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.
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.
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.
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.
Falafel, not Turkish at all, but I did enjoy them in Istanbul. Had them at Makarna Sarayi Restaurant, near the Cemberlitas tram station.
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.
Mado’s icecream, brilliant is what I would say, it had a deep deep taste. The strawberry and pistachio flavors were amazing.
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.
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.. .
Another favorite, a walnut-tomato based spread, very mediterranean. Can’t say if it widely available, I had this at Neyzade Restaurant in Istanbul.
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.
Gavurdag salatsi, a delightful light but flavorful salad. Walnut and pomegranate molasses add zest to it. Had this Neyzade Restaurant.
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.
Pide again, this one is mushrooms flavored. ad this at a local restaurant in Selcuk.
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.
Cherries, these were the juiciest ones I’ve had.
Gozleme again, this one was at Cafe Safak in Goreme, on the main street.
Pide being made in the huge ovens.
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.
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!!
Manti again, at a place in Goreme.
Typical Turkish breakfast, bread, olives, tomato,cucumber, dry fruits. Had had enough of it. And the bread was always very good.
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.
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.
Baklava, the eternal Turkish desert. There is marked difference between the baklava you get Gaziantep and anywhere else.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Afrodisias:The Best Graeco Roman Ruins
4 Days in Cappadocia.