Many people might not be as familiar with Turkish dishes as other cuisines from around the world, but that’s not to say the nation doesn’t have a lot to offer in terms of delicious meals. Here is our guide to what and where to eat if you’re planning to go on a cheap holiday to Turkey soon.
Head to its markets
If you really want to get an idea of how Turkish food should taste, make sure you spend some time at markets in the destination you are holidaying at. These souks offer great opportunities for you to tuck into freshly-prepared food, made with local ingredients and to age-old recipes.
The Grand Bazaar marketplace in Istanbul is brilliant place to visit if you love your food, as well as if you fancy the idea of immersing yourself in one of busiest locations in the country. Up to 400,000 shoppers pass through the bazaar on a daily basis.
It is extremely easy to get lost here, with 5,000 stalls spread out over 60 streets, but areas are split into product groups, so keep an eye out for fresh fruit and vegetables and you’ll discover the food section. One thing you’ll definitely find here is huge piles of colourful spices. Take this as a chance to learn more about the ingredients by speaking to vendors – or you could buy some to bring back with you and recreate the delicious stews and kebabs you taste here.
Smaller markets also often have food sections, so whether you’re in Istanbul where you can sit at one of the many restaurants or cafes in the Grand Bazaar and tuck into local fare, or you’re staying in a small resort by the coast, you’ll find a bazaar selling food. Marmaris, for instance, has a vibrant market on Thursdays, and this is a great opportunity to pick up locally-grown fruit and vegetables – you could even test your culinary skills and add these to a few recipes if you’re staying in a self-catering apartment during your stay.
Enjoy fast food – Turkish style
While the idea of having fast food might not sound appealing when you’re on holiday, think again. Turkey’s fast food is very different from our own, and you can swap your pictures of takeaway joints for street vendors, and greasy pizzas for delicious pastries.
A popular street food is borek – baked filo pastry with scrumptious fillings. Try pogagca (buns) or simit, a bread ring, for something to eat while you’re on the move. You can find a range of healthy options as well, such as roasted chestnuts and stuffed mussels. My favourite is corn on the cob cooked on the street – you can choose to have yours boiled or roasted and season it with butter and salt for a really tasty and easy snack.
Of course, one thing that will be similar to home is the famous Turkish kebab – you can expect these to be a lot tastier in the country they originated from and you can choose doner kebabs, lamb cubes on a skewer or kofte, a mince meat patty.
Somewhere else that really shows off how delicious Turkish cuisine can be is the seaside. Let’s face it, lots of people head to Turkey on a package beach holiday where they can soak up the sun and sea for a couple of weeks. By doing this, travellers are giving themselves an excellent opportunity to sample one of the country’s best types of cuisine – its seafood.
Whether you are by the coast or not, fish is a staple part of the diet in Turkey and, of course, when it has been caught by fishermen that day, it will inevitably taste as good as it can. You can find fish and seafood included in a variety of stews served with rice. Or, for a simple yet delicious meal, choose to have your fish or seafood grilled. This brings out its natural flavour and, seasoned with a splash of lemon juice and eaten with salad and rice, is a truly tasty, yet understated, meal.