Arts & Life
Top 29 must-try Turkish street foods
Top 29 must-try Turkish street foods
Turkey is frequently described as a paradise when it comes to cuisine. Along with that, it also has hidden treasures in its streets as well. Click through for the top 29 Turkish street foods from "wet" hamburger to roasted chestnut, selected by the gastronomy jury of daily Hürriyet...
1) Meatball sandwich: Meatball sandwich is the most popular and beloved street food in Turkey. There are no cities and even neighborhoods that do not have at least one street-meatball sandwich vendor. Along with mixed seasonings, sliced tomatoes, long green peppers and onions, it leaves a beautiful taste on the tongue.
2) Fish sandwich: It is one of the most common foods to see on the streets of Istanbul. The ones sold around fish markets located on the piers of Istanbul’s Karaköy, Eminönü, Kadıköy, Bosphorus and the Golden Horn are especially the best to try. Generally, fish sandwiches are made from broiled mackerel fillets with green salad and onion, seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes.
3) Albanian-style liver: “Albanian-style” fried, diced mutton liver has an unbelievable taste that can become an eating habit. It is served with onion and potatoes. Although it has a tremendous flavor, one should consume it carefully because it is an oily and fried food containing a lot of calories. By the way, we write “Albanian-style” in brackets because this speciality does not actually come from Albania but was discovered by Albanians in Ottoman Istanbul.
4) Döner: Small “döner” buffets are lifesavers when it comes to a quick meal. It is mostly known as a “dürüm” (wrap) by tourists. What a burger means for an American is the same as what a “döner dürüm” means for a Turk. It has two options: Chicken or beef. Döner has become a popular fast food world-wide and is known as Turkish food among the whole world.
5) Wet hamburgers: These are not like classic hamburgers but rather like mini-hamburgers doused in a garlicky tomato sauce. Its taste is so irresistable, it is not possible to eat only one. Its price is also is cheaper than many other fast foods. You can find the most popular venues for this speciality near Istanbul’s Taksim Square.
6) Kokoreç: “Kokoreç” is a very spicy street food made from tomato, green pepper and grilled sheep’s intestines. At first, many people are hesitant to approach this tasty dish as a result of its main ingredient. However, after one bite, kokoreç can overcome all preconceived notions with its dominant taste. Notedly, it can become a frequent destination as an end to a night out.
7) Tantuni: Tantuni is a traditional dish that belongs to the Mersin province. However, its delicious taste has taken the whole country by storm. It is made from seasoned minced red meat and served in lavash.
8) Lahmacun: Lahmacun is a Turkish food known as “Turkish pizza” among foreigners. It has a rich range of ingredients and a thin dough base so it is very filling. The price and performance ratio is insanely high because lahmacun is very cheap but at the same time, a delicious alternative.
9) Pide: Although “pide” looks like lahmacun, they are not identical. Pide has a boat-shaped base and does not have specific ingredients like lahmacun. It has a wider range of different combinations of ingredients that one can choose according to their tastes.
10) Rice with chickpeas: The combination of chickpeas and rice is a great choice for hungry explorers. It becomes enshrined in foodlovers’ hearts with its extremely cheap price. It is recommended to drink “ayran,” a cold Turkish drink made with yogurt and water while eating chickpeas and rice.
11) Çiğ köfte: Steak tartar a la turca, “çiğ köfte” was traditionalized in the cities of Adıyaman and Şanlıurfa, located in the southeastern Anatolia region, and has expanded across the country. It is made with bulgur, onions, tomatoes, and hot red pepper flakes. It also used to include raw meat, however, in order to prevent any potential health problems, it has now evolved into a vegan dish and does not include meat. It is served in a leaf of lettuce seasoned with lemon and pomegranate molasses.
12) Rice with chicken: Among many other street foods, rice with chicken could be called the star. These vendors usually show up after 10:00 p.m. and sell their delicious rice with boiled chicken meat on top.
13) Stuffed meatballs: Stuffed meatballs or “içli köfte” is a dish made of balls of bulgur filled with minced seasoned meat. It is the best example to a perfect combination of meat and bulgur. İçli köfte takes considerably long to prepare but the result is worth the toil. Although it is consumed and well-liked all over Turkey, içli köfte is a regional dish that initially emerged from the cities of Mardin, Gaziantep, and Hatay.
