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A Taste of Istanbul: Five Dishes To Try

It's an excellent time to head to Turkey. The weather is good and the pound is strong, so much so that you'll get around an extra £70 on every £500 you spend! And what better way to make that extra value count than with some excellent Turkish food?! Here are some of our recommended dishes to try in the heart of Turkey: Istanbul.

Part of the adventure when visiting somewhere new is exploring the local culture, it's people and it's history. Naturally, food plays a big part in all of this, so it would be rude not to explore that side of it as well.

Let's get the obvious part out of the way first, as most of you will opt to sample a kebab whilst in the fair city of Istanbul. Widely available and of higher quality than those on offer down our high streets, a kebab in the Turkish capital will be something to savour. Perfect for a quick bite to re-energise after a morning of exploration, a hearty combination of slow-cooked meat with a generous helping of sauce and salad all wrapped up in a cosily warm pitta bread will most certainly have you coming back for more.

Another one you've probably heard of, but might not think of, is kofte. Again, meaty and hearty, but in small packages. Kofte is a staple of a Turkish diet and is usually a ball of ground beef or lamb served with either a stew, bread, yoghurt or over a salad. Varying in quality, you can expect to see this on the menu at many restaurants and on the food stalls down the road from them. Not to be confused with cig kofte (bulgur wheat served with flat bread and salad), kofte will probably be referred to as 'turkish meatballs' when you undoubtedly try to replicate them at home.

kuzu tandir

Next up is kuzu tandir, a real treat to look out for. This dish is essentially roasted lamb, with 'tandir' referring to the method of cooking used for centuries by the Seljuk Turks. Cooked in a special oven made from a pit in the ground, the lamb is suspended over coals by hooks before it is covered and left to cook for hours. Typically served with a choice of rice, potatoes or yoghurt, the meat is often shredded into bitesize pieces. The result is some of the most tender meat you are likely to eat, don't miss out.

Istanbul's locals know how to serve up a mean breakfast as well and if you don't believe me, sample menemen for yourself and then argue. At a basic level, menemen is an upgrade of scrambled eggs, though in reality it is a taste sensation. Another example of slow cooking, the eggs, once barley beaten, are added to an already bubbling pan filled with tomatoes, onions, peppers and pepper flakes to create a delightful combination all with a delightful little kick from the pepper. Served with hot bread, either spoon it up or dip it it, but it won't be there long!

pide

Anyone for pizza now? No, we're not off to Italy, instead we're ordering what looks and even sounds like a Turkish relative of the Italian's most famous dish. Pide is flatbread's answer to pizza, as it is warmed up and split open so it is in the shape of a canoe (for practical reasons). Then, a la pizza, it is accompanied by a choice of toppings, though these are most typically cheese and spinach or minced meat. If you're constantly on the go in Istanbul, expect yourself to have a few of these on the move.

Fancy a taste for yourself? See our deals to Turkey here.

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