Turkey’s Top 10 Most Popular Main Dishes

- Advertisement -

Turkish cuisine boasts a rich history and a diverse culinary culture that reflects its geographical uniqueness. This diversity is evident in Turkey’s top 10 most popular main dishes.

Turkey’s dishes are truly marvelous, offering an unparalleled range of flavors. They stand out from many other countries in several ways.

  • Kebab: Turkey’s Pride.
  • Manti: Delicious Secrets of Dough.
  • Lahmacun: Magnificent Flavor with Thin Crust.
  • Baklava: A Sweet Beginning.
  • Kofte: A Dance of Spices.
  • Olive Oil Dishes (Zeytinyağlılar): Healthy and Delicious Vegetables.
  • Pide: The Art of Dough.
  • Iskender: The Harmonious Dance of Meat and Bread.
  • Doner: Fast and Delicious.
  • Hunkar Begendi: The Peak of Eggplant.

01. Kebap

Adana Kebap
Adana Kebap

It is one of the easiest flavors to come by in Turkey. Kebab, which you can easily find on every corner, may vary by region. Adana Kebab is the first thing that comes to mind when talking about kebabs, but there are many other types as well.

Kebab, one of the most famous dishes in Turkish cuisine, is actually popular worldwide, not just in Turkey.

- Advertisement -

Kebabs are made using various types of meat, including beef, lamb, chicken, and occasionally fish. However, fish is not a commonly used meat category in Turkey, so fish kebabs are not popular in the country.

Varieties of kebabs include Adana kebab, Urfa kebab, skewer kebab, and doner kebab, among others. Each of them has different meat preparation and presentation styles.

Adana kebab is made with spiced ground beef or lamb, and it is seasoned with hot peppers.

Adana Kebabı
Adana Kebabı

Urfa kebab is prepared with finely minced beef, balanced with spices, and served with roasted hot peppers.

- Advertisement -
Urfa Kebabı
Urfa Kebabı

Shish kebab is made by skewering pieces of meat and grilling them on a barbecue, often served with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions.

Kuzu Şiş Kebabı
Şiş Kebabı

Döner kebab consists of thinly sliced meat that rotates on a vertical rotisserie and is typically served with lavash or pita bread.

Döner Kebabı

Kebabs are typically enriched with spices and prepared using various cooking methods, which make them uniquely flavorful.

Additional information about kebabs:
Kebabs are generally a type of meal eaten outside the home in Turkey. They are not typically prepared at home and can be quickly accessed from various restaurants or kebab shops.

Kebab prices can vary depending on the type. For example, Döner is usually the most affordable, while Adana Kebab or Lamb Shish Kebab can be among the more expensive options. Döner is the top choice for those seeking a fast and budget-friendly meal. Even in an ordinary kebab shop, your order will be ready in about 5 minutes on average. In contrast, Adana or Urfa Kebab may take a bit longer to prepare.

- Advertisement -

02. Mantı

Manti, that legendary flavor. 🙂

Manti is a traditional and popular dish in Turkish cuisine. It is prepared by thinly rolling out dough and cutting it into squares or triangles, then filling it with meat, cheese, or various vegetable mixtures, depending on preference.

Manti is usually boiled in boiling water. During this process, the dough swells, and the inner ingredients are cooked. When serving Manti, it is flavored with yogurt, garlic yogurt sauce, and sometimes hot pepper paste. This part is entirely a matter of personal taste.

Manti is considered a special delicacy in Turkish cuisine and can vary in different regions of Turkey. In some regions, meat is used as the filling, while others prefer cheese or vegetables. Kayseri province, in particular, is famous for its Manti. Kayseri Manti is a flavor known by name not only throughout Turkey but also in many other countries.

kayseri mantısı
Kayseri mantısı

Additional information about Manti:
Manti is a delicious Turkish dish that is primarily made on special occasions or occasionally. Especially, homemade Mantı is preferred. In restaurants, you can find various regional Turkish Mantı dishes.

03 – Lahmacun

Lahmacun is a Turkish dish made by spreading a minced meat, onion, and spiced mixture over a thin flatbread or lavash base.

Literally meaning “dough with meat,” lahmacun is one of the popular street foods in Turkish cuisine.

The filling of lahmacun is typically made from beef or lamb mince. Mixing the mince with onions, pepper paste, and spices results in a rich flavor.

The mixture is evenly spread over a thin flatbread or lavash, and then it is baked in the oven. This baking process creates an ideal balance where the bottom of the lahmacun is slightly crispy, and the top is covered with the flavor of the filling.

Lahmacun is usually served with lemon wedges, parsley, and tomato slices. You can further enhance the taste by adding or squeezing these ingredients onto the lahmacun before eating.

Lahmacun can be found in restaurants and street stalls all over Turkey. Homemade lahmacun is also a popular part of family meals and gatherings with friends.

