Street food is ready-to-eat food or drink sold in a street or other public place, such as a market or fair, by a hawker or vendor, often from a portable stall. In Turkey, "Midye - Mussels" come in two forms:
*** Midye Dolma - stuffed mussels with rice, pine nuts and raisins, eaten cold with lemon and olive oil,
*** Midye Tava - mussels on a skewer, that are fried in oil, and eaten with a garlic sauce.
One of the most amusing little bites is undoubtedly, the "midye dolma - stuffed mussels".
The mussels are filled with cinnamon and pepper seasoned rice and served on the go with a squeeze of lemon. The carts topped with stacks of shiny mussels and lemon is a temptation any time of the day, but especially at night, Istanbulites seem to enjoy these bite sized treats even more.
At night time, you can see "midye dolma" sellers at the popular spots such as Nevizade, Asmalımescit, Ortaköy where nightcrawlers flock by the carts to indulge in this filling midnight snack..
Well, its said that some people have records of eating 50 pieces of shells at a time, if its not an urban legend .. :)
My trip to Istanbul was actually a football trip, meaning that we drank quite a few beers during our time in the city. Interesting enough we only drank Efes Pilsener beer, if I remember correctly.
The Efes Brewery is named after the Turkish town of Ephesus, which is located near Izmir. Here the first Efes brewery was founded in 1969. The company is a subsidiary of the Anadolugu group; the market leader in Turkey and many other countries in the region.
When I met VT member revontulet and a work mate of hers for dinner, they recommended to me to try Salep.
Salep is a popular winter drink in Turkey and other countries of the former Ottoman Empire. It is usually made with hot milk which is flavoured by the flour of the tubers of wild orchids. Cinnamon is dispersed on top of it.
In winter salep is available in restaurants and cafes, but also from street vendors. From shops like Koska (see my shopping tip) it can also be bought as a sort of powder to mix the drink at home.
This syrupy sweet treat - dessert ring - is made from semolina and deep fried. It's very rich. You can find these in street carts all around Istanbul. Not one of my favorites, but a definite must-try!
Istanbul has a lot of guys who is selling chestnuts at their little colorful wagons that are parked around the city.
They are usually found on the busy streets and by the bridges and i think they add to the good vibe of the city while they are selling their nice nuts.
Try some sweet, tasty chestnuts!
You'll see hawkers selling these, along with corn on the cob (boiled or roasted).
Their carts are found around Sultanahmet area, especially beside Hagia Sophia, as seen in photo 2, at the far right. They have a distinctive red & white striped roof - hard to miss!
Sold in various sizes (100, 150, and 400g), costing from 4/5/10 YTL. Served in little paper cups.
It seems a lot of locals prefer eating the corn on the cob, particularly men - young boys and grown men! Prices for the corn ranged from 1 YTL (roasted) to 1.50 YTL (boiled & buttered).
Save room for dessert!! Baklava is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough that is filled with chopped nuts such as pistachios, walnuts or pecans. It is usually sweetened with syrup or honey. In Turkey it is sweetened with sugar. It is so sweet and juicy, and just melts in your mouth! It is prepared in large trays and then cut into square/rectangular pieces. Baklava can be served at room temperature, rewarmed, or even cold. I think room temp was best.
Although it it not certain, baklava is thought to have originated in the Ottoman Empire. It is further suggested that in its current form, baklava was developed in the Topkapi Palace kitchens.
Be sure to bring some home with you!! There are sweet shops all around Istanbul. The store I kept returning to was Ali Usta Burma Kadayif & Baklava. (It was not far from the Beyazit tram stop towards Cemberlitas on the left side of the street.)
An easy Baklava recipe from TurkishCook.com
1 glass melted margarine
1 glass of ground walnuts
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
250 g flour
750 g sugar
Knead flour, salt and a glass of water to a dough. Fold dough and knead again. Cover with a damp cloth and leave for some time.
