Best Turkish Street Food
It is believed that Turkish ice cream comes from the town of Maraş, hence the name, and what really separates it from other varieties is its resistance to melting and an especially thick, chewy texture. These qualities are brought to the simple milk and sugar mixture by adding two thickening agents: arab gum, also known as mastic resin, and salep, a form of flour made from the early purple orchid root.
In fact, ice cream generally contains significantly more salep in the Kahramanmaraş area than normal, which is why it is often referred to as kesme dondurma from the Turkish kesmek, meaning to cut, which is why this variety of ice cream is usually eaten with a knife and fork.
In Turkey, ice cream is commonly sold in the streets but also in specialized dondurması shops, whose owners will often go out of their way by producing their own salep, apart from using exclusively natural flavorings and milk from goats fed only with thyme, orchid flowers, and milkvetch.
The Döner kebab is a world-famous delicacy, consisting of grilled parts of meat shredded from a vertical skewer. New herbs and spices are usually seasoned with the meat. Originally, the meat used in the döner was exclusively lamb, but today in Istanbul, kebabs are made with a mixture of lamb and beef, or sometimes only beef.
As described in the 18th-century Ottoman travel books, meat that is grilled vertically on a skewer is not a new thing. The döner kebab sandwich, meaning revolving kebab, appeared in Berlin in the early 1970s.
It is assumed that unlike before, when the ingredients were served on a plate, Kadir Nurman was the first to bring the shaved pieces of meat into a flatbread and serve it with vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, onions, cucumbers, and a squirt or two of sauce.
Kofta or köfte, commonly made from ground beef or lamb, are walnut-sized fried meatballs. It is a popular Turkish meze dish that is often prepared for special occasions and cocktail parties, as it is very simple to prepare meatballs and can be eaten easily with a toothpick.
Köfte comes from egg-coated and fried kadin budu to Adana kofte from the southeast of Turkey, in varying degrees of spiciness and in various forms. In eastern Turkey, the most popular variety is called içli köfte, full of flavor due to large amounts of butter in the filling.
Another interesting variety is called cizbiz kofta, one of the country’s most common street food items, the name of which comes from the sound when put on the grill of the thin meat patties. The variations are virtually endless, whether fried, stewed, drenched in sauce, or grilled, and every Kofta dish pairs well with a glass of turnip juice and fried potatoes on the side.
Gözleme is a flour, water, yeast, olive oil and yogurt Turkish flatbread that stops the flatbread from becoming too brittle. Ingredients such as beef, vegetables, eggs, assorted cheeses, or mushrooms are filled into the dough and then baked on a bag griddle.
Gözleme was originally served for breakfast or as a light afternoon snack, but today it has the status of a popular fast food that can be found in restaurants, food carts, and cafés across the world.
Kokoreç is a traditional Turkish dish, popular in other countries as well, especially in Greece, where it is known as kokoretsi. There are some variations, however, between the Turkish and Greek versions. People use lamb offal such as lungs, kidneys, hearts, and liver in Greek cuisine, and without any additional ingredients, they use small and large intestines and sweetbreads in Turkey.
For the Turkish version, kokoreç, the ingredients are rinsed and cleaned, then wrapped onto iron skewers to be grilled over charcoal. Once done, the dish is usually served with bread or tucked inside the bread with various spices such as oregano, cumin, and chili flakes.
While lahmacun is popularly known as Turkish pizza, what this crunchy, doughy treat topped with spicy minced meat truly represents does not really do justice to that name. In Turkey, the ultimate street food and a favorite lunchtime snack is lahmacun.
It can be found in numerous street stalls as well as in almost every traditional Turkish restaurant, but also in kebab restaurants where mini lahmacuns are traditionally served as appetizers. By rolling a ball of sturdy semolina dough into a thin disc that is only lightly spread with meat, either lamb or beef, minced together with chili, onions, and other seasonings into a paste, the perfect lahmacun is made.
In a super-hot (and preferably wood-fired) oven, the dish is then briefly baked. With a drizzle of lemon juice, Lahmacun is best served sweet. The crispy onions and a parsley salad known as piyaz are usually enjoyed folded around them. It is recommended that lahmacun be combined with either the salty, cold yogurt drink called ayran, or şalgam suyu, the red carrot pickles’ barrel-fermented juice, which is salted, spiced, and flavored with çelem, the aromatic turnip.
Turkish simit is a circular bread that is usually followed by either tea or ayran (salted yogurt drink) and eaten with fruit preserves for breakfast or with cheese, pastırma (salt-cured beef) and fresh vegetables in savory combinations.
Simit has been baked in Istanbul since the 1500s, it is believed, while the name comes from the Arabic word samīd, which means white bread or fine flour. The dough itself is very similar to that of a bagel, except instead of boiling, the proofed dough is shaped and dipped into fruit molasses with water before being baked with a coating of toasted sesame seeds on top.
In Turkey, simits are sold by street vendors who walk around either pushing trolleys or carrying trays piled with these delicious, crunchy crusted bagels on their heads.
Tantuni is a popular Southern Turkish street food dish consisting of thinly sliced beef seasoned with Turkish spices and herbs, typically cooked with tomatoes and onions. In specially built tantuni pots, the mixture is baked. The dish is usually served wrapped in a wrap of durum wheat, with ground sumac and a side wedge of lemon. Since every tantuni chef has his own method and secret technique of preparing the dish,it is said that the flavors of tantuni are never the same.
Tantuni was originally developed as the dish of a poor man – it’s very nutritious because it consists of meat stuffed into bread with a lot of fat. Some claim that when they are brought from the rim of the pan to its middle, the name of the dish refers to the sound that the meat and spices make.
Su böreği is a Turkish borek variety that is considered to be one of the hardest boreks to prepare. It is filled with cheese and parsley, usually. Before baking, it is important to soak the dough sheets in a combination of water, olive oil, milk and eggs, making the borek tender and juicy.
In most borek shops around the world, Su böreği can be found.
This staple street food item is cooked in Turkey with a whole baked potato cut in the middle and filled with a mixture of puréed potatoes, butter, and kaşar cheese. The potatoes are typically large in size, baked intact with their skin, while mayonnaise or ketchup and everything from fresh or pickled vegetables to salads and sausages may be included in the toppings.
Kumpir can be found at kiosks and food stands, and it is a quick, nutritious street food option that comes at a fairly low price.