15 Most Popular Foods to Eat in Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey is blessed with a variety of foods. Delicious street food can be found all around Istanbul! Here you can taste the flavourful cuisine that comes from all over Turkey. As the world’s biggest producer of hazelnuts, figs, apricots and raisins, fresh vegetables, and fruits, it is self-sufficient and has a rich culinary scene. Turkish cuisine is one of the most appetizing in the world due to the influence from its rich history and climatic conditions which allow for cultivating a variety of products and seafood from surrounding water bodies. So, here are some traditional and street food items from Istanbul one must try. 

15 Most Popular Foods to Eat in Istanbul

1. Baklava

Image Credit – The Turkish Shop

It is said to be the most popular dessert, anyone with a sweet tooth will became its fan. This king of sweets is made of layers of filo pastry, chopped nuts and then soaked in sweet syrup. After trying, you would want to take some back home.

2. Pickle Juice

pickle juice
Image credit – Wikimedia Commons

Some may love this as a breakfast drink. Though it’s basically just a by-product of pickle-making, it is a popular street drink alternative. It may taste a little spicy and might burn at first but later on, it brings freshness and relief to one’s body.

3. Pickle

Image credit: Turkey’s For Life

People here love the idea of preserving any and everything and pickling offers the possibility of preserving fruits and vegetables. The old pickle shops of the region have all sorts of pickles, from apples and tomatoes to garlic and plums and carrots. The pickle liquid may be vinegar or salt; ideally contained in glass brine, they are stored to sell or be consumed on the spot.

4. Turkish Ice-cream

turkish ice cream
Image Credit – Pinterest

Turkish Ice-cream is famous and different from the classic one due to its main ingredient “salep,” a hot drink made with milk and orchid roots, popularly known as Maras’s ice cream. As a summertime favorite, the variety of flavors and unique games and tricks played by the sellers while scooping and serving the ice cream are fun to watch.    

5. Ayran

aryan drink
Image Credit – Pyszne.Pl

It’s a summertime favorite, wildly consumed traditional drink loved by kids and adults due to its refreshing taste. Made with yogurt, water and salt, Ayran drink history dates back to nomadic Turk tribes. It is served chilled with a large topping of froth.   

6. Turkish Tea and Coffee

turkish tea
Image Credit – Pinterest

There is a popular belief that tea is the national drink of Turkey, not coffee. Called Cay in Turkish, it is loved and consumed in large amounts every day. Teas are an integral part of Turkish foods. Turkish coffee is thick, strong, sweet, and served in a small cup in most places.

7. Simit

Image Credit – YouTube

If you love baked food then these crunchy round bagels covered with sesame seeds are your heaven. Simit is the best street food in Turkey to eat for breakfast. Served best with Turkish coffee or tea, Simit is a staple breakfast-to-go. 

8. Asure

Image Credit – Rove.Me

Asure or Noah’s pudding is a Turkish dessert prepared with a mixture of grains, fruits, dried fruits and nuts. Especially served during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, it is a symbol of sharing, love, charity and unity.

9. Lahmacun

Image Credit – Unicorns in the Kitchen

This flat and crispy bread is a cheap and perfectly light lunch available on any street corner of Turkey. Lahmacun is like a pizza with minced meat, salad, onions and lemon juice topping. It can be rolled into a wrap and devoured anytime, anywhere.

10. Kabab

Image Credit – Unilever food solution

Kababs are considered to have originated in Turkey. Thus, making it one of the must-try dishes while visiting Turkey. Kabab has various cooking methods depending on the ingredients and is generally served with rice, various types of bread, onions, smoked tomatoes and green chilies.

11. Tantuni

Image Credit – Flickr

An advanced but traditional version of burrito or a wrap stuffed with beef, tomatoes, peppers and some other spices is one of the most delicious Turkish foods and if you love non-veg, then this Tantuni is your happy place. This spicy tuck is wrapped in the thinnest tortilla and usually comes in spicy and less-spicy versions, so, chose according to your taste buds.

12. Tavuk Pilav

tavuk pilav
Image Credit: Pinterest

Tavuk Pilav is the most basic of all Turkish dishes cooked from the basic ingredients- rice, salt and chicken. It’s fast, hot and filling. The Turks cook their rice in the sizzle which gives it a buttery flavor. The history of this dish can be traced way back to the very foundation of Turkish cuisine.

13. Pide

Image Credit – Rebel Recipes

Pide or “Turkish Pizza,” is a boat-shaped flatbread topped often with meat, spinach, cheese, green chilies and other ingredients as per your choice. This particular dish can be found easily anywhere in Turkey. Pide is the best Turkish food in Istanbul and is definitely a must-try.

14. Cotton candy/Candy apples

Image Credit – Makery

To date, children’s favorite street food Candy floss or Cotton candy never fails to tempt one, whether children or not. It is very common to see a cotton candy peddler in almost every street. These colourful delights are no doubt the best sweet on the streets.

15. Roasted Chestnuts

roasted chestnut
Image Credit – Vindulge

Roasted Chestnuts are perfect in the cold weather as due to their sweet taste they are the perfect option for increasing blood sugar levels and a great source of energy. You definitely won’t miss out on these chestnuts vendors in Istanbul due to the scent and warmth that emanate from their shops.

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