Additional information about Lahmacun: Lahmacun is typically more budget-friendly compared to similar dishes. For example, it is often more economical than other types of pide. It is generally preferred for quick consumption outside the home and is not a dish that is frequently prepared at home.

04 – Baklava

“Baklava is a type of dessert made by placing nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, or hazelnuts between layers of thin pastry sheets. It is one of the most well-known and beloved sweets in Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine.

The pastry used in baklava is prepared very thinly and in a special manner. Each layer of pastry is created by brushing it with butter or vegetable oil.

Baklava is typically cut into square or triangular slices and baked in the oven. After being removed from the oven, it is drenched in fresh, hot syrup made from a mixture of sugar, water, and lemon juice. This syrup is used to add sweetness and a warm flavor to the baklava.

Baklava comes in different varieties. Some contain walnuts, some contain pistachios, and some contain hazelnuts. Recipes for baklava can vary in different regions or countries.

Baklava is a dessert often served on special occasions, celebrations, holidays, or when hosting guests.

Baklava is a sweet that requires special preparation and skill. The delicacy and perfect balance of flavors in each layer make it an indispensable part of Turkish cuisine. It is also enjoyed as a delightful dessert when served with Turkish coffee or tea.”

Additional information about Baklava: Baklava has always held its throne as the king of desserts in Turkey. 🙂 It is also relatively expensive. You can purchase it by the kilogram or get a whole tray fresh from the oven for special occasions.

Baklava is not the type of dessert that everyone can easily make at home or get the perfect consistency. It requires expertise in its preparation.

05 – Köfte

Kofte is a dish made by mixing minced meat, bread, onions, and spices, and it is one of the staples of Turkish cuisine. There are many different types of kofte in Turkey and its neighboring regions. The type of minced meat, ingredients, and spices can vary by region.

In kofte preparation, beef or lamb meat is commonly used, but there are also variations made with other types of meat, like chicken or turkey, although they are less commonly preferred.

Grated onions, finely ground bread crumbs, and various spices are added to the kofte mixture. These ingredients ensure that the kofte is flavorful and moist.

After thoroughly mixing the kofte mixture, it is shaped, often by hand-rolling or molding.

Kofte can be prepared using different cooking methods, such as frying or baking.

It can be served in various forms, like wrapped in a flatbread or as a sandwich. It can be flavored with toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and yogurt or spicy pepper sauces.

Kofte is not only popular in Turkish cuisine but also in many Middle Eastern countries. Each country may have its own unique varieties of kofte.

Additional information about Kofte: Kofte, like Lahmacun mentioned earlier, is an easily accessible fast-food option. You can get it at street food stalls or restaurants at affordable prices.

In fact, there are many variations of kofte. However, the version described here is the one you see in the images. Apart from this, there is also a version of kofte that is eaten with a spoon as a juicy dish.

06 – Zeytinyağlılar

Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması
Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarması

Speaking of olive oil dishes, that’s a topic worth exploring in its own right. 🙂

Olive oil dishes refer to vegetable dishes or, in general, dishes cooked in olive oil, and they constitute a significant portion of Turkish cuisine.

These dishes emphasize the healthy and flavorful use of olive oil. Olive oil dishes are often considered light, fresh, and satisfying.

Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolması
Zeytinyağlı Biber Dolması

Olive oil dishes are particularly consumed frequently during the summer months because they are light and refreshing.

Zeytinyağlı Patlıcan Yemeği
Zeytinyağlı Patlıcan Yemeği

Olive oil dishes are a part of Turkish cuisine and the healthy and flavorful meals of the Mediterranean region. Their preparation with fresh ingredients and the nourishing, healthy qualities of olive oil make them both delicious and nutritious.

07 – Pide

Pide is a dish made from dough and is typically filled with minced meat, cheese, or a mixture of vegetables. It is a traditional part of Turkish cuisine and is a popular street food, especially in Turkey. However, it is also served in restaurants.

The dough for pide is prepared using flour, water, yeast, salt, and sometimes vegetable oil. The dough is rolled out thinly and filled as desired.

Minced meat pide includes minced meat, onions, and spices, while cheese pide is filled with white cheese or kasar cheese. There are also other variations like vegetable pide or sucuklu (Turkish sausage) pide. However, the most common and preferred types of pide in Turkey are minced meat and cheese pides.

Pide - Etli Ekmek
Pide – Etli Ekmek

The Lahmacun I mentioned earlier is also a type of pide. However, Lahmacun still holds a special place distinct from pide.

Pide is best enjoyed hot, and its flavor is at its peak when served hot. Various types of pide offer options to suit every palate. You can find a wide variety of pides.

Especially, the meat bread (pide) of the Konya province is famous throughout Turkey. When you think of pide, Konya is the first place that comes to mind. The pides made in Konya are thinner and use a special flour or mixture compared to those in other regions.

One of the popular types of pide in Turkey is the Kasar Peynirli Pide (Cheese Pide) that you see below.

Kaşar Peynirli Pide
Kaşar Peynirli Pide

The one below is known as regular cheese pide. Similarly, it is one of the most commonly requested types of pide.

