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Home > Guides > Top 10 dishes not to miss in Istanbul

Top 10 dishes not to miss in Istanbul

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 07:48

A living testament to the way in which people of all races and religions can live in harmony together, Istanbul brings together the most bewildering blend of influences from the East and West.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in Turkish cuisine, which is as delightfully varied, as it is delicious. A mecca of a culinary destination for food lovers from all over the world, the tastes of Istanbul are unlike those of any other country –

be sure to check out the following top-ten Turkish dishes if paying a visit:

1) Ci? Köfte
The Turkish equivalent of steal tartare, Ci? Köfte is a dish of seasoned raw meat patties reserved for special events, social occasions and regal feasts. Ingredients include pepper paste, ground beef, bulgar, onion and a fair whack of garlic.

2) Hunkar Begendi
With a name that translates as "his majesty liked it" you know you're in for a treat. Hunkar Begendi is essentially a dish of slow-cooked lamb with a rich, buttery sauce over creamed eggplant. Decadent to say the least and not one you'll need a large portion of.

3) Hamsi
Most countries across Europe have their favorite fried fish to be eaten whole and by the handful – in Istanbul said fish is the Black Sea Anchoy, aka the hamsi.

4) Kokoreç
This is where Turkish food gets a little more "exotic" as Kokorec is one of those dishes that only tend to tempt the more adventurous visitor. Why? Well, we're talking lamb intestines stuffed with lungs, kidneys and hearts to be summarily chargrilled – think Turkish haggis.

5) Lahmacun
Often referred to as the Turkish pizza, the Lahmacun is more of a wrap, which consists of a crisp round of bread, loaded with mince and greens to be rolled up and wolfed down before it leaks oil and juice all over your lap.

6) Mant?
One of the simpler dishes of Turkey, Mant? are essentially potato or meat dumplings served with garlic butter and a sprinkling of red pepper – amazing! Turkish outback food at its best which originated from the camps of nomads in need of a fast, nourishing feats around the campfire.

7) Sarma
The translation of "Stuffed Thing" gives away what to expect here – generally vegetable leaves of one form or another stuffed with either meat, onion, nuts and spices, or without the meat for veggies. Served nice and hot with a blob of yogurt they are irresistible.

8) Turkish Delight
Loved and loathed in equal numbers across the west, Turkish Delight in its original form is made with sugar syrup, dried fruits, nuts and plenty of mastic. The classic rose flavor is known to particularly divide critics this side of things, though goes down a treat in Turkey.

9) Meze
Turkish tapas and the quintessential Turkey dining experience to say the least, a Meze brings you a little bit of several different tastes of classic Turkish food to simply bombard your sense in a very, very good way. From hummus to pepper paste to calamari to olives, to nuts to tomatoes to octopus to eggplant and dozens more, there's nothing like socializing over a massive Meze with a liberal dose of raki.

10) Kofta
Any finally, the Turkish cuisine most will already have tried though not exactly in the same league as the genuine articles, Koftas are the small meatballs or sometimes sausage-shaped creations made with ground meat and spiced off the scale with incredible aromatic seasonings. Best cooked over charcoal and serves with pita bread and dips.

This article serves as a guide to the top-ten foods of Istanbul in the context of advising a visitor what to try when paying a visit.