Food spotlight: Turkey beyond the kebab


Like Turkey itself, Turkish cuisine straddles Europe and the Middle East, offering rich and delicious dishes that may seem familiar to those who have a taste for Greek, Balkan, Lebanese or Central Asian foods.

But even within Turkey, a large country of nearly 80 million people about the size of British Columbia, tastes vary with a whole range of regional ingredients thrown into the mix.

While most are familiar with slow-cooked doners and kebabs, typically made from lamb, chicken or beef, served on a metal or wood skewer, here are five other Turkish dishes you ought to experience at your local restaurant or try your hand at in your own kitchen:

  • Dolma: Also popular in Greek and Lebanese cuisine, dolma usually refer to vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice but can actually refer to a rainbow of other stuffed vegetables, including peppers, squash and eggplant. Recipe
  • Mantı: Steamed or boiled dumplings, a version of which you’ll find throughout Turkey, Central Asian and even Western China, manti consist of spiced meat in a dough wrapper. Served with yogurt and butter, there’s nothing quite like them. Recipe
  • Durum: Imagine a burrito born in Istanbul – this flavourful street food consists of lamb, beef or chicken inside a pita or lavash wrap, with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles and sumac spice. Recipe
  • Kayısı Tatlısı: While its name may sound like a dish out of Game of Thrones, this wonderful dessert consists of apricots stuffed with nuts and cream – heavenly! Recipe
  • Kunefe: Also known as kanafah in Egypt and other spots around the Mediterranean, this Turkish dessert is made with shredded pastry dough and cheese, topped with pistachios – your taste buds are guaranteed to go crazy. Recipe

Have you visited Turkey or tried Turkish cuisine? Please share your delicious experiences in the Shop Talk Blog community forum!


Did you know? Turkeys aren’t from Turkey

How everyone’s favourite Thanksgiving bird got its name is too convoluted to describe here. To learn more, including why the Turkish and French name for turkey means “India", click here!

23 thoughts on “Food spotlight: Turkey beyond the kebab

  1. No I haven’t tried Turkish QUISINE, but I would like to try it in the near future, some of the foods sounds very interesting and tasty.

    1. No, I haven’t tried the Turkish Cuisine, I would Love to try it it sounds so so Tasty. I’m very Interested in trying this. Thank You. 🙂

  2. I spent a month in Turkey in the town of Side which is between Antalya & Alanya. Traveled to Konya, Cappadocia & many parts in between.
    I sure didn’t go there for McDonald’s or Burger King but I did enjoy a wide variety of Turkish foods.
    Went to a number of Bazaars searching out fresh veggies, fruits & other ingredients & asked some people how to recreate their dishes.
    Some flopped some were great. The Bazaars were also a great place to find awesome spices, herbs & seasonings.
    Chicken as I found was a very popular protein & experienced some great goat dishes.
    I highly recommend anyone to experiment with Turkish food…I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

  3. I also don’t believe I have ever tried any authentic Turkish food but I’m open minded and I love food, so now I want too!

  4. I come from Bosnia. Our cousine has a lot of traces of Turkish influence since we were under Otoman Empire for 500 yrs. I would still like to experience original Turkish food

  5. I have both been to Turkey and cook Turkish food. My favourite snack is gozlamei which is a very fine white pancake filed with a thin layer of cheese and often spinach and meat, then folded and grilled on a a hot iron, or a pida (which is spelled right) a piece of savory pastry, formed into a boat shape and filled with grilled tomatoes, eggplant and other veggies. If you ever get there, be sure to try their lamb stew cooked in a sealed clay pot for several hours (it is something that has to be ordered in the morning) then served with a flourish at your table, by slicing the top off the pot with a sword. Their wine is also amazing and goes wonderfully well with any of their cuisine. I love all Middle Eastern cuisine, but the food that comes from Turkey is exceptional.

  6. I have been to Greece a long time ago, and, sorry to say, I was not too impressed by their cuisine. Most meat smelled and tasted like wet wool socks. Deserts were extremely sweet and dripping with honey. Coffee black and bitter.
    This was many years ago, and I would really live to taste something from Turkey and beyond. My own taste has changed a lot, and I would be fun to try something new.

  7. My husband is from Istanbul,Turkiye and I lived there for 7 months. While I was there, I learned to make many Turkish dishes, including dolmas, kirmizi mercimek corbasi (red lentil soup, served in restaurants everywhere), börek (cheese/spinach or potato), a lot of lamb dishes with roasted vegetables and so much pilaf. Their ice cream is so amazing, probably closer to gelato in taste,very fresh. Not served in the winter though 🙁

  8. I have not had Turkish Quisine but it looks and sounds pretty good. Something I would definitely try. I will plan to attend the Turkish Pavillion at Folklorama here in Winnipeg next year and try some of their dishes.

  9. Hello,

    I am trying to figure out what the inviting dish is…the one with the noodles wrapped around it. I can not seem to see the name of the dish or recipe?

  10. I am very familiar with Turkish food and delicacies. Macedonia, where I come from, has a lot of dishes that share the same recipes as other Balkan countries. Maybe the spices are not exactly the same but the dishes are. I have tested dolma, baklava, kanafah (kadeif), halvah and Turkish delight (chocolate is my favorite).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *