Traditional Cuisine of Turkey (Region by Region) 

Turkey has a pretty rich cuisine, and many people from other parts of the world find it quite different and interesting. Even though there is a common prejudice about Turkey cuisine is focused on meat and animal-derived products only, in reality, the options are extensive.

In fact, some of Turkey’s cuisine food is known by the whole world, such as baklava and kebab. However, there are many other dishes in Turkish cuisine with different flavors and ingredients.

Here in this article, you can find the most popular dishes of each region.

Eastern Anatolia Region: Cağ Kebab

Cağ Kebab is a kebab variety made with lamb or kid. It is quite laborious to make Cağ Kebab.

The meat to be used in Cağ Kebab must be pre-seasoned. Afterward, the meat is passed through a scorched flask to be cooked on a wood fire.

Cağ Kebab is a dish that requires quite technical knowledge.

Explore More: Kokoreç

Eastern Anatolia Region: Çiriş Ketesi

Çiriş Ketesi is a börek variety special to Eastern Anatolia Region. The most crucial feature of Çiriş Ketesi is exceptionally oily. Moreover, Çiriş Ketesi includes a weed that grows in the Ağrı region.

Eastern Anatolia Region: Doğaba

Doğaba is a soup variety made with yogurt, wheat, ground beef, flour, bulgur, and meat with bones. It is typically made in special events in Hakkari, a city in Eastern Anatolia Region. It is known to be nutritious and filling.

Black Sea Region: Hamsili Pilav (Rice with Anchovy)

In general, Black Sea Region is famous for its fish varieties. However, the most famous fish of the Black Sea is anchovy, and Black Sea people frequently consume anchovy. This being the case, anchovies were combined with various dishes in the region, and local flavors emerged.

Hamsili pilav, or rice with anchovy, is one of the most laborious dishes of Black Sea cuisine. To prepare Hamsili pilav, while rice is being prepared on one side, anchovies are sorted on the other. The pilav (rice) on hamsili pilav is not simple; it contains onions, allspice, bay leaves, currants, and dried mint.

After the rice and anchovy are ready, first anchovies are put one by one to fill the bottom of a large and round tray; pilaf is placed on top and covered with anchovies again.

Black Sea Region: Laz Böreği

Börek is a traditional Turkish cuisine dish that has many different varieties and interpretations. Among all the different variations of börek, sweet types of börek are the rarest ones. Laz Börek, or Laz Böreği is an example of that rare variety.

Laz Böreği includes phyllo dough, butter, sherbet, and pudding. Typically, Laz Böreği is prepared with a special kind of phyllo dough, which is used to make baklava. The dessert includes 20 layers of phyllo dough, each with butter and pudding.

Black Sea Region: Kuymak

Kuymak is one of the most popular dishes in the Black Sea Region. Given its popularity, the preparation method differs in each city. In general, a typical Kuymak is made with cheese and cornflour.

To make Kuymak, one needs to mix the cornmeal and oil well in a pan. Then the cheese is added on top of it (cheese type may vary, but kolot cheese is usually used). It is relatively effortless to make Kuymak, which makes it a convenient dish, especially for breakfast. It is possible to find Kuymak in almost every region of Turkey, especially in breakfast restaurants.

Southeast Anatolia Region: Baklava

Baklava is one of the most popular desserts of Turkey, if it is not already the most popular one, and belongs to a city named Gaziantep in the Southeast Anatolia region. Cooking baklava is quite tricky; it requires experience and skill.

Butter and various nuts depending on the type, are added between the layers of phyllo. When the layering and cooking are done, sherbet is poured on top.

Southeast Anatolia Region: Tepsi Kebab

Tepsi kebab is a kebab variety made in a tray. It is a very laborious dish, and it takes experience to make it. It includes minced meat, onions, parsley, pepper, garlic, cumin, pepper paste, butter, and black pepper.

After the whole ingredients are mixed and kneaded in a tray, the butter must be poured on top. Then, another mixture with pepper paste and water is being poured on top. Lastly, tomatoes and peppers are put on top, and it goes to the oven.

Mediterranean Region: Künefe

Künefe is one of the most popular desserts of Turkey and belongs to Hatay, a city in the Mediterranean region. It is made with shredded phyllo dough, syrup, and cheese. Even though the making of Künefe looks easy, it is a dish that requires technical knowledge and may result in disasters if not done correctly.

One of the main characteristics of Künefe is that it is made with unique saltless cheese. It needs to be eaten hot, and the cheese must be adequately melted.

