Food and Beverage

Turkish menu? No doubts with this helpful guide to Turkish cuisine

A trip to Istanbul also means trying a varied and tasty cuisine, a meeting of different cultures and influences, a set of flavors that draw inspiration from Asian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Balkan and obviously Ottoman cuisine. Turkish cuisine is therefore not just kebabs, as many people usually think.
The culinary tradition in Istanbul is mainly based on some ingredients around which various recipes and preparations revolve. The most used foods, from breakfast to dinner, are meat, aubergines, yogurt, green peppers, lentils and beans, tomatoes, onions and garlic. Of course, spices, from cumin to paprika and aromatic herbs such as mint, oregano and thyme, and dried fruit also play an important role.

Meze (Starters)

Meze is a selection of starters (mostly creamy in texture), which in Turkish cuisine are served at the beginning of the meal, before the main courses. Meze is always eaten slowly along with drinks, especially with Raki. There is always a lot of conversation around the table with your friends, so you spend several hours without noticing. When the meze is served on the table, you take samples from each dish you like and put it on your plate, then start enjoying them. Either you are having a fish or meat dinner, you will always have the meze first.


A chickpea-based cream that is never missing on Turkish tables and in Middle Eastern countries.


Sarma is a Turkish specialty with grape leaves, long rice, mint, dill and lemon juice.


A fermented and concentrated milk-based preparation obtained from drained rayeb.


Cacik is a beloved and popular meze in Turkey based on cucumbers and yogurt.


Bulgur salad with tomato and parsley, both fresh and hearty, can be enjoyed as a main dish,


Muhammara is cream of peppers and walnuts typical of Turkey and Syria.


A tasty Turkish appetizer that precedes both a fish-based and a meat-based lunch.

fava bean puree

A delicious fava bean puree made with dried fava beans to start your dinner.


Traditional fried meatballs prepared with chopped zucchini.

Meat and Fish

Abroad, Turkish cuisine is often identified with kebab, a term that indicates roast meat. In reality the situation is much more complex because there are so many meat and fish dishes and it is difficult to list them all. It’s up to you to discover them on a nice trip to Istanbul.


Köfte are popular and tasty meatballs typical of Turkish cuisine.

İskender kebap

Sliced döner kebab meat topped with hot tomato sauce over bread.

Adana kebab

Barbecue variant of the kebab, with lamb meat, born in Adana.

Hünkar Beğendi

Literally ‘the sultan liked it’, it is an eggplant and lamb dish.

Imam Bayildi

Imam bayildi is a Turkish eggplant dish with a long history.

grilled fish

Grilled fish is typical of Turkish seafood cuisine. To be enjoyed with a view of the Bosphorus.


Soups have a very special place in Turkish cuisine. No matter if rich or poor, soup is a must for any table. In addition to lunch and dinner, soup can also be eaten for breakfast in Turkey, which is a fairly common behavior. In Turkish cuisine there are many different types of soups that can be eaten both hot and cold, watery or in texture, with or without particles. Here is a list of our six favorite Turkish soups.


Mercimek Çorbasi is a delicious soup made with red lentils and spices.

Balık çorbası

Balık Çorbası is a fish broth typical of Turkish seafood cuisine.

Tarhana çorbası

Tarhana Çorbası is an “old-fashioned” recipe invigorating.

Tavuk çorbası

Lemon Chicken Soup is one of the most famous Turkish recipes.

İşkembe çorbası

Işkembe çorbası is one of Turkey’s best-known and best-loved tripe dishes.

Şehriye çorbası

Şehriye Çorbasi is a less touristy Turkish soup with pasta and tomato.

Other main dishes

As you have seen in the previous sections, Turkish cuisine is very varied and rich in categories. It is often not easy to put them in a specification. In this module we wanted to include 3 Turkish dishes that you will find in any restaurant in Istanbul.


The manti are Turkish ravioli with yogurt and stuffed with meat.


Nicknamed the “Turkish pizza”, pide is the other Turkish pizza after Lahmacun.


Menemen is a salty, protein and flavor dish typical of Turkish breakfast.


“We eat sweets, we talk softly” is the ancient Turkish proverb that emphasizes the importance of pastry in the country’s gastronomic culture. A land with a very rich cuisine, which sees in the dessert a symbol of welcome but also a sign of trust and bond. Sweets were the protagonists of the festivities reserved for the Janissaries, the private army body of the sultan at the time of the Ottoman Empire, inevitable dishes in any ritual that marks an important step in life, from birth to marriage. Here is a list of the most famous and good Turkish sweets.


Similar to candy, lokums are cube-shaped Turkish treats. They accompany Turkish coffee.


Baklava is a Turkish delight made from phyllo dough, dried fruit and a thick honey syrup.


Aşure, also known as Noah’s pudding, is a typical dessert much loved in Turkey and beyond.


Halva is a Turkish dessert made with large quantities of sesame seeds and sugar.


Sütlaç is a typical spoon dessert, a kind of very simple but tasty rice pudding.


Künefe is a typical dessert from all over the Middle East but the most delicious recipe is the Turkish one.


Turkey is a very rich country for its cuisine and there are a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages produced throughout the country. These traditional drinks are part of the culture and all Turks drink every day, so even a foreigner must necessarily try them during his trip.

çay in istanbul


Turks love to drink tea (çay) from sunrise to sunset and every occasion is good to drink çay in Turkey.

Türk kahvesi

One of the best known coffees in the world. Since 2013 it has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.


Ayran is a yoghurt-based drink originally from Turkey and today appreciated in various Eastern countries.


Boza is a fermented hot winter Turkish drink, known as one of the oldest drinks in Anatolia.


Salep is a drink made from salep flour, derived from orchid roots, and a cup of hot milk.

şalgam suyu

Şalgam Suyu is a popular plant-based drink originating from the southeastern region of Turkey.


Raki is a distillate of corn, potatoes, grapes or plums, which is flavored with anise and mint.


Beer is a very popular alcoholic drink in Turkey. Commonly, the most popular Turkish beers are lager-type beers.


Turkey, like other Mediterranean countries, is passionate about winemaking and this love has more than a millennium.