What Are Some Traditional Cooking Methods Still Used In Turkey?

Turkey is a country known not just for its rich history and stunning landscapes, but also for its mouth-watering cuisine. From succulent kebabs to delectable baklava, Turkish food is a delight to the senses. However, amidst the rise of modern cooking techniques, there are still several traditional cooking methods that have stood the test of time in Turkey. These age-old practices not only add an authentic touch to the dishes but also preserve the cultural heritage of the country. In this article, we will explore some of the traditional cooking methods that are still widely used in Turkey, allowing you to embark on a culinary journey through its vibrant flavors and techniques. So grab your apron and get ready to uncover the secrets of Turkish cuisine!

1. Roasting

Roasting is a popular cooking method in Turkey, and there are two main ways that it is done: spit roasting and oven roasting.

1.1. Spit Roasting

Spit roasting is a traditional method of cooking meat that involves skewering the meat on a long rod and rotating it over an open flame. This method allows the meat to cook slowly and evenly, resulting in a deliciously tender and flavorful dish.

In Turkey, spit roasting is often done outdoors, with a special contraption called a “mangal” used to hold the meat over the fire. The meat is frequently marinated beforehand, allowing the flavors to seep in and further enhance the taste. This method is most commonly used for preparing succulent whole lamb or chicken dishes.

1.2. Oven Roasting

Oven roasting, on the other hand, is a more modern approach that still holds true to the traditional flavors of Turkish cuisine. It involves placing the meat or vegetables in a roasting pan and cooking them in a conventional oven. This method is particularly popular for dishes such as roasted vegetables, chicken, beef, and kebabs.

Oven roasting allows for controlled and consistent cooking, as the temperature can be easily adjusted. The result is often a dish with a beautifully caramelized exterior and a moist, tender interior. Many Turkish households still prefer to use this method for preparing their favorite roast dishes.

2. Grilling

Grilling is another beloved cooking method in Turkey, and it offers a unique and delicious flavor to various dishes. There are several traditional grilling techniques used, including “mangal,” “şiş kebab,” and “balık ızgara.”

2.1. Mangal

Mangal is a traditional Turkish grill used for cooking meat and vegetables. It typically consists of a charcoal or wood-burning grill, where the heat is carefully controlled to ensure the perfect cooking temperature. The meat is often marinated and then placed directly on the grill, allowing the flavors to infuse and create a mouthwatering dish.

Mangal is not only a cooking method but also a social activity in Turkey. Friends and family often gather around a mangal, enjoying the process of grilling together while sharing stories and laughter.

2.2. Şiş Kebab

Şiş kebab is a classic Turkish dish that is commonly prepared using the grilling method. Skewers of marinated meat, usually lamb or chicken, are grilled over an open flame, resulting in tender and juicy kebabs. This method of grilling ensures that the meat is evenly cooked and retains its succulence and flavor.

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Şiş kebab is often served with traditional accompaniments such as rice pilaf, grilled vegetables, and bread. It is a popular street food in Turkey and can be found at many local kebab stands and restaurants.

2.3. Balık Izgara

Balık ızgara, or grilled fish, is a delightful Turkish dish that showcases the country’s coastal culinary heritage. Fresh fish, such as sea bass or mackerel, are seasoned with herbs and spices, then grilled to perfection. The result is a dish that is both simple and incredibly flavorful.

Grilled fish is typically served with a squeeze of lemon and a side of salad or grilled vegetables. It is a beloved summer dish that is often enjoyed by the seaside, where the smell of smoky fish fills the air.

3. Boiling

Boiling is a cooking method used in various traditional Turkish dishes, especially soups and pilaf.

3.1. Çorba

Çorba, which translates to soup, is an essential part of Turkish cuisine. Various ingredients such as lentils, vegetables, and meat are combined and cooked in boiling water, resulting in a comforting and nourishing dish.

Çorbas can be found in countless variations across the different regions of Turkey, each with its own unique combination of flavors and ingredients. Some popular choices include red lentil soup, yogurt soup, and chicken noodle soup.

3.2. Pilaf

Pilaf, known as “pilav” in Turkish, is a beloved traditional dish made by boiling rice in a seasoned broth. The rice absorbs the flavors of the broth, resulting in a fragrant and flavorful side dish.

Pilaf can be made with various ingredients such as vegetables, meat, or even dried fruits and nuts. It is often served alongside grilled meats or stews and is a staple in Turkish cuisine.

