Turkish cuisine combines Mediterranean, Central Asian, Caucasian, and Arabic influences, and is extremely rich. Beef is the most important meat lamb is also common but pork is very hard to find although not illegal, and eggplant aubergine, onion, lentil, bean, tomato, garlic, and cucumber are the primary vegetables. An abundance of spices is also used. The main staples are rice pilav, bulgur wheat and bread, and dishes are typically cooked in vegetable oil or sometimes butter.
There are many kinds of specialized restaurants to choose from, since most do not prepare or serve other kinds of food. Traditional Turkish restaurants serve meals daily prepared and stored in a bain-marie. The meals are at the entrance so you can easily see and choose. KebapÃ§is are restaurants specialized in many kinds of kebab. Some Kebab restaurants serve alcohol while others don't. There are subtypes like ciÄerci, Adana kebapÃ§Ä±sÄ± or Ä°skender kebapÃ§Ä±sÄ±. Fish restaurants typically serve meze cold olive oil dishes and RakÄ± or wine. DÃ¶nerci's are prevalent through country and serve dÃ¶ner kebap as a fast food. KÃ¶feci's are restaurants with meatballs KÃ¶fte served as main dish. KokoreÃ§ci, midyeci, tantunici, mantÄ±cÄ±, gÃ¶zlemeci, lahmacuncu, pideci, Ã§iÄ kÃ¶fteci, etsiz Ã§iÄ kÃ¶fteci are other kinds of local restaurants found in Turkey which specialization in one food.
A full Turkish meal at Kebab restaurant starts with a soup, often lentil soup mercimek Ã§orbasi, and a set of meze appetizers featuring olives, cheese, pickles and a wide variety of small dishes. Meze can easily be made into a full meal, especially if they are consumed along with rakÄ±. The main course is usually meat: a common dish type and Turkey's best known culinary export is kebab kebap, grilled meat in various forms including the famous dÃ¶ner kebap thin slices of meat shaved from a giant rotating spit and ÅiÅkebab skewered meat, and a lot more others. KÃ¶fte meatball is a variation of the kebab. There are hundreds of kinds of kÃ¶fte throughout Anatolia, but only about 10 to 12 of them are known to the residents of the larger cities, kike Ä°negÃ¶l kÃ¶fte, Dalyan kÃ¶fte, sulu kÃ¶fte etc.
Eating on the cheap is mostly done at Kebab stands, which can be found everywhere in Istanbul and other major cities. For the equivalent of a couple dollars, you get a full loaf of bread sliced down the middle, filled with broiled meat, lettuce, onions, and tomatoes. For North Americans familiar with donairs wrapped in pita bread or wraps, you should look for the word "DÃ¼rÃ¼m" or "DÃ¼rÃ¼mcÃ¼" on the windows of the kebab stands and ask for your donair kebab to be wrapped in a dÃ¼rÃ¼m or lavaÅ bread depending on the region.
Vegetarian restaurants are not common, and can be found only in very central parts of big cities and some of the tourist spots. However, every good restaurant offers vegetable dishes, and some of the restaurants offering traditional âev yemeÄiâ âhome foodâ have olive-oil specialities which are vegetarian in content. A vegetarian would be very happy in the Aegean region, where all kinds of wild herbs are eaten as main meals, either cooked or raw, dressed with olive oil. But a vegetarian would have real difficulty in searching for food especially in Southeastern region, where a dish without meat is not considered a dish. At such a place, supermarkets may help with their shelves full of canned vegetables, or even canned cooked olive-oil courses and fresh fruits. If you are a vegetarian and going to visit rural areas of Southeastern region, better take your canned food with you, as there will be no supermarkets to rescue you.
Some Turkish desserts are modeled on the sweet and nutty Arabic kind: famous dishes include baklava, a layered pastry of finely ground nuts and phyllo dough soaked in honey and spices, and Turkish Delight lokum, a gummy confection of rosewater and sugar. There are also many more kinds of desserts prepared using milk predominantly, such as kazandibi, keÅkÃ¼l, muhallebi, sÃ¼tlaÃ§, tavuk gÃ¶ÄsÃ¼, gÃ¼llaÃ§ etc.
Turkish Breakfast, tend to comprise of Ã§ay tea, bread, olives, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and occasionally spreads such as honey and jam. This can become very monotonous after a while. A nice alternative to try should you have the option is Menemen a Turkish variation on scrambled eggs/omelet. Capsicum Red Bell Pepper, onion, garlic and tomato are all combined with eggs. The meal is traditional cooked and served in a clay bowl. Try adding a little chili to spice it up and make sure to use lots of bread as well for a filling hot breakfast. Bread is omnipresent in Turkey, at any given meal you'll be presented with a large basket of crusty bread.
Ubiquitous simit also known as gevrek in some Aegean cities such as Izmir, much like bagel but somewhat thinner, crustier, and with roasted sesame seeds all over, is available from trolleys of street vendors in virtually any central part of any town and city at any time except late at night. Perhaps with the addition of Turkish feta cheese beyaz peynir or cream cheese krem peynir or karper, a couple of simits make up a filling and a very budget concious breakfast as each costs about 0.75 TL, or even a lunch taken while on the go.