The rich history and diverse culture has an influence on Turkey’s cuisine, too. Besides the many restaurant options from traditional Turkish to world cuisine, Turkey has lots of delicious food options on the streets. Eating out is a part of daily life especially in the fast pace of the cities. From street vendors to small buffets, Turkey’s street food is full of choice. It’s whether just-out-of-the-oven simit or a balık ekmek boat there is always a tantalizing smell in the air. We listed 10 street food to taste in Turkey.
1. Simit / Bagels
Simit is a circular kind of bread dipped in molasses syrup and covered with sesame seeds. A centuries old recipe is an essential must taste street food in Turkey. Simits size, crunchiness and taste vary by region. Istanbul’s simit is different than Ankara’s and Izmir’s has its own characteristics. Often sold by street vendors on trolleys, simit is the cheapest and easiest way to eat. Generally served as breakfast with tea, cheese or honey, simit can be eaten any hour of the day.
2. Balık ekmek / Fish sandwich
Balık ekmek which is a fish sandwich is one of the most common food in Turkey, especially in coastal cities like Istanbul and Izmir. These dirt cheap sandwiches are simple: mostly a mackerel fillet quickly grilled, seasoned with salt and pepper served with lots of greens and onions, accompanied by a little touch of lemon.
3. Börek / Pastry
Börek is a family of baked or fried pastries made of phyllo. There are different kinds, based on fillings, shapes or cooking type. Fillings vary such as cheese, minced meat or vegetables like potatoes or spinach. A popular element of Ottoman cuisine, börek is an essential food around Turkey. Mostly accompanied by tea, börek can be eaten as breakfast or a snack. Found at trolleys, there are also small and big sized borek shops shops all around Turkey.
4. Çiğ köfte / Steak tartar a la Turca
Literally translated as raw meatballs, çiğ köfte is a popular street food speciality of southeastern Turkey, especially Adıyaman an Şanlıurfa. It is originally prepared by bulgur (a kind of wheat), onions, tomato, pepper and raw mincemeat. The mixture getting kneaded by hand like a dough with a lot of spices so that the meat got cooked. Although this is the traditional recipe, the version on the streets and as small franchise shops that can be seen all around Istanbul sell meatless çiğ köfte due to hygienic necessities by law. The best way to eat çiğ köfte is to roll it in a lettuce leaf and squeeze some lemon on top. Add pomegranate syrup or some chilli if you want to spice it up. Çiğ köfte is also served as wrapped.
5. Döner / Doner Kebab
Probably the most popular Turkish street food sold in other countries as well, doner kebab is made of meat cooked on a vertical spit. Served wrapped in lavash, pita or as a sandwich, the toppings include tomato, onion, lettuce, pickled cucumber and chili. Doner kebab is also served as a full meal such as Iskender kebap or on the rice.
6. Kumpir / Jacket Potato
Wrapped with foil and baked in special ovens, the potatoes are cut from the middle and insides are mixed with butter and yellow cheese. After this, all sorts of food and sauce can be added like pickles, mushrooms, sausages, olives and mayonnaise. There are a numerous selection of ingredients and you can have your custom made jacket potato. Kumpir is a popular street food especially in the Ortaköy neighbourhood of Istanbul.
7. Midye dolma / Stuffed mussels
These little stuffed mussels are a must taste for seafood lovers. It’s simply boiled mussels with a spicy rice filling inside. Just open one, squeeze some lemon and eat it in one bite. A specialty in coastal cities like Istanbul, it is hard to leave a midye dolma stall after trying one.
8. Nohut & Pilav / Rice & Chickpeas
Displayed inside a glass cabinet, nohut pilav comes with chickpeas and boiled chicken on top as your choice. Most people add black pepper as complement. Ayran, traditional yogurt drink, would be the best choice to eat like a local at a nohut pilav stall.
9. Kestane / Roasted Chestnut
Roasted chestnut is an easy snack that can be found on the streets especially at autumn and winter season. Roasting chestnuts is a tradition around Turkey. Before central heating became so popular, stoves were in use. At winter nights, it used to be a custom to gather around the stove and roast chestnuts.
10. Kağıt helva / Wafers
Mostly sold at street peddlers or at ice cream shops, a kağıt helva is a round shaped wafer and can literally translated as paper halva. Kağıt helva can be filled with ice cream or eaten plain.