4. Steaming

Steaming is a gentle and healthy cooking method that is used in Turkish cuisine for various dishes, particularly for dumplings and seafood.

4.1. Mantı

Mantı is a Turkish dumpling dish that is steamed to perfection. These small dumplings are typically filled with a mixture of ground meat, onions, and spices, then folded into small pockets and cooked in a steamer. The result is a tender and flavorful bite-sized treat.

Mantı is often served with yogurt and a drizzle of melted butter, topped with a sprinkle of sumac or paprika. It is a popular dish for special occasions and family gatherings.

4.2. Hamsi Buğulama

Hamsi buğulama, or steamed anchovies, is a specialty dish from the Black Sea region of Turkey. Fresh anchovies are cleaned and marinated in a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and spices. They are then placed in a pot with a little bit of water and steamed until tender.

Steamed anchovies are served with sides such as rice, salad, or pickled vegetables. The delicate flavors of the fish shine through in this simple yet incredibly satisfying dish.

5. Baking

Baking is a versatile cooking method that is widely used in Turkish cuisine, particularly for bread, pastries, and savory dishes.

5.1. Pide

Pide is a type of flatbread that is rolled out and baked to perfection. It is typically topped with various ingredients such as cheese, meat, or vegetables, then baked in a hot oven until golden and crispy. Pide is a popular street food in Turkey and is often enjoyed with a glass of ayran, a refreshing yogurt-based drink.

5.2. Börek

Börek is a savory pastry made with thin layers of dough that are filled with various ingredients. It can be baked in a variety of shapes, such as spirals or triangles, and is often filled with cheese, spinach, or ground meat. Börek is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a snack, breakfast, or even a main course.

5.3. Pastries

Turkish cuisine is renowned for its delectable pastries, which are often baked to perfection. From sweet treats like baklava and kunafeh to savory options like sigara börek and su börek, Turkish pastries offer a delightful combination of flavors and textures. These pastries are made with layers of delicate dough and filled with various ingredients such as nuts, cheese, or vegetables.

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6. Sautéing

Sautéing is a quick and flavorful cooking method that is frequently used in Turkish cuisine to prepare meat and vegetables.

6.1. Saç Kavurma

Saç kavurma is a delicious dish made by sautéing thinly sliced meat, typically lamb or beef, in a large, shallow pan called a “saç.” The meat is quickly cooked in its own juices, resulting in tender and flavorful pieces. It is often seasoned with herbs and spices, such as paprika and garlic, to enhance its taste.

Saç kavurma is a popular choice during festive occasions and is often served with rice, salad, and bread.

6.2. Sitruk Kızartması

Sitruk kızartması is a traditional Turkish dish made by sautéing sliced vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers, until they are tender and slightly caramelized. The vegetables are typically seasoned with herbs and spices, then cooked in olive oil or butter.

Sitruk kızartması is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own, served as a side dish, or used as a topping for other dishes. Its vibrant colors and rich flavors make it a favorite among both locals and visitors in Turkey.

7. Frying

Frying is a popular cooking method in Turkish cuisine and is used for a variety of dishes, from crispy appetizers to main courses.

7.1. Kızartma

Kızartma refers to deep-fried dishes that are typically made with vegetables or seafood. Some popular examples include zucchini fritters, eggplant fries, and crispy squid rings. The ingredients are coated in a batter or bread crumbs and then deep-fried until golden and crispy.

Kızartma dishes are often served as appetizers, mezes, or side dishes. They are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and make for a delightful snack or accompaniment to other dishes.

7.2. Tava

Tava is a traditional Turkish cooking method that involves shallow frying meat or vegetables in a large, flat pan called a “tava.” The ingredients are cooked in a mixture of vegetable oil and butter, resulting in a dish that is rich in flavor and texture.

Tava dishes can be made with various ingredients, such as chicken, beef, lamb, or vegetables. They are often seasoned with herbs, spices, and garlic to enhance their taste. Tava dishes are popular for their simplicity and versatility.

7.3. Deep Frying

Deep frying is a cooking method used to prepare various Turkish delicacies, such as crispy borek, doughnuts, and lokma. The ingredients are immersed in hot oil, resulting in a dish that is golden and crispy on the outside, while retaining moisture and tenderness on the inside.

Deep-fried dishes are often enjoyed as a special treat or dessert, accompanied by a cup of Turkish tea or coffee. While they may not be the healthiest option, they are undeniably delicious.

