Turkish Vegetarian food

I thought I should dedicate a special post for Turkish food, clubbing together with the Travel page did not do justice to either..I must say I wasn’t very ken to go Turkey in the first place, because I suspected only kebabs and shwarma and the like would be available. Then I did a lot of googling and I found out surviving as a vegetarian isn’t difficult..but when I got there I realized it’s actually easy, infact it’s more than just surviving, I actually enjoyed the food a lot!! All my khakra and laddoo packets that I had taken from home were left as it is.  So, all you vegetarians and non vegetarians as well, Turkey is going to be a treat. It’s not just “chalta hai” food, it’s actually wholesome, tasty, healthy food, even in the smallest towns I got good food.

Now let’s look at what all is in store:

Mixed mezze plate: Pretty much a staple for vegetarians, now there is stuffed grape leaves, stuffed vegetables, vegetable stews, curd based dips, fritters. All of it is served with bread, leavened or unleavened. This one was at Elif cafe just next to the Arasta Bazaar, Istanbul.

Turkish mezze mixed plate

Turkish mezze mixed plate

Zucchini fritters.

Zucchini Fritters.

Zucchini Fritters.

Pide, another staple. The cheese and herbs were so good, never had imagined a pizza without tomato sauce. The crust too makes a big difference. This one was at Doydoy Restaurant, Istanbul.

Sebzeli pide: turkish pizza.

Sebzeli pide: turkish pizza.

What do I say about this dish? One of my favorites, it makes a beautiful meal at a super low cost. Similar to Rajma rice, it was almost like home food. Flavored with tomato and chilli, the soft beans were always a great meal choice at the “lokantas” or cafetarias throughout the country, The pilaf too was pretty good. It’s called kursufaliye. Had this at a restaurant outside Sulemaniye Mosque.

Kursufaliye aka turkish rajma rice

Kursufaliye aka turkish rajma rice

Gozleme, a turkish version of our parathas, they would be stuffed with a variety of fillings , from cheese and spinach to potatoes and meat and what not. Always a good choice because they are easily available. This one is at Han Restaurant in Sultanahmet.

Cheese and spinach gozleme

Cheese and spinach gozleme

Falafel, not Turkish at all, but I did enjoy them in Istanbul. Had them at Makarna Sarayi Restaurant, near the Cemberlitas tram station.

Falafel

Falafel

Gozleme again, had these at a roadside stall outside Emigan Park for just 4 TL, normally one would have to pay 10-15 TL at a restaurant in Sultanahmet, or about 6-8 TL at a place in Goreme.

Gozleme being prepared

Gozleme being prepared

Mado’s icecream, brilliant is what I would say, it had a deep deep taste. The strawberry and pistachio flavors were amazing.

Mado's ice crea, pistachio and strawberry

Mado’s ice crea, pistachio and strawberry

Kumpir. another street snack, it’s popular around the Ortakoy and IStiklal areas in Istanbul. It’s baked potato with atleast a 100 dressings, which include olives,salads, couscous,mayonnaise,sauces..all for 12 TL, more than enough for a meal. Had this at a stall in Ortakoy.

Kumpir at Ortakoy

Kumpir at Ortakoy

Kadayif, one of the many syrup based turkish deserts. So it’s vermicelli stuffed with pistachios and fried in butter and then in sugar syrup. Makarna Sarayi,Cemberlitas,Istanbul  does a good job.. .

Kadayif

Kadayif

Another favorite, a walnut-tomato based spread, very mediterranean. Can’t say if it widely available, I had this at Neyzade Restaurant in Istanbul.

Walnut tomato Spread

Walnut tomato Spread

Manti, which is typically stuffed with meat. But Neyzade Restaurant does a good job at making a vegetarian version stuffed with cheese. The sauce was wonderfully flavored.

Vegetarian manti

Vegetarian manti

Gavurdag salatsi, a delightful light but flavorful salad. Walnut and pomegranate molasses add zest to it. Had this Neyzade Restaurant.

Gavurdag Salatsi

Cig kofte, by far my favorite dish. Really really tasty. It’s made with bulgur wheat and lentils, and it’s liberally flavored with pomegranate sauce. Had this at Osman/Usman Cig Koftesci, between Cemberlitas and Beyazit tram stations, IStanbul.

Cig Kofte

Cig Kofte

Pide again, this one is mushrooms flavored. ad this at a local restaurant in Selcuk.

Mushroom Pide

Mushroom Pide

Another star, that’s white colored ayran in the glass. It’s nothing but buttermilk, you get it tetrapacked everywhere, but the fresh one is even nicer. And that’s dolma/sarma on the right. It’s grape leaves stuffed with herbed rice and dipped in olive oil. Damn tasty. Had this all the time, but the best one was at a roadside shack near Selcuk. While walking towards Epesus, you’ll come across a farmside shack on the right, about 5 minutes from the town.

Ayran and sorma/dolma

Ayran and sorma/dolma

Cherries, these were the juiciest ones I’ve had.

Cherry season

Cherry season

Gozleme again, this one was at Cafe Safak in Goreme, on the main street.

Gozleme aka Turkish aloo paratha

Gozleme aka Turkish aloo paratha

Pide being made in the huge ovens.

Pide making

Pide making

Borek, another wow kind of Turkish dish. Stuffings are similar to those of Gozleme. The sauces too were beautiful. The best ones were Nazar Borek in Goreme.

Borek stuffed with cheese and spinach

Borek stuffed with cheese and spinach

Mezze again, this is the best I’ve ever had, at the Top Deck Restaurant,Goreme. Plenty of vegetable based dishes. And you need to prebook!!