Peynirli Pide
Peynirli Pide

Besides these, it is also possible to find sucuklu (sausage) or vegetable pide.

Additional information about Pide:
Pide is typically a type of food consumed outside, either at pide restaurants or from pide vendors. The preparation of pide is labor-intensive and requires a specialized cooking area, which is why it is not commonly made at home. Pide is baked in ovens or at specialized pide restaurants and served hot. Cold pide is not preferred.

Pide prices are calculated per piece. For example, the current price for one piece of minced meat pide is around $4 (110 TL). The type of pide can affect the prices, such as cubed meat pide or cheese pide, among others.

Another interesting fact about pide is that it holds the top spot for serving large group meals at events like funerals in Turkey. So, whenever there is a need for a communal meal, the first choice is often pide. This applies not only to funeral gatherings but also to any large gathering of people.

08 – İskender

Iskender is made by placing thinly sliced meats on specially prepared pide and enriching it with sauces. It gets its name from its creator, Iskender Efendi, who lived in Bursa, in the late 19th century, during the Ottoman Empire.

Iskender is typically prepared using beef or lamb. The meats are sliced into thin pieces and seasoned with a special blend of spices. It is traditionally served with yogurt, which is considered a must-have accompaniment.

The meat slices are typically first fried or grilled. Then, they are placed on fresh pide, and meat sauce (usually made from a mixture of butter, tomato paste, and spices) is poured over them.

Iskender is particularly popular in the city of Bursa, but it can be found in many restaurants throughout Turkey. In Bursa, the meal is served in its most traditional form, especially in the original Iskender restaurants located in the Iskenderpasa neighborhood of the Osmangazi district.

Iskender is a distinctive flavor of Turkish cuisine, known for the perfect combination of meat, yogurt, and special sauce. This delicious dish is a traditional delicacy and represents an important part of Turkish cuisine.

Additional information about Iskender:
Iskender can be considered a moderately priced meal based on its taste. When you go to eat Iskender, you should make sure that the restaurant is truly making the original Iskender.

Some restaurants create a dish resembling Iskender by using simple döner meat and pide, without capturing the authentic flavor. This kind of ‘Iskender’ is not much different from a ‘döner meat on bread’ meal and cannot be considered an Iskender. Therefore, it is not recommended to have Iskender at places like bus terminals and airports.

09 – Döner

Döner is a dish prepared by stacking meat on a spit and slowly cooking it as it rotates in vertical rotisseries or on grills. Döner is one of the most iconic dishes in Turkish cuisine and is popular worldwide.

Döner meat is typically made using lamb, beef, or chicken. The meat is seasoned with special spices and marinades, and then thinly sliced.

The döner meat is usually placed on a large vertical rotisserie machine. This machine allows the meat to rotate slowly, and the meat slices are evenly cooked on the grill.

Döner meat, sliced from the rotisserie, is typically served in flatbread or pide bread. Additionally, it is often seasoned with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles.

Döner is commonly found in fast-food restaurants and street stalls. There are also specialized döner kebab shops.

While it’s common to have döner in a flatbread wrap (dürüm), you can also get it as a plate, typically served over rice.

Döner is a beloved dish both in Turkey and worldwide. Its delicious and satisfying nature contributes to its popularity. Döner is an important part of Turkish cuisine and holds a prominent place in fast food culture.

Additionally, many of the döner kebab shops in countries like Germany, Austria, and Japan are operated by Turkish entrepreneurs.

10 – Hünkar beğendi

Hünkar Beğendi is a special delicacy of Turkish cuisine that originates from the rich traditions of Ottoman cuisine.

The name of the dish starts with ‘hünkar,’ which means ’emperor’ or ‘ruler,’ and continues with ‘beğendi,’ which means ‘liked’ or ‘enjoyed.’ The name of the dish translates to ‘the emperor’s delight,’ and it is considered one of the favorite dishes of the sultans.

The main component of Hünkar Beğendi is eggplant puree. Eggplants are roasted and turned into a puree. Then, ingredients such as salt, yogurt, and grated kasar cheese are added to create a delicious eggplant puree.

The primary flavor to top the dish is usually a casserole-style meat dish made from beef or lamb. This meat dish is cooked with onions, tomatoes, pepper paste, salt, and spices.

The meat dish is spread over the eggplant puree and imparts its unique flavor to the dish.

Hünkar Beğendi is often served on special occasions, at gatherings, or in restaurants. This dish is prepared with care and presented with a delicious presentation.

The taste of Hünkar Beğendi comes from the creamy texture of the eggplant puree and the spiced flavor of the meat dish. It is one of the sophisticated and rich dishes of Turkish cuisine.

Thank you for reading! We talked about some of the essential flavors of Turkish cuisine. Turkish cuisine has hundreds more flavors. Hopefully, we’ll have the opportunity to introduce them as well.

Goodbye 🙂

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

There is more