Great Food at Great Places (Part I)
The basic structure of Turkish food can be explained by analyzing the types of dishes according to their ingredients. There might otherwise appear to be an immense number of dishes, each made from distinct ingredients, as well as presentation.
For those who are new to the Turkish Cuisine, there are a few general comments to make: the foundation is grains (rice and wheat) and vegetables and each category of dishes requires just one or two main ingredients. The Turkish food is purist in style, so the sauces and spices are supposed to enhance rather than hide the main ingredient's flavors.
In contrast to traditional Western views of Turkish food, spices and herbs are used sparingly and uniquely. This means that eggplant should taste like eggplant, lamb like lamb, and pumpkin like pumpkin. When cooking zucchini, dill weed or mint is often added, while parsley, garlic, or even cumin are sometimes used, and cumin is also added to ground meat when cooking kofte.
The use of lemon and yogurt complements both meat and vegetable dishes, providing a counterpunch to olive oil or meat. Most desserts and fruit dishes do not require spices, meaning they are mild and refined.
Meatless dishes fall into two categories: vegetarian dishes and meat dishes. Even when meat is used, it is minimally, and the pide or flatbread occupies most of the plate along with vegetables or yogurt. Turkish restaurant offers a variety of authentic desserts and beverages. As the Turkish culture values setting as much as food, food-related destinations should also be appraised, as well as dishes and eating protocol.
The weekly neighborhood markets bazaar and the permanent markets are great places to find ingredients for the cuisine. Istanbul's Spice Market is the most famous place of these latter kinds and is a place where you can find everything from vegetables to spices, as it has been since pre-Ottoman times. A local smell fills the air as this ancient structure that was the end of the Spice Road is filled with stalls selling a variety of exotic spices. The most modest markets are found in the city centers, where fish and vegetables are always available.
On the weekly markets, sleepy villages come to life, as locals set up their stalls as early as dawn to sell their goods. Aside from handicrafts, textiles, glassware, and other household items, one will also find the most affordable prices for household items at the markets today. The bustling atmosphere in the bazaar and their abundance of fresh foods makes them unique. In the narrow aisles, the vendors jostle for attention while people haggle and jostle for position. An inexpensive flat by the seaside with fresh fruit and vegetables would be a good way to purify mind and body every year.
From bread to borek
The backbone of Turkish food is wheat flour, which is primarily used to bake Turkish bread, flatbread, sesame ring dumplings, and a family of food called borek, a thin sheet of pastry, the Ottoman bakers believed Adam learned how to make bread from the Archangel Gabriel following his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. No other bread tastes as tasty as everyday Turkish restaurant bread, a secret that is still cherished by Turkish bakers today.
After leaving Turkey, one realizes how luxurious Turkish bread is Only in these last days that the lavishness of the bread is appreciated by the rich and the poor, simple and refined. It is thus praised by everyone who eats it. There's a bakery in every neighborhood that bakes the golden crisp loaves twice a day, releasing a sweet aroma throughout the city. The crisp ends of the loaves are always the first thing that people grab on their way home from work. It is the best reward to hold the warm loaf after a hard day at work, believing that everything is well.
A typical way to eat Ekmek, Pide, and Simit is to eat them the same day. Leftover Ekmek is usually used in desserts, chicken feed, or mixed with milk for the neighborhood cats.
A special meat mix is baked in dough dumplings that are served with garlic yogurt and melted butter seasoned with paprika. As a Sunday luncheon event, it is a complete meal in itself and is preceded by a nap in the afternoon.
The delicate sheets of dough needed to make borek are not readily available at the grocery store unless the dough has already been rolled out. It is a coveted skill in the family and friends of the person who can accomplish this delicate task with the rolling pin. After the sheets are folded into various shapes, they are filled with cheese or meat and baked or fried. There are about five kinds of borek that are served in every household as a regular part of their menu.
The Turkish cuisine also includes pilaf, which is usually made from either cracked wheat or rice. Served with steamed broccoli, a good wheat pilaf is a complete meal in itself. In Western cuisine, rice pilaf pairs well with vegetables and meats. The distinctive characteristic of Turkish pilaf is its soft buttery rice, which readily rolls from your spoon rather than sticking together in mushy clumps.
Meats on the Grill
Like the borek, the kebab is a traditional Turkish food dating back to the days when nomadic Turks would roast and grill meat over campfires. Considering the variety of kebabs, it's helpful to understand that the meat is categorized based on how it's cooked.
Most Westerners are familiar with the sis kebab and doner because Greek entrepreneurs introduced them to these dishes, and what goes well with sis kebab is grilled cubes of meat skewered on a stick.
