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Turkish cuisine, is largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which canbe described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, MiddleEastern, Eastern European and Balkan cuisines. Turkishcuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, includingthose of Southeast Europe (Balkans), Central Europe,and Western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinarytraditions of their realm with influences from Levantine cuisines, alongwith traditional Turkish elements from Central Asia, creating avast array of specialities.


Simit, a circular bread with sesame seeds, is a common breakfast item inTurkey.

Turks usually prefer a rich breakfast. A typicalTurkish breakfast consists of cheese (beyazpeynir, kaşar etc.), butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam,honey, and kaymak, sucuk (spicy Turkish sausage, can be eatenwith eggs), pastırma, börek, simit, poğaça and soupsare eaten as a morning meal in Turkey. A specialty 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 forbreakfast, kahvaltı, means "before coffee" (kahve,´coffee´; altı, ´under´). After breakfast, Turkish people generally drinksTurkish Coffee.

Homemade food

Homemade food is still preferred by Turkish people. Although the newlyintroduced way of life pushes the new generation to eat out; Turkish peoplegenerally prefer to eat at home. A typical meal starts with soup (especially inwintertime), followed by a dish made of vegetables or legumes boiled in a pot(typically with meat or minced meat), often with or before riceor bulgur pilav accompanied by a salador cacık (diluted cold yogurt dish with garlic, salt, and cucumberslices). In summertime many people prefer to eat a cold dish of vegetablescooked with olive oil instead of the soup, either before or after the maincourse, which can also be a chicken, meat or fish plate.


Although fast food is gaining popularity and many major foreign fast foodchains have opened all over Turkey, Turkish people still rely primarily on therich and extensive dishes of Turkish cuisine. In addition, some traditionalTurkish foods, especially köfte, döner, kokoreç, kumpir midye tava börek and gözleme, are often served as fastfood in Turkey. Eating out has always been common in large commercial cities.Esnaf lokantası (meaning restaurants for shopkeepers and tradesmen) arewidespread, serving traditional Turkish home cooking at affordable prices.

Summer cuisine

In the hot Turkish summer, a meal often consists of fried vegetables suchas eggplant (aubergine) and peppers or potatoes served with yogurt or tomatosauce. Menemen is typical summer dishes, based on eggs. Sheepcheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelons and melons also make a light summermeal. Those who like helva for dessert prefer summer helva, which islighter and less sweet than the regular one.

Key ingredients

Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialties include: lamb, beef,rice, fish, eggplants, greenpeppers, onions, garlic, lentils, beans, zucchinis and tomatoes.Nuts, especially pistachios, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts,and walnuts, together with spices, have a special place in Turkishcuisine, and are used extensively in desserts or eaten separately..

Oils and fats

Butter or margarine, olive oil, sunfloweroil, canola oil, and corn oil are widely used forcooking. Sesame, hazelnut, peanut and walnut oilsare used as well. Kuyruk yağı (tail fat of sheep) issometimes used in kebabs and meat dishes.


The rich and diverse flora of Turkey means that fruit is varied, abundantand cheap. In Ottoman cuisine, fruit frequently accompanied meat as a sidedish. Plums, apricots, pomegranates, pears, apples, grapes,and figs, along with many kinds of citrus  are the mostfrequently used fruit, either fresh or dried, in Turkish cuisine. Forexample, komposto or hoşaf are among the main side dishesto meat or pilav. Dolma and pilaf usually contain currants orraisins. Etli yaprak sarma (vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice)used to be cooked with sour plums in Ottoman cuisine. Turkish desserts do notnormally contain fresh fruit, but may contain dried varieties.


In some regions, meat, which was mostly eaten only at wedding ceremonies orduring the Kurban Bayramı  as etli pilav (pilav withmeat), has become part of the daily diet since the introduction of industrialproduction. Veal, formerly shunned, is now widely consumed.

The main use of meat in cooking remains the combination of ground meatand vegetable, with names such as kıymalı fasulye (beanswith ground meat) or kıymalı ıspanak (spinach with ground meat, whichis sometimes served with yogurt).

Alternatively, in coastal towns cheap fish suchas sardalya (sardines) or hamsi (anchovies) are widelyavailable, as well as many others with seasonal availability. Poultryconsumption, almost exclusively of chicken and eggs, is common.Milk-fed lambs, once the most popular source of meat in Turkey, comprise asmall part of contemporary consumption. Kuzu çevirme, cooking milk-fedlamb on a spit, once an important ceremony, is rarely seen.