Mediterranean Region: Adana Kebab

Adana Kebab is one of the most popular dishes of both the Mediterranean region and Turkey in general. There are many different types of kebab in Turkey, and Adana Kebab is one of those varieties.

Adana Kebab includes hand-minced meat served in an iron skewer and cooked in an open grill named “mangal.” The original Adana Kebab includes ground lamb, different spices, and lard. The shape of Adana Kebab should be long and rectangular. It is typically served on a plate. It is also possible for Adana Kebab to be served wrapped to flatbread, filled with onions and different greens.

Mediterranean Region: Babagannuş

Babagannuş is a cold and healthy appetizer widely used in the Mediterranean region. It is also very popular in Syria, Lebanon, and Philistine. The ingredients of a basic Babagannuş include yogurt, eggplant, and pepper.

Typically, Babagannuş is served with a traditional Turkish alcoholic drink, “Rakı.” Before rakı is served, many different appetizers come to the table first, and Babagannuş is one of them. It is known for being a light, delicious, and nutritious appetizer.

Aegean Region: Kabak Çiçeği Dolması

Kabak Çiçeği Dolması, (Stuffed squash blossoms) is a traditional dish of Aegean region. Insomuch that, this dish is not quite popular in other regions of Turkey. It is made by stuffing squash blossoms with rice stuffing and cooking it with olive oil.

Stuffed squash blossom is a quite light and healthy dish like the rest of the Aegean region food.

Aegean Region: Börülce (Cowpea)

Another olive oil dish from the Aegean region is Börülce. Cowpea, which is an agricultural plant, is often used in meals and salads in the Aegean region. There are several different types of cowpea in the Aegean region, but the most popular ones are dried cowpea, fresh cowpea,  and sea cowpea.

Explore more vegan Turkish food: Top 15 Vegan Turkish Dishes

Central Anatolia Region: Mantı

Mantı, often referred to as “Turkish ravioli,” is a traditional dish of Kayseri, a city in the central Anatolia region. It includes minced meat inside small dough pieces. The shape of Kayseri mantı is like a tiny ball.

Typically, mantı is served with yogurt or yogurt with garlic topped with tomato paste sauce and dried mint. It is possible to find mantı in every city of Turkey, but Kayseri Mantı differs from others in its shape.

Central Anatolia Region: Yağlama

Another traditional dish from Central Anatolia Region is Yağlama.  It is prepared from homemade lavash bread and stuffed with minced meat. It is a very heavy meal, and it is recommended to have something to drink with it, which is ayran in most cases.

The stuffing of Yağlama includes onions, pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, pepper paste, and olive oil. It somehow reminds people of traditional Turkish food “lahmacun,” but Yağlama is a lot more oily and softer than lahmacun, and the tastes are pretty different.

Central Anatolia Region: Çiğ Börek

Çiğ Börek is a börek variety, and a traditional dish of Eskişehir. It is pretty popular in both Eskişehir and whole Turkey, so it is possible to find çiğ börek in most cities of Turkey.

Çiğ börek is made with dough and mince stuffing. The dough is regularly made with flour and water, then the stuffing made from minced meat, onion, salt, and pepper is put inside.

“Çiğ” means “raw in Turkish. The reason for this börek variety to be named “çiğ” is because the stuffing cooks with the börek itself, not separately. In other words, the stuffing is implemented to börek when it is still raw and cooks with the whole börek on the pan.

Marmara Region: İskender Kebab

Another Kebab variety comes from Marmara Region. Iskender kebab is prepared with many different ingredients, including but not limited to lamb, onions, butter, sunflower oil, tomato paste, pepper paste, and many herbs.

Different from other kebab varieties, İskender kebab is served with thin slices. It is also served with tomato sauce and yogurt.

Marmara Region: İnegöl Köfte

İnegöl Köfte is a type of meatball, and it is one of the most popular dishes in Turkey. It is characterized by not having eggs in it and the balance of herbs within. It has a consistency of rubber and a puffy look.

İnegöl Köfte is typically served with onion salad, fries, or rice.

Marmara Region: Milk Halwa

Milk Halwa, or “Bursa Helvası,” is a dessert made in the Bursa city of Turkey. It might look like a simple dessert, but it requires technique.

The dessert includes butter, flour, milk, egg yolk, sugar, and vanilla. It is known to be a light dessert and has a good consistency.

İsmail Çamönü

Hi! I am Ismail. I am a digital nomad from Turkey. I lived in many cities around Turkey during my life and I am passionate about traveling. At Nomad's Guide to Turkey, I share travel tips for nomads, expats, and tourists who would like to visit Turkey.

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