Stacking alternating layers of ground meat and sliced lamb on tall skewers that are slowly rotated over vertical grills, doner Kebabs are prepared in the same manner. After cooking, the outer layer of the meat is roasted and sliced thinly to be served.
Aside from kebabs cooked in a clay oven, there are a range of grills that are very similar. This unique flavor comes about largely from sheep and cattle raised in open pastures by kind shepherds, rather than from special marinades and cooking methods.
Therefore, you should eat at a kebab restaurant in Turkey to taste the authentic item. Kebab restaurants range from small, family-run establishments to large, luxurious ones. If you're unfamiliar with kebabs, you should look for the well-known ones and try the less spicy types.
The classic way of preparing meat for main courses is by grilling a variety of meat cutlets. A mixed grill may include lamb chops, kofte, or shish (cubes of meat). Special ground meats called kofte are also prepared. A mixture of special spices, eggs, and grated onions is mixed with the meat and then carefully formed into balls, oblongs, or round or long patties.
One of the most popular dishes, and known to Europeans as steak Tartar, is the raw kofte, inspired by the nomadic Turks who carried raw meat in their saddle. The meat is mixed with thin bulgur and hot spices vigorously, and then kneaded for a few hours with raw double ground meat.
In addition to beef patties, cilantro is served with such Turkish restaurants which specialize in grilled meats, and are called meat restaurants. The restaurant will serve you grilled meats until you tell the waiter that you are full, resulting in a steady flow of hot food. Istanbul's best one is Beyti in Florya.
The fastest way there is by train from Sirkeci, the main train station on Europe, instead of driving through heavy traffic. Additionally, one can also observe locals, especially kids, enjoying the train to the fullest, embarking on fishing excursions and possibly an assortment of other mischiefs during their summer vacation.
Variety of vegetables
Turkish diets are based heavily on vegetables, as well as grains. Vegetables are typically prepared by slicing a main vegetable such as zucchini or eggplant into small pieces, combining it with tomatoes, green peppers, and onions, and cooking them slowly in butter. This simple dish, eaten with a large slice of fresh bread and the delicious vegetables that are grown in Turkey, is a satisfying meal for many people.
The olive oil is used to cook potatoes, beans, vegetables, and other dishes similar to the soup. Foods cooked in olive oil would typically come third in a five-course meal, after rice and borek, and before dessert and fruit.
Most vegetables, such as fresh string beans, artichokes, root celery, eggplants, pinto beans, or zucchini, are usually cooked in olive oil, and are served at room temperature. The dishes vary depending on the time of year, but remain a mainstay on the menu. Alternatively, fried vegetables like eggplant, peppers or zucchini are eaten with tomato sauce or yogurt.
Generally speaking, dolmas refer to stuffed vegetables; they're derived from the verb "doldurmak" or to fill, meaning "stuffed" in Turkish. These can be either meat-filled dolmas or rice-filled dolmas. This is generally eaten at room temperature and fried in olive oil.
The meat dolma has a yogurt sauce as a main course. Zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, cabbage, and grapevine leaves can be wrapped or filled with these herbal mixes for a dolma. It's hard to choose, but green pepper dolma with rice stuffing would have to be the king of them all. A royal delight.
The meat and vegetable dishes featured on this site include numerous unique recipes in addition to these general categories. The eggplant (aubergine) is an important vegetable in the cuisine.
These beautiful vegetables have a firm and slim body, a brown-green cap, velvety purple velvet and a velvety purple vine. Their flavor is much richer than other similar veggies. If you want to ask a Turk how to cook eggplant at a party, you will need to spend hours answering this question!
It is worth mentioning two eggplant dishes worth trying. In one, the eggplant is cut in half longways and filled with meat, and is often served with white rice pilaf. It is too difficult to make but very appealing.
It was named after Empress Eugenie, patroness of Napoleon III, who fell for the dish while visiting Sultan Abdulaziz. Lokanta are the type of establishments usually used by workers in the area for their traditional dishes.
Best examples can be found in Borsa, Haci Salih, and Konyali in Istanbul, and Liman and Ciftlik in Ankara. These places often attract businessmen and politicians for lunch. The dinner menu consists of traditional dishes, soups, and desserts, including fresh fruit.
There are so much more dishes of meat and vegetable that I can’t even remember it. If you want to taste every dish in Turkey then you have to live there for at least one year or more because they are so many in numbers and delicious also. In dessert Baklava is most famous dish of Turkey and in drinks Tea is very eminent in Turkish peoples.
We will talk about them in our next blog, till then stay tuned and enjoy this blog.