14) Kumpir: One of the most famous street foods, “kumpir” is made from a baked potato base with cheese and varieties of ingredients according to customer’s palatal delight such as, black-green olives, mushroom, sausage, pickles, and corn. It is a highly nutritious but at the same time, a calorie-rich dish found nearly everywhere.
15) Stuffed mussels: This is a dish that satisfies your taste buds after one bite. Stuffed mussels are one of the most popular street foods in Turkey. It is especially the first and most wanted item in maritime cities and beach holiday destinations.
16) Börek: Coming from the Ottoman period, “börek” has a special place among classic street foods. Filled with cheese, potatoes, ground beef or spinach between two crispy thin layers of phyllo dough, it is a delicious option to consider.
17) Simit: If “ayran” is our national beverage, “simit” should be the food version of it. It is a crunchy rounded bagel covered with sesame seeds. Simit appeals to every age, budget and briefly to everyone with its addictive taste. It accompanies nearly every kind meal.
18) Corn: Boiled or roasted, corn on the cob is a well-known and a prevalent street food in Turkey. It is typically served wrapped in green corn husks and salted all over.
19) Pickle water: It does not matter if you drink pickle water with lemon or vinegar, it is a very traditional and popular street drink alternative, although it is merely a by-product of pickle-making. It might burn at first but later on, it brings a noticeable relief and refreshes the body.
20) Iced almonds: Iced almonds are one of the most splendid and beneficial snacks for increasing energy and refreshment, especially during blistering summer days. They are most likely to be found around crowded places by the seaside.
21) Roasted chestnuts: Roasted chestnuts are a perfect option for increasing blood sugar levels especially in the winter and in the cold weather, with their sweet taste. They also are a good source of energy and their scent draws people to vendors. Because they are served hot, they warm up the body and lift the mood immediately.
22) Wafer halva: While touring Turkey, wafer halva wagons can be seen everywhere because they are an old, cheap, and light dessert that appeals to everyone. Wafer halva is usually ate with ice cream, as the combination has an excellent taste.
23) Ice cream: Ice cream is a summer essential as it cools down the body and fulfills sweet cravings and is a rather low calorie dessert. Maraş style ice cream is sold in Turkish streets. The main difference of Maraş ice cream from the classic one is its main ingredient of “salep,” a hot drink made with milk and orchid roots. Apart from its taste, another characteristic that makes Maraş ice cream particularly appealing is the ice cream seller’s tricks and games while scooping and serving the ice cream.
24) Fresh chickpeas: Although fresh chickpeas are not very popular all over Turkey, they are sold in tied bunches at particular times around the year in the central Anatolian region. They need to be consumed fresh or they will dry up the next day.
25) Lokma/tulumba/halka desserts: For ages, as popular street food from the Ottoman period, “lokma, tulumba and hoop (halka)” desserts are all syrup-soaked pastries, which have similar tastes but different shapes. They are the first ones to come in mind when the subject is street desserts.
26) Cotton candy/candy apples: Candy floss or by its well-known name, cotton candy and candy apples are by far children’s favorite street food on the list. It is very possible to see a cotton candy peddler in nearly every neighborhood.
27) “Macun” or Ottoman sweet paste: With its multicoloured, rainbow-like appearance, Ottoman paste is a traditional dessert that comes from very old times. It is generally preferred by children and served by rolling the paste with a wooden stick.
28) Boza: “Boza” is a nutritious beverage that is slightly fermented and thick. Like hawthorn, boza is not a product that appeals to everyone because it has a different flavor. It is generally consumed with roasted chickpeas and counted as a cozy street dessert.
29) Sahlep: On a winter morning or a cold night, “sahlep” is the best sweet, hot, and milky beverage to recover your body temperature and cheer you up. Sahlep contains dried orchid flour, which is the essence that creates the softness and warmness of sahlep. It is usually consumed with cinnamon, which balances the blood sugar. As it has a very low price and a great taste, it is very popular among Turkish society. (Photos: Alamy)
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