8. Smoking

Smoking is a traditional cooking method in Turkey that adds a distinctive smoky flavor to various dishes, particularly dairy and cured meats.

8.1. Tulum Peynir

Tulum peynir, or Turkish smoked cheese, is a popular type of cheese that is made by smoking it over a fire. The cheese is placed inside a tulum, a traditional goatskin bag, and then hung in a chimney or over a fire. The smoke infuses into the cheese, creating a unique and rich flavor.

Tulum peynir is often enjoyed on its own, served as part of a cheese board, or incorporated into various dishes. Its smoky aroma and creamy texture make it a favorite among cheese lovers.

8.2. Pastırma

Pastırma is a highly seasoned, air-dried beef or lamb that is cured with a special combination of spices and then smoked. The meat is typically coated with a mixture of fenugreek, garlic, and paprika before being hung to dry and absorb the flavors.

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Pastırma is commonly eaten as a cold cut or used as an ingredient in various dishes such as sandwiches, stews, and omelets. It is known for its intense flavor and aromatic spices, making it a beloved ingredient in Turkish cuisine.

9. Fermenting

Fermentation is a traditional cooking method used in Turkish cuisine to preserve and enhance the flavors of various ingredients.

9.1. Yoğurt

Yoğurt, or yogurt, is a staple in Turkish cuisine and is made through the fermentation of milk. The process involves adding live bacterial cultures to milk and allowing it to sit at a warm temperature, which triggers fermentation. This results in a thick, creamy, and tangy yogurt that is enjoyed in a variety of savory and sweet dishes.

Yoğurt is a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into sauces, soups, marinades, or enjoyed on its own as a refreshing side dish or dessert. It is recognized for its probiotic properties and is known as a healthy addition to a balanced diet.

9.2. Tarhana

Tarhana is a traditional Turkish staple that is made by fermenting a mixture of wheat flour, yogurt, vegetables, and herbs. The mixture is fermented for a few days, then dried and crumbled into small pieces. These pieces are later used to make a flavorful and nutritious soup.

Tarhana soup is a comforting dish that is often enjoyed during the winter months. It is rich in flavors and nutrients, thanks to the fermentation process that enhances the taste and nutritional value of the ingredients.

9.3. Salgam

Salgam is a traditional Turkish fermented beverage made from fermented red cabbage, turnips, and carrots. The vegetables are finely chopped, mixed with salt, and fermented in large barrels for several weeks. The resulting liquid is tangy and slightly fizzy, with a unique flavor that is both refreshing and savory.

Salgam is commonly enjoyed as a beverage alongside meals, particularly spicy dishes. It is a popular drink in the southern regions of Turkey, where it is known for its ability to cool the body and aid digestion.

10. Curing

Curing is a traditional method of food preservation that is still widely used in Turkey, particularly for meat products.

10.1. Sucuk

Sucuk is a popular cured sausage in Turkey that is made from ground meat, usually beef or lamb, mixed with spices and garlic. The mixture is stuffed into a natural casing, then left to cure and dry for several weeks. The result is a flavorful and spicy sausage that can be enjoyed cooked or cured.

Sucuk is often grilled, pan-fried, or even used as a pizza topping. Its distinctive taste and texture make it a favorite ingredient in many Turkish dishes, from breakfast eggs to sandwiches.

10.2. Pastırma

As mentioned earlier, pastırma is a cured and smoked meat that is widely used in Turkish cuisine. The meat is seasoned, coated with a spice mixture, then pressed and left to cure for several weeks. Once cured, it is usually air-dried further, resulting in a firm and intensely flavored meat.

Pastırma is often enjoyed thinly sliced, served as a cold cut or used as an ingredient in various dishes. Its rich and bold flavors make it a popular addition to breakfast spreads, sandwiches, and mezze platters.

In conclusion, Turkish cuisine showcases a rich array of traditional cooking methods that have been passed down through generations. From roasting and grilling to boiling and fermenting, each method brings its own unique flavors and textures to a wide variety of dishes. Whether you’re enjoying a succulent roasted meat, a sizzling grilled kebab, a comforting bowl of soup, or a delicate pastry, the traditional cooking methods of Turkey are sure to satisfy your taste buds and leave you craving more. So next time you’re exploring Turkish cuisine, be sure to try these traditional cooking methods and experience the delicious flavors they offer.