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Nutritional habits are shaped according to the prevalent cultural - geographical - ecological - economic
characteristics and features and the historical process.
When one talks about the Turkish cuisine, the term should be understood as the totality of foods and
beverages which provide nutrition to the people living in Turkey, the ways of preparing and preserving
them; techniques, equipment and utensils required for this, eating manners and all the practices and
beliefs which are developed around this cuisine.
The richness of variety Turkish cuisine possesses is due to
several factors. In summary, the variety of products offered by
the lands of Asia and Anatolia, interaction with numerous
different cultures over a long historical process, the new tastes
developed in the palace kitchens of the Seljuk and Ottoman
empires have all played a part in shaping the new character of
our culinary culture.
Turkish Cuisine, which in general consists of sauced dishes
prepared with cereals, various vegetables and some meat, soups, cold dishes cooked with olive oil,
pastry dishes and dishes made from wild vegetation has also produced a series of health foods such as
pekmez, yogurt, bulgur etc. The eating habits which reflect the tastes changing from one location to
the next, gains a new meaning and near - sacredness on special occasions, celebrations and
Turkish Cuisine, while rich in variety and taste-bud friendly, also contains examples which could
provide a source for healthy and balanced diets and vegetarian cuisines.
A cook is defined in the folk tradition as someone who is skillful, capable of cooking delicious food
and who has a wide reputation for cleanliness. Cooks generally prepare meals for ceremonies and
rituals such as engagements, weddings and funerals.
In conservative regions, the cook is usually a woman and may go by different names, such as yemekçi
(food provider), asganaci (a person who feeds others) and keyveni. Dishwashers and assistants help
the cook to prepare the food for ceremonies.
The cook informs the person planning to hold a feast of the necessary materials needed for each
person. She supervises the amount and the quality of the materials bought for the festivities and gives
general advice. She takes charge of the cleaning and preparation of the food, such as meat, vegetables
and cereals, and also controls the stoves and cauldrons. She does the cooking as well as serves.
The village of Mengen in the province of Bolu invariably takes pride of place in books about Turkish
cooking. It is no exaggeration to say that most professional cooks are from Mengen. A cooks’ festival
is held annually in the village, and there is also a cookery high school which contributes to the training
of even more skilled cooks.
Materials Used For Food and Beverages, Places to Prepare, Eat and Keep Food
In traditional areas, the place where the food is prepared is known as the kitchen, ocaklik, asevi,
asdami etc. Sometimes, bread, pastry or other foods which take longer to prapare are cooked in
another place called the tandir, ocak, ocaklik etc.
The kitchen is not used only for cooking. It is also a place where the family eat, sit and sometimes
sleep, and where the necessary equipment for cooking and serving is kept.
Turks usually prefer a simple breakfast. A typical Turkish breakfast consists of cheese (beyaz
peynir, kaşar etc.), butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, and kaymak. Sujuk (spicy
Turkish sausage, can be eaten with eggs), pastırma, börek, simit,poğaça and soups are eaten as a
morning meal in Turkey. A common Turkish speciality for breakfast is called menemen, which is
prepared with tomatoes, green peppers, onion, olive oil and eggs. Invariably, Turkish tea is served at
breakfast. The Turkish word for breakfast, kahvaltı, means "before coffee" (kahve, 'coffee'; altı,
'under'). In the past, Turks survived famines by minimizing the consumption of food. Therefore, in the
morning time they consumed only water and bread that would often be dry and stale from being
conserved; due to shortages in agricultural harvest. This practice was adopted into Turkish culture and
the dish was named Iratchu.
For a list of kebab variants, see List of kebabs.
Kebab refers to a great variety of meat-based dishes in Turkish cuisine. Kebab in Turkey encompasses
not only grilled or skewered meats, but also stews and casseroles.
Adana kebap or kıyma kebabı – kebab with hand-minced (zırh) meat mixed with chili on a flat
wide metal skewer (shish); associated with Adana region although very popular all over Turkey.
İskender kebap – döner kebap served with yogurt, tomato sauce and butter, originated
in Bursa. The kebab was invented by İskender Efendi in 1867. He was inspired from Cağ
kebab and turned it from horizontal to vertical.
Çöp şiş, "small skewer kebab" – a specialty of Selçuk and Germencik near Ephesus, pounded
boneless meat with tomatoes and garlic marinated with black pepper, thyme and oil on
wooden skewers.
A Turkish meal usually starts with a thin soup (çorba). Soups are usually named after their main
ingredient, the most common types being; mercimek (lentil) çorbası, yogurt, or wheat (often mashed)
called tarhana çorbası. Delicacy soups are the ones that are usually not the part of the daily diet, such
as İşkembe soup and paça çorbası, although the latter also used to be consumed as a nutritious winter
meal. Before the popularisation of the typical Turkish breakfast, soup was the default morning meal
for some people.