Mezze at Top Deck Restaurant, Goreme.

Mezze at Top Deck Restaurant, Goreme.

Manti again, at a place in Goreme.

Kayseri Manti

Kayseri Manti

Typical Turkish breakfast, bread, olives, tomato,cucumber, dry fruits. Had had enough of it. And the bread was always very good.

Typical turkish breakfast.

Typical turkish breakfast.

Aside, a Cappadocian desert. it was flour with grape molasses. Can’ say if it was the best thing, but if you’ve had an indain seera or halwa, this one wouldn’t be a very good choice. But not bad at all, @ Nazar Borek, Goreme.

Aside: grape molasses "seera"

Aside: grape molasses “seera”

Pastry stuffed with spinach and cheese. A good change from the bread-olive kind of breakfasts. Had this at a Baklava store in Gaziantep, near the Fort.

Pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach

Pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach

Baklava, the eternal Turkish desert. There is marked difference between the baklava you get Gaziantep and anywhere else.

Gaziantep Baklava

Gaziantep Baklava

Gaziantep Baklava

Gaziantep Baklava

Katmer, a 5* Turkish desert.  Dough,stuffed with cheese and fried in butter and then again in sugar syrup and served with warm milk and garnished liberally with pistachios,  it’s a great way to start your day. Had this at one of the shops near the Fort in Gaziantep.

Katmer

Katmer

Breakfast in a village near Nemrut Dagi. I went on a tour wit Kommagene Hotel, they took us to this village near Arsaemia. The breakfast was top notch, homemade honey,jams, cheese and vegetables all served with whole wheat unleavened bread.

Kurdish breakfast in a village

Kurdish breakfast in a village

Kurdish breakfast in a village

Kurdish breakfast in a village

Food at Lizbon Guest house, Sanliurfa. I dont know what I would have eaten otherwise in Urfa, a predomonantly non vegetarian city. There was Pepper-aubergine fry in a omato-egg based sauce on one day, baked potato on another, and a bulgur “khichadi” on another. And there always was yogurt-bulgur soup. It was nice to have homemade food for 2 days.

Kurdish dinner at a homestay, shakshuka and bulgur soup.

Kurdish dinner at a homestay, shakshuka and bulgur soup.

Bulgur with aubergine

Bulgur with aubergine

You can’t get enough of deserts in Turkey. Another big player is the Kunefe, which is cheese stuffed inside semolina, and fried and “sugar syruped”. You just need to get yourself a plate when in Urfa.

Kunefe

Kunefe

THE place to buy baklava in Istanbul. Bought loads of baklava from here, pistachio as well as walnut. About 40-50 TL per kilo. Baklava here is bought from Gaziantep.

Karakoy Gulluoglu

Karakoy Gulluoglu

So this is all about food. I had a lot of good food, I also bought home a lot of goodies, baklava from Karakoy Gulluoglu, Turkish delight from the Spice Bazaar, cheese and olives and spices from around the Spice Bazaar area and  Apple Tea from a departmental store. So going vegetarian is not only easy, bu it is also a delight in Turkey. There’s so much variety, you can never go wrong with anything. BUT..you need to explore a little, I met a lot of indian travelers who had just explore the restaurants on the main street and were not happy with the food scene. So do a little exploring and you’ll be rewarded!!

Hope you guys enjoyed reading my page.

A brief summary of my Trip to Turkey.
Being Vegetarian in Turkey
4 Days in Istanbul.
Selcuk and Ephesus.
Priene-Miletus-Didyma
Afrodisias:The Best Graeco Roman Ruins
4 Days in Cappadocia.
Gaziantep
Nemrut
Sanliurfa

16 thoughts on “Turkish Vegetarian food

  1. Nice ! After seeing your food pictures, I conclude that the turkish cuisine is somewhat like the Greek cuisine – though you don’t seem to have a lot of salads… Or may be you didn’t choose to eat salads!:-) Do they use feta cheese in any of their preparations?

  2. Thank you so much for all the pictures and the info. My friend and I are going to Turkey in April for 3 weeks and we are both vegetarians. This was extremely helpful for us to know before we ventured out!

  3. I didn’t even know we have vegeterian foods. :) If you like these small variety of foods, I can’t imagine non-vegetarian you as well. :)

    I like your blog, way you presented it and hope see you in Istanbul again.

    • Thanks Mesut for visiting. When I come to Turkey the net time, I’ll definitely give some non-vegetarian foods a shot, will quite being a vegetarian fo sometime. And I’m sure there would be a lot many more items made at home, not available outside.

  4. Fantastic blog on Turkey. Specially, this Vegetarian Food Section have made Turkey trip so easy for many Indians. We are going to Turkey (Istanbul, Cappadocia, Izmir & Bodrum) for 10 days with kids (6 year & 4 year) and worried about food part being a vegetarian. My kids love Olives & Pizzas but we were not sure for how long would they be able to survive. You have saved at least 10 KG of food stuff – Khakhra, Thepalas, etc. for us with this blog!

    I am going to take color print out of your food section to make sure we try most of the items that you have mentioned ;) Thanks a lot Ashwin!

    btw – I found your blog through TripAdvisor where there are many good other trip reports worth checking.

    • Thanks Saumila, glad you find my triplog useful..haha and I too did take khakra and chivda, but atleast half of it came back. But be careful with the stews and beans, they could be cooked in meat broth. But pizzas(pide) and mezzes and salads are always great. And borek and gozleme.

  5. Ashwin- Thank you for the wonderful info. We are going to Turkey today and this will come in very handy though we do need to find foods without eggs and cheese as well.

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