western standards and one has to eat lots of bread. Even other staple foods like rice and bulgur are eaten with bread. In recent years, though, many Turks avoid eating bread with them, apparently due to weight problems. Another type of bread commonly eaten in Turkey is simit (or "gevrek"), a ring shaped bread covered with sesame seeds, eaten either plain or with cheese or jelly.
Meat has always been a luxury item for the Turkish people, mainly since milk-fed lambs, the most popular source of meat, have a very low yield. Meat was eaten almost only at the wedding ceremonies and during Kurban Bayrami (Eid ul-Adha), usually not in the form of kebabs but as etli pilav (pilaf with meat). However, after the advent of fast-food chains all around Turkey and introduction of industrial meat production, meat had become a part of the daily diet for most Turks, often in the form of döner kebab eaten at fast-food restaurants. However, even today, the main use of meat at cooking is putting kiyma (ground meat) in small amounts to vegetable dishes, thus attaining names such as kiymali fasulye (bean with kiyma).
Another profound change in Turkish eating habits is the abandonment of traditional ingredients. With the high-level production of sugar beet sugar in Turkey , honey and pekmez were effectively replaced by sugar in making the Turkish desserts. Margarine is widely used for cooking instead of butter, kuyruk yagi (tail fat of sheep) or even olive oil. Ketchup is eaten as a substitute to various sauces made from tomatoes, paprika, and spices, known as çemen, acika, etc. It is also important to note that today Coca Cola is by far the most popular cold beverage in Turkey . Even the famous ayran would be left to oblivion if it were not revived at döner junctions. However, ayran has always fans and it has gained importance again in the last few years and in Burger King restaurants, ayran has become a choice of drink besides Coca Cola.
Meats (especially shish kebabs) are usually marinated and grilled over an open fire. Although every kind of halal meat is consumed, lamb from milk-fed lambs is especially favored. A famous beef delicacy is pastirma. Iskender kebap is a relatively recently invented type of döner kebap which is usually consumed in the northwestern parts of Turkey . Döner kebap has established itself as an alternative fast food in Western Europe countries like the Netherlands , Germany and Britain .
Today, döner kebab is typically served as a kind of sandwich in pita (flat bread) or in a piece of regular bread. This type of döner kebab has been available in Istanbul since about 1960. The döner kebab with salad and sauce served in pita, which is predominant in Germany and the rest of the world, was invented in Berlin-Kreuzberg in 1971, because the original preparation was not appealing enough to the German taste. Lahmacun is the turkish variant of the Pizza.
List of the types of Kebab
- Döner kebab sandwich served in a thick pita.Döner Kebab
- Iskender kebap
- Shish Kebab
- Adana Kebab
- Izmir Köfte
- Urfa Kebab
- Tavuk Shish
- Additionally, sucuk is a form of sausage commonly eaten with breakfast.
Meze which is a selection of food served as the appetizer course with or without drinks or sometimes as the main course and consists olives, mature kashar cheese (similar to strong cheddar cheese in flavor) or white cheese, pickles, cacik (tzatziki), köfte (meatballs), pilaki (made of bean, garlic and olive oil), dolma (grape leaves, green pepper or eggplant stuffed with rice or meat), börek (very thin phyllo dough stuffed with cheese, meat or vegetables), hummus (prepared from sesame, chickpea, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice), seafood, and several other varieties. Gözleme is a food typical in rural areas, made of lavash bread folded around a variety of fillings -- spinach, cheese, meat, potatos -- and cooked on a large griddle.
A plate with pieces of different types of baklavaOne of the best-known desserts in Turkish cuisine is baklava. Rice and starch puddings (muhallebi, sütlaç), helva (halvah), kadayif (kataifi), revani (made of semolina and starch) are among other varieties. Kaymak (clotted cream) is often served with sweet desserts to cut through the sweetness. Tea or thick Turkish coffee (with or without sugar) is usually served after dinner or more rarely together with desserts. Lokum (or Turkish Delight, in english) is another variant of Turkish well-known desserts. Tavuk gögüsü is a sweet, gelatinous, white dessert made from ground up chicken breast.
Raki becomes cloudy white, when mixed with water.Although the majority of Turks profess the Islamic faith, alcoholic beverages are as widely available as in Europe . However, most of the Turks abstain from alcohol during the holy month of Ramadan. There are a few local brands of lager and a variety of local wines. Raki, an alcoholic beverage flavoured with anise, is the usual tipple with meze. The other favorite beverages include ayran, boza, and turnip juice.