Want to learn about Turkish food? Looking for Turkish recipes? Read Özlem Warren's guide below, then check out our Turkish recipes. We also have guides to Iran and Oman. Next discover 10 things to love about Georgian cuisine.


Words and recipes extracted from Özlem's book Sebze: Vegetarian Recipes from My Turkish Kitchen (£28, Hardie Grant). Photography: Sam A Harris. Recipes are sent by the publisher and not retested by us.

My homeland Türkiye is a melting pot of diverse flavours with thousands of years of culinary heritage. Surrounded by the Aegean, Black Sea and the Mediterranean, it has varying climates, fertile soil and many ethnic communities that contributed to regional cuisines. Bountiful, seasonal produce is consumed throughout the country and excess produce is pickled and turned into paste to be used out of season.

The Marmara region carries the legacy of the Ottoman palace kitchens and its ethnic communities. Meze, vegetables cooked in olive oil, pickles and a variety of desserts are a legacy from the Ottoman period. You can also find fine examples of regional flavours in Istanbul, as the city is made up of migrants from across the region. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Greek, Armenian and Kurdish residents of the city all contributed to the local cuisine. Mainland Anatolia cuisine is largely based on wheat, legumes, savoury pastries and mutton. Eastern and southern Anatolian cuisine is rich in bulgur-based dishes, kebabs and flavourful condiments such as pomegranate molasses and pepper paste. The Black Sea region produces the nation’s tea leaves, hazelnuts, corn and collard greens, along with the much-loved anchovies. The milder climate in the Aegean and the Mediterranean lends itself to seasonal fruit and vegetables, olives, herbs and wild greens. There is a variety of seafood and wines from this region.

Hospitality and getting together to enjoy food is an important aspect of Turkish culture. The Turkish saying ‘Başımın üstünde yerin var’, meaning ‘I place you at the top of my head’, for me sums up Turkish hospitality perfectly. We Turks put guests first and foremost in our thoughts, and always welcome them with generous hospitality.

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Turkish recipes

Çilbir (Turkish-style poached eggs in garlicky yogurt)

This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy eggs. It was part of Ottoman palace banquets and a favourite of Mehmed the Conqueror. At home, çılbır is generally enjoyed as a hot meze. I also like serving it as part of a leisurely weekend breakfast, lunch or a light midweek supper – it’s a versatile dish.

Turkish poached eggs swirled into yogurt on a plate

Öcce (spring onion fritters)

These delightful, herby fritters are a popular speciality, especially in the Gaziantep, Kilis and Hatay regions. Locals make them with lots of spring onions, herbs and fresh garlic, when in season. There are many variations throughout the country, where, for instance, grated courgettes can be added, as in our popular kabak mücveri. In the south, locals use a special öcce pan with hollows. A non-stick, wide pan will work just as well. Serve with a garlicky yogurt dip.

Occe (spring onion fritters) on a plate

Fistikli un kurabiyesi (pistachio shortbread cookies)

These delicious, crumbly shortbread cookies are a national favourite. My mother would make them for her afternoon tea gatherings and special occasions when I was a child, and now my children adore these, too. You will find them in Turkish pastanes (patisseries), either plain or with nuts or dried fruits.

Fıstıklı un kurabiyesi (pistachio shortbread cookies) on a plate next to a coffee

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