The most common soups in Turkish cuisine are:
Buğday aşı/Yoğurt Çorbası/Ayran Çorbası (which can be served hot or cold)
Düğün (Wedding soup)
Mercimek (Lentil soup)
İşkembe (Paunch)
Tavuk (chicken soup, with almond becomes "Bademli Tavuk")
Turkish cuisine has a range of savoury and sweet pastries. Dough based specialties form an integral
part of traditional Turkish cuisine.
The use of layered dough is rooted in the nomadic character of early Central Asian Turks .The
combination of domed metal sač and oklahu/oklava (the Turkish rod-style rolling pin) enabled the
invention of the layered dough style used in börek (especially in su böreği, or 'water pastry', a salty
baklava-like pastry with cheese filling), güllaç and baklava.
Börek is the general name for salty pastries made with yufka (a thicker version of phyllo dough),
which consists of thin layers of dough. Su böreği, made with boiled yufka/phyllo layers, cheese and
parsley, is the most frequently eaten. Çiğ börek (also known as Tatar böreği) is fried and stuffed with
minced meat.Kol böreği is another well-known type of börek that takes its name from its shape, as
do fincan (coffee cup), muska (talisman), Gül böreği (rose) or Sigara böreği (cigarette). Other
traditional Turkish böreks include Talaş böreği (phyllo dough filled with vegetables and diced
meat), Puf böreği. Laz böreği is a sweet type of börek, widespread in the Black Sea region.
Poğaça is the label name for dough based salty pastries. Likewise çörek is another label name used for
both sweet and salty pastries.
Gözleme is a food typical in rural areas, made of lavash bread or phyllo dough folded around a variety
of fillings such as spinach, cheese and parsley, minced meat or potatoes and cooked on a large griddle
Lahmacun (meaning dough with meat in Arabic) is a thin flatbread covered with a layer of spiced
minced meat, tomato, pepper, onion or garlic.
Dolma is a verbal noun of the Turkish verb dolmak 'to be stuffed(or filled)', and means simply 'stuffed
thing'.[10] Dolma has a special place in Turkish cuisine. It can be eaten either as a meze or a main dish.
It can be cooked either as a vegetable dish or meat dish. If a meat mixture is put in, it is usually served
hot with yogurt and spices such as oregano and red pepper powder with oil.
Zeytinyağlı dolma (dolma with olive oil) is the dolma made with vine leaves stuffed with a rice-spice
mixture and cooked with olive oil. This type of dolma does not contain meat, is served cold and also
referred to as sarma, which means "wrapping" in Turkish. If dolma do not contain meat, they are
sometimes described as yalancı dolma meaning "fake" dolma. Dried fruit such as figs or cherries and
cinnamon used to be added into the mixture to sweeten zeytinyağlı dolma in Ottoman cuisine.
One of the world-renowned desserts of Turkish cuisine is baklava. Baklava is made either with
pistachio or walnut. Turkish cuisine has a range of baklava-like desserts which include şöbiyet, bülbül
yuvası, saray sarması, sütlü nuriye, and sarı burma.
Kadaif ('Kadayıf') is a common Turkish dessert that employs shredded yufka. There are different types
of kadaif: tel (wire) or Burma(wring) kadayıf, both of which can be prepared with either walnut.
Although carrying the label "kadayıf", ekmek kadayıfı is totally different from "tel kadayıf"
(see [1]). Künefe and ekmek kadayıfı are rich in syrup and butter, and are usually served
with kaymak (clotted/scrambled butter).
Helva (halva): un helvası (flour helva is usually cooked after someone has died), irmik helvası (cooked
with semolina and pine nuts), yaz helvası (made from walnut or almond[14]), tahin helvası (crushed
sesame seeds), kos helva, pişmaniye (floss halva).
Other popular desserts include; Revani (with semolina and starch), şekerpare, kalburabasma, dilber
dudağı, vezir parmağı, hanım göbeği,kemalpaşa, tulumba, zerde, höşmerim, paluze, irmik
tatlısı/peltesi, lokma.
Güllaç is a dessert typically served at Ramadan, which consists of very thin large dough layers put in
the milk and rose water, served with pomegranate seeds and walnut.
Aşure can be described as a sweet soup containing boiled beans, wheat and dried fruits. Sometimes
cinnamon and rose water is added when being served.
Lokum (Turkish delight), which was eaten for digestion after meals and called "rahat hulkum" in the
Ottoman era, is another well-known sweet/candy with a range of varieties.
Cezerye, cevizli (walnut) sucuk (named after its sucuk/sujuk like shape, also known as Churchkhela in
Circassian region) and pestil (fruit pestils) are among other common sweets.