• King prawns in pastry with muhammara (kadayifli karides).
A wonderful mixture of cooking styles coexists within Turkish cuisine. Due to its geographical location nestled between Asia and Europe, Turkish food is a unique and exotic fusion with influences from many countries.
1 Jul 2008 - 9:00 AM  UPDATED 31 Mar 2021 - 11:28 AM

Since the days of the powerful Ottoman empire, Turkey has also been at the centre of trade, especially in spice, and the Ottoman chefs borrowed, adapted and perfected dishes from many other cuisines. The results of this distillation spread far beyond its borders with Turkish-style pastries (the ever-popular baklava) using filo and nuts being eaten in many neighbouring countries. The Turkish use of spices in many dishes and popular method of grilling food, particularly meat, over charcoal has also spread to neighbouring nations and beyond.

Olive trees are grown in abundance in Turkey, particularly in the west, and so olive oil is generously used. The diet here, like elsewhere in the Mediterranean, is typically rich in vegetables, herbs and fish. Other commonly used ingredients include lamb, beef, chicken, eggplants, nuts, garlic and lentils. Herbs and spices are also generously used, with cumin, pepper, mint, oregano, parsley and paprika being among the most popular. A Turkish meal typically begins with a thin soup known as a corba. Soups are usually called after their main ingredient, which may be lentils, wheat, or yoghurt. There was a time when soup was the morning meal of choice but nowadays breakfast is more likely to involve a spread of eggs, tomatoes, cheeses, jam, honey and spicy sausage. One popular breakfast dish is menemen, which consists of tomatoes, peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs.

In Australia, we are gradually learning that true Turkish food extends far beyond colourful vegetable dips, delicious pide bread and kebabs. That said, it's a great way to start! Over the past decade we've seen Turkish bread become a staple in many homes and loved in sandwich shops and cafes across the country. Also gaining popularity is the Turkish answer to sliced ham or pastrami, bastourma, air-dried beef that is coated and cured in a mixture of dried ground spices. And how could we go past a locally made authentic Turkish delight with traditional coffee to finish a meal? Delicious.


View our Turkish recipe collection here.

Turkish Food Safari recipes
Pistachio semolina cake (ravani)

With the Turkish diaspora spread throughout Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Iraq and the Balkans, it’s no wonder many countries in the region also lay claim to this recipe for a lovely light cake, made from ground pistachios with a zesty orange syrup.

Burghul pilav

This Turkish pilaf recipe is described as a "no-stir risotto", with the tomato and chilli paste adding colour and flavour. For a vegetarian version, simply use vegetable stock instead of chicken. Serve as an accompaniment to braised or grilled meats or vegetables.

Stuffed vegetables (dolma)

A colourful, fresh and clever vegetarian Turkish recipe. Try to use a range of vegetables with this rice and pine nut stuffing as they’ll look so pretty together on a serving platter.

Carrot dip (yoğurtlu havuç)

This colourful carrot dip is a Turkish classic and easy to prepare. Serve it with grilled bread and other dips as as part of a meze or as a side dish for grilled meat and fish.

Lamb kofte

Kofte are Middle Eastern sausage-shaped meatballs. They're perfect for the barbecue, the pan or the oven, says Serif. We couldn’t agree more – this recipe is simple and delicious. All it needs is a salad.

Beetroot dip (kiz güzeli)

Unsurprisingly, the hero of this dip recipe is fresh beetroot at its sweet, earthy, deep-red best. It's roasted then mixed with creamy yoghurt and garlic for a deliciously simple homemade side dish or starter.

Turkish essentials
Featured businesses: Turkish
Contact the businesses featured in this episode of Food Safari.
Tips: Turkish
These expert tips will help you achieve the perfect balance of flavours.
Utensils: Turkish
Find out which special utensils you’ll need on hand during cooking.
Key ingredients: Turkish
Make sure your kitchen is stocked with these essential ingredients.