If there’s one thing I love, it’s starting the day right with a good, hearty breakfast. I’m sure you could already tell that from posts like my Coconut Granola and Sweet Potato Skillet Hash, but when I’m in foreign countries, the first meal I’m always dying to sample is the breakfast goods.
So I was really pleased to learn that breakfast in Turkey is a filling and delicious affair, not to mention vaguely healthy with the appearance of a few vegetables (I say ‘vaguely healthy’ because once you see some of the other items of the table, you may not be convinced!)
While staying in Istanbul, we visited a local all-day breakfast cafe twice, because their service was prompt and the food was delicious. Here are some of the traditional Turkish breakfast dishes we sampled.
Bread may seem like it shouldn’t awarded a place on a breakfast list, especially when it isn’t the star of the show, but in Turkey, bread is a big deal. It is served with, or baked as, part of every meal as far as I can tell, and a good breakfast cafe will offer several different types. Here we had a white crusty baguette, a wholemeal soft baguette and – my favourite – a thin, foccacia-type bread topped with seeds and an egg wash. There was always too much for us to finish between us, but once you start using it to mop up the other dishes and eat it with spreads, you quickly start to see the bottom of the basket!
Platter of Cheese, Vegetables and Spreads
At most hotels and hostels in Turkey, you will be served a breakfast buffet or platter consisting of cheese, tomatoes, cucumuber and olives, along with several spreads. In this particular cafe we were given three different types of cheese, boiled eggs, a homemade cherry jam (delicious) and tahini paste, along with a cucumber, dill and yogurt spread.
Kaymak is often jokingly referred to as “Turkish crack” and you can quickly understand why. Much like with cakes that get similar names, it is because this particular dish is extremely addictive and delciious. Kaymak is basically clotted cream, most always served with honey, and when the two are spread together on soft fresh bread, it is heavenly. If anyone in the UK has eaten a fresh scone with clotted cream and jam, then that will go some way to imagining how delicious this is. The honey is also not like cheap shop-bought honey; it has a texture and blunt sweetness to it unlike any I’ve tasted before, which makes it much more delicious. This is a must-eat dish, and it makes it even more naughty that you get to eat it for breakfast!
Menemen is basically Turkish scrambled eggs. I actually made a recipe for it myself while in our apartment in Istanbul, which I will share with you all at some point. It is a base of tomatoes and peppers cooked over a high heat, into which eggs are then scrambled. It is much more rich and tomatoey in flavour than, say, Mexican scrambled eggs, and if it is made right, it should have a slight heat from the peppers.
Baked Turkish Eggs with Sausage
Alongside Menemen on almost every breakfast menu, you will see something resembling fried eggs with sausage, which is basically all that this dish is. The sausage used tastes a lot like Merguez sausage, with a spicy and peppery kick to it. Although delicious, I much prefer Menemen, simply for its depth of flavour.
Gozleme is a savoury pastry which is cooked over a griddle and filled, usually with vegetables, meat or cheese (in this case it was spinach and cheese). It tastes almost like a thick, buttery crepe with a crispy outer coating.