It is said that three major kinds of cuisine exist in the world; Turkish, Chinese, and French. Fully justifying its reputation, Turkish Cuisine is always a pleasant surprise for the visitor.
In addition to being the refined product of centuries of experience, Turkish Cuisine has a very pure quality. The variety and simplicity of the recipes and the quality of the ingredients are guarantees of delicious meals.
Kebabs are dishes of plain or marinated meat either stewed or grilled. Almost every district of Anatolia has its own kebap specialty. Lamb is the basic meat of Turkish kitchen. Pieces of lamb threaded on a skewer and grilled over charcoal form the famous "Sis kebab", now known in many countries of the world. "Doner kebab" is another famous Turkish dish, being a roll of lamb on a vertical skewer turning parallel to a hot grill. You should also try "Alanazik", "Sac kavurma", "Tandir" and different types of "Kofte" as typical meat dishes.
The aubergine is used in a wide variety of dishes from "karniyarik" and "hünkarbegendi", to "patlican salatasi" (eggplant salad) and "patlican dolmasi" (stuffed eggplants). It can be cooked with onions, garlic and tomatoes and served cold as "imam bayildi".
A delicious Turkish specialty is "pilav", a rice dish which is difficult for the inexperienced cook to prepare. In the Black Sea region of Turkey they make a great dish with rice and small fish called "Hamsili pilav". Another interesting dish from the same region is "Miroloto".
"Börek" are pies of flaky pastry stuffed with meat, cheese or potatoes. The delicious Turkish natural yoghurt, "yogurt", is justifiably renowned. A typical appetizer prepared with yogurt is "Cacik". And, of course, don't forget to try "Manti", with loads of yogurt.
One notable variety are the "zeytinyaglilar", dishes cooked with olive oil. "Dolma" is a name applied to such vegetables as grape leaves, cabbage leaves, and green peppers stuffed with spiced rice (Biber dolma). You should also try "Baklali Enginar" (with artichoke) and "Tekmil Lahana" (with cabbage).
Turkish sweets are famous throughout the world and many of these have milk as the basic ingredient such as "sütlac", "tavuk gögsü", "kazandibi", "helva", "asure", but the best-known are "baklava" and "kadayif" pastries.
Among the national drinks, Turkish coffee, Turkish tea, ayran, shira, salgam, sahlep and boza should be mentioned. Turkish coffee comes thick and dark in a small cup and may be served without sugar, with a little sugar or with a lot of sugar. Either way, it is truly delicious. If you like alcohol you can try "Raki" made of anise, it is called as "lions drink" because you must be strong as a lion to drink it.
Soups are coming in a wide variety. These may be light, or rich and substantial. They are generally based on meat stock and served at the start of the meal. Lentil soup is the most common and best loved variety, but there are other preferred soups such as yayla, tarhana, asiran and guli soups.
Mezes are "Hors d'oeuvres" or appetizers figuring mainly at meals accompanied by wine or raki . Eaten sparingly, they arouse the appetite before the meal proper. Examples of meze include gozleme, fried aubergines with yogurt, lakerda (bonito pre-served in brine), pastirma (pressed beef), kisir, humus, fish croquettes, and lambs' brains with plenty of lemon juice. At many restaurants a selection of mezes is brought to the table on a tray immediately after the drinks are served for the customers to make their choice.
Turkey is surrounded by several seas around hence there are also many different dishes in the Turkish cuisine based on fish, especially along the coastal areas. One of these traditional dishes is Hamsi Kofte from the Blacksea region in the north.