Being in Istanbul for 3 days I did a pretty good job of making sure I tried as much of the local food as possible, even if this meant eating various kebabs in between meals. Below are some of my favourite Istanbul foods which I managed to get in my belly.
Balik Ekmek – Mackerel sarnie
When you think of Istanbul what comes to mind……Donor Kebab??? Wrong. This mackerel sarnie has been pleasing the mouths of Istanbullies for years. Freshly caught Mackerel are fried up and served on ½ a baguette along with onions, lettuce, salt and a squeeze of lemon. Boats are turned into restaurants as hundreds of people head here every day for their lunch, which sets them back a measly 5 lira (£1.80). Best of all, this is washed down with Salgam Suru which is the juice of pickles, gerkins and bulgar wheat. Sounds weird, but this sweet and sour drink goes delightful with my favourite meal in Istanbul.
Wandering around Istanbul you can’t move for street vendors selling this any time of the day snack. Simits are very similar to the New York Bagel, and are topped with poppy seeds which give them a very nutty finish. For 2 lira (70p) you can stick a couple of these in your pocket and eat whenever you’re a bit peckish.
Step in to the spice bazaar and you’re in a diabetics worst nightmare. There are sweet goodies lined from top to toe ready to give the best of us a trip to the dentist. The standout pic of these, and the traditional Turkish are the Baklavas. This sweet pastry is spun in a particular way that makes it what it is, and is often filled with pistachios. Lovely.
Istanbuls answer to the Cornish pasty, this flaky treat puts the steak bake to shame. Cooked in the shape of a squashed circle these little goodies are then chopped in to bite sized pieces and sent to devour. With a choice of fillings we opted for a spinach and a beef, both as tasty as each other, we ended up packing our leftovers for an eat on the go snack later that day.
Well we couldn’t go to Turkey without trying what us Brits love, a good old Donor Kebab, however these Donors aren’t your run of the mill ‘ayf meyt, ayf chips’ served in a polystyrene box with lashings of garlic and chilli sauce. Back in the Ottoman days Turks will have fought over whose kebabs were the best, and I don’t blame them, this tasty lamb is perfectly seasoned, shaved, and served in a fresh pitta along with salad and a fresh garlic yoghurt dressing. The next time I find myself in a kebab shop at 3am after a skinfull of beer I’ll be envisaging what the real deal tastes like in this beautiful city.
Another favourite fast food of the Turks is a Pide, which in effect is an half pitta/half pizza. The dough for these pides are all handmade, handrolled, then baked with a choice of topping. The end result, is a pizza like bite with an airy pitta like middle. The parituclar pide eaten, and shown contains Suruj which is a Turkish beef sausage which is cured, and hung, similar to a chorizo. Another Turkish delight.