Discover local Turkish gems
Turkish cuisine is an ancient collection of tradition changed by the slow march of entering neighbouring cuisines. Western European cuisine contributes cheese-making techniques and vegetables, the use of yoghurt enters from central Asia, and the Middle East contributes the spices. Bread is typical throughout accompanied by beetroot, carrot, cucumber, and eggplant. Olive oil, yoghurt, tahini and hummus complete the meal. Turkish breads are cooked in brick ovens, but the Australian version is frequently cooked over hot coals. Popular dishes include the Doner Kebab, Pilaf, Dolma, and of course when it comes to the sweet stuff, Turkish Delight!
Here’s a few ideas to chew on. Pide is Turkey’s delicious take on pizza – think fragrant lamb, tender spinach and Beyaz Peymir cheese. This, by the way, is Turkey’s most popular cheese and made from fresh sheep's milk – its pure white and rindless with a grainy appearance (it can also make a rapid appearance, should you wish). Simit is a circular bread, encrusted with sesame seeds, flax or sunflower seeds. Börek is a family of filled and baked pastries made with thin, flaky dough. Hellim (aka Halloumi) Cheese is semi-hard (and kinda squeaky) and made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk. Its high melting point means it reacts very favourably when it’s fried or grilled. As, we think, will you.
Turkish desserts offer more than one delight. Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made from layer upon layer of filo crammed with chopped nuts and held together with sticky syrup or honey. Turkish Delight (or Lokum) delights more that just Turkey – it gifts the whole world with (guilty) pleasure. Premium varieties consist of chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts – all gelled together – and flavoured with rosewater, Bergamot orange, or lemon. Halva is an irresistibly dense sweet confection formed from a crystallised paste of sesame seeds and sugar. Kanafeh is made with a thin noodle-like pastry, soaked in sweet sugar-based syrup and often layered with cheese, clotted cream or nuts. You’d be nuts not to.
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