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Unique Foods & Drinks of Turkey

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Ezine Peyniri: Ezine cheese, which is mainly made in the region of the same name in Çanakkale, can be made from cow, goat or sheep’s milk. It is eaten for breakfast and dinner and is often combined with melon or added to salads.

Kars kaşarı (peyniri): Kars kaşarı is a hard, aged cheese made in the Northeast Turkey region near the city of Kars. The cheese is usually made from 90% cow’s milk and 10% sheep’s milk.

Van otlu peyniri: Van herbal cheese comes from the southeast region around Van and is usually made mainly from sheep’s milk. There are 25 different herbs that can be used in this cheese.

Kayak: This thick, curdled cream generally accompanies something sweet, usually honey. It’s a staple on the breakfast table but can also be found in various desserts. The best kayak is made from the milk of water buffalo.

Pekmez: This thick syrup made from grape molasses often accompanies tahini on the breakfast table. Although pekmez is usually made from grapes, it can also be made from mulberries, plums, apples, pears, pomegranates, and carob.

Tahini: Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame that is common in Turkish cuisine. It is used in both hummus and desserts and can be combined with lemon juice and oil to make a dipping sauce or dressing.

Pestil: This is a fruit leather made by pounding fruit into a thin layer that is then allowed to dry. It is most commonly made with apricots.

Pastırma: This dried ground beef is usually served in thin slices and has a distinct salty taste. It is often further hardened with a paste made from garlic, fennel seeds, and paprika.

Sucuk: This Turkish sausage is usually made with ground beef, cumin, and garlic and can be fatty and flavorful. It is mostly combined with eggs or vegetables.

Ege otları (Şevketi bostan, turp otu, börülce): Many interesting herbs in Turkish cuisine come from the Aegean Sea. Popular herbs are mallow, fennel, radish leaves, samphire, thistle, green sorrel, dandelion and nettle.

Lakerda: This salted bonito dish comes from the Black Sea region near Istanbul and is a popular meze.

Taşköprü sarımsağı: It is a special type of black garlic that is grown in Kastamonu.

Maraş biberi: A special type of red pepper grown in Kahramanmaraş that is suitable for drying and turning into dried chilli pepper.

Sumac: This spice is chestnut brown and has a citrus-like tartness that makes it easy to combine with a pinch of lemon juice.

Zahter: Made from wild thyme or black thyme, Zahter (or Za’atar as it is commonly known in English) grows in rocky terrain and is dried in the sun. Mixed with other regional spices and often with the addition of olive oil, it is a popular flavor throughout the region.

İsot: Isot pepper comes from Şanlıurfa and has a distinctive black color and a smoky taste. It is often used in lamb dishes, as well as with vegetables or eggs.

Hamsi: The Black Sea’s most famous fish, hamsi, or black sea anchovies, are incredibly popular and usually in season during winter. Hamsi is cooked in many different ways and is often served cured or fried.

Kurutulmuş sebzeler: Stuffed vegetables are a popular food in Türkiye. The most common dried stuffed vegetables are eggplant and peppers, and they’re usually stuffed with rice.

Enginar: Artichokes are often served with diced carrots and peas over oil. They are mostly in season in spring.

Anason: Anise seeds create a bold taste that is most commonly used to flavor rakı, a popular Turkish alcoholic drink.

Saffron: Saffron is a red-gold, hot spice that is most popular in Iran, but is also grown in Türkiye. It turns most of the dishes it uses a pleasant shade of yellow.

Zeytin: Olives of all colors and sizes are popular in Türkiye. Usually olives are black or green, but sometimes olives are soaked in beet juice to turn them pink. They are part of many Turkish dishes.

Baklava: This sweet dessert is made by layering nuts between phyllo pastries and then soaking them in sugar or honey syrup. It’s often made with walnuts or pistachios.

Şalgam: This tart, colorful drink consists of black carrots or beets and sour and salty brine and has a refreshing, hearty taste. It can be paired with rakı.



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