A Guide To Traditional Turkish Food

Turkish food is always so fresh and delicious that as soon as I get close to arriving in Turkey I get excited butterflies in my stomach. Whether it is something simple like a kebab or slow cooked güveç, there is always lots of flavour to enjoy.

The dishes vary between regions, utilising ingredients unique to the area so, like any country, I always try to pick dishes specific to that region. The list of dishes below is obviously not exhaustiv,e but it’s a good introduction to typical Turkish cuisine.

A salad heavy in tomatoes is typical Turkish cuisine
I love Turkey in part because of all the yummy food. Take a look at my favourite places to visit in Turkey.

An Introduction To Turkish Dishes


The classic döner can come in a variety of forms such as in a wrap or with bread. However, the meat used is always that giant hunk of meat you see being cooked on a spit, which in the UK we associate with a late night drunken snack!

In Turkey these are delicious no matter what time of day.


Smoked and spiced eggplant which is grilled, pureed and topped with lamb cubes. It’s usually served with rice and yoghurt with garlic. Alinazik is a speciality of the Gaziantep province of Turkey.


Oh I love a good güveç! Güveç is a stew cooked in a clay pot. The stew contains a mixture of vegetables and often contains meat or fish. Karides güveç or shrimp stew is my personal favourite.

Karides güveç at the beach = heaven!

Kebap (kebab)

Kebabs have been cooked around the world for generations so come in many different shapes, sizes and variations. But wherever you find them it’s essentially meat on a stick cooked over coals.

Beyti refers to minced meat and şiş is cubed meat. Adana is known is the spicy Turkish kebab.

Kebab is typical Turkish cuisine
Lamb kebap enjoyed in the rural mountain village of Gombe. This area is great to explore on a day trip from Kas


Turkey’s answer to meatballs. A simple recipe of minced meat, onion and herbs. Turkish meatballs are served dry (ie no sauce) on a stick, often with rice and salad.


Also know as Turkish pizza. This is flatbread oven baked with a variety of toppings, as you might get on a typical pizza, but is more oval in shape.

Pide is a popular dish in Turkey


Meze isn’t one dish, rather it is a selection of many small dishes typically served as an appetiser and is a staple on most Turkish food menus. Typical meze dishes include humus, olive salad, cucumber with yoghurt and eggplant salad all served with a healthy serving of bread.

Meze are a staple Turkish food menus
A messy meze – I forgot to take a photo before I got stuck in!

Izgara Balık

Simply, grilled fish. A must for any visit to the Turkish coast. Nick swears by the grilled fish at Smiley’s restaurant in Kaş, which is on the Turquoise Coast. For more information on Kaş and my other favourite destinations in Turkey check out this post!


Finely diced aubergine, potato, zucchini and onion lightly fried in a tomato sauce. Usually cooked in clay dish. Great as a starter.

Testi Kebap

Yes, yes have a giggle at the name but this dish is truly delicious. (More giggles) This dish is typical to the Cappadocia region and is basically meat and vegetables slow cooked in a sealed clay pot.

The waiter brings the pot to the table whilst it’s on fire and then promptly chops the end off the pot, whilst trying not to get any clay fragments in your food. Magic!

For a detailed Cappadocia itinerary click here!

Popular Turkish Drinks


Tea, never served with milk, but almost certainly with a cube of sugar. You will literally get asked if you want çay where ever you go. Be prepared for a lot of pee stops!

You’ll get offered tea where ever you go in Turkey, like here in a shoe repair shop where I was getting my flip flop fixed!


Turkish coffee is unfiltered, so the trick is to give the cup a gentle swirl now and again to remix the grounds with the water.


Common in many middle east countries, Ayran is a cold yoghurt based drink mixed with salt. A little sour for my taste but Nick loves it!


Anise flavoured alcoholic drink similar to Sambuca!

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A beginner's guide to Turkish cuisine

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Louise is a tour leader from South Wales who runs adventure tours in Africa, Asia and the Americas. She lives in her converted campervan & is currently based in the UK. Louise is trained in mountain leadership and is a published photographer.

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