Turkish cuisine (Turkish: Türk mutfağı) is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including those of Southeast Europe (Balkans), Central Europe, and Western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm with influences from Levantine cuisines, along with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia (such as yogurt and mantı), creating a vast array of specialities—many with strong regional associations.
Turkish cuisine varies across the country. The cooking of Istanbul, Bursa, Izmir, and rest of the Asia Minor region inherits many elements of Ottoman court cuisine, with a lighter use of spices, a preference for rice over bulgur, koftes and a wider availability of vegetable stews (türlü), eggplant, stuffed dolmas and fish.
The cuisine of the Black Sea Region uses fish extensively, especially the Black Sea anchovy (hamsi) and includes maize dishes. The cuisine of the southeast (e.g. Urfa, Gaziantep, and Adana) is famous for its variety of kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts such as baklava, şöbiyet, kadayıf, and künefe.
Especially in the western parts of Turkey, where olive trees grow abundantly, olive oil is the major type of oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean regions are rich in vegetables, herbs, and fish. Central Anatolia has many famous specialties, such as keşkek, mantı (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme. Food names directly cognate with mantı are found also in Chinese (mantou or steamed bun) and Korean cuisine (mandu).
Manti might remind you of ravioli at first sight, but the traditional Turkish dish is completely unique in taste and texture. Small beef or lamb dumplings are boiled or fried and served with yogurt or butter, and often accompanied with a range of spices.
This flat and crispy bread is traditionally topped with minced meat, salad, and lemon juice (thought the above is a beetroot vegan option!), and can be wrapped, folded in half, or pulled apart to eat.
Cheap and available on any street corner, it’s the perfect light lunch or snack while touring.