Divide dough into 8-10 pieces. Spread starch on it and roll out as thin as possible. Place half of it into a pan, pouring margarine on each layer. Spread walnuts evenly on it and place the remaining layers with margarine between one upon the other. Cut into squares. Pour the remaining margarine evenly on the baklava. Bake in medium hot oven for about an hour.
In the meantime put sugar in a saucepan, cover with water, add one tablespoon lemon juice and boil to a heavy syrup. Pour it upon the lukewarm baklava, a little at a time, so that baklava absorbs the entire syrup. Serve cold.
Of course, while in Turkey you must try some of the many street foods. After first having simits, and then tea, we came upon this vendor and decided to try the kestanes (chestnuts). This was one thing I had never tried on a NYC winter's street but decided to give it a try in Istanbul. It was not for me - found the texture a little strange. Was too full to try the misir (corn on the cob), which I know I would have enjoyed!
The misir was 1.50 TL and the kestanes were 5 TL for 150g.
A nice filling meal I had one evening, was a Savoury Pancake.
I had Lamb, and it was filled with capsicum, mushrooms and other vegetables as well as the Lamb. It was served folded on my plate, (a big pancake) and with potato chips and some salad, plus bread as well. It was very filling, and nice, and cost only 11t/l
I couldn't eat it all it was so big!
This was a Country where I didn't expect to see vendors carrying food for sale on their heads.
Mainly, it was the type in the photo, and some when I was sitting beside the sea, carried a stool, which pulled apart so they could sit their tray of food on it. Clever!
I did notice, that they have a hollow round that they sit on their head before putting the tray on it.
While maybe not a "local" custom as such, seeing roasting chestnuts was not something that we are used to in Israel, so for us trying them was a mini adventure. You can find them on all the corners of the city and it costs only a few YTL for 100 grams or you can ask for a larger package. It was fun eating this finger food as we walked the cool autumn streets of Istanbul.
The Kumpi is a fantastic "fast food" in Istanbul. In the first photo you can see me with two portions (yes one is for the wife). The Kumpi is very simply a baked potato, but not a simple potato, it is a HUGE potato, had never seen any like this...
The second photo shows a closeup of what a Kumpi looks like with some of the "mixings". Basically they slice the potato in half, then dig out the inner flesh of the potato, mix it with butter and then replace it in the skin. Then you fill the resulting "V" shape with just about anything you want, up to, but not, including the kitchen sink...
Some of the various "toppings" were sauerkraut, onions, mayonaise, peas&carrots, mustard, sliced hotdogs, tomatos, cream cheese, pickles...and, and, and. They had an entire showcase full of options. YOU pick and choose or just put them ALL, its up to you.
This made for a surprisingly delicious meal, enjoy.
If you happen to like sweet things or chocolate, then give the Elit Chocolate that we "found" on Istiklal Street a try. We saw people lining up to purchase here so we naturally went to take a look. We found small to medium sized packs of chocolate wrapped in aluminum foil without any other packaging. We tried several kinds and enjoyed them all. Just look for a small corner kiosk with foil wrapped items in the front, that will be the chocolate.
Ayran is a yogurt-based drink that is served in almost every restaurant & cafe in Istanbul, as well as Turkey for that matter. It is basically yogurt mixed with water, and salt is added. Ayran is usually drunk with a meal, but is also enjoyed as a refreshment on its own. Personally, this is one of the few traditional Turkish cuisine items that I don't particularly care for. I have tried it on several occasions, but it is just something about the saltiness of it that doesn't sit well with me. But by no means should this discourage you from trying it, as millions of people here love it! :)
Simit is a semi-tough bread that is in the shape of a ring, and covered with sesame seeds. As you walk the streets of Istanbul, you will see it being sold all over by vendors. Most of the vendors sell it out of little carts or stands, but some even have a stack of it on top of their heads! Wherever they have it, make sure you pick some up! It is a great snack to have while strolling through the city!