This was recommended in my Lonely Planet guidebook but it was with local Istanbul VTer Stream&Rain that was able to help with finding the shop...just in Eminou in the main street behind Eminou near the Eminou mosque.
We bought a range of Turkish Delight - very nice!
Traditional Turkish icecream is made from milk, sugar, salep flour and mastic gum. These two last ingredients make it stretchy and thick. Salep is a kind of flour made from the bulbs of several kinds of wild orchids. Because the source is rather limited, nowadays the guar gum is commonly used instead. As for the mastic - it's a type of resin from the shrub related to pistachio tree. Another distinctive feature of Turkish icecream is that it melts really slowly, which is especially great on a hot day.
When it comes to buying dondurma from the street vendors, be prepared to get involved in a real show. A salesman is dressed in a traditional costume from the Kahramanmaras region (southeastern Turkey). He attracts the customers by ringing the bells in his stall. Then he fills the cone and now the whole game begins. He seems to be giving you your icecream but in the last moment he plays a trick and you grab the air instead of your cone. The whole thing keeps repeating for several minutes to the joy of people standing around. Finally you get your icecream for which you have to pay 10 TL. After all, it's a treat with the show.
Dondurma is sold in Istiklal Street and in other places all over Istanbul.
Okay I know you are going to ask what this is....I am trying to decide if I should tell you or not and just let you order and try it out for yourself, that is what I did. But since you can see the label on the photo I will say that it is Fermented Carrot Juice. No, I did not make a mistake, I read the label very clearly.... The taste is unexpected, I finished the whole bottle. Make no error, this is a VERY local custom. Our local friend tells me that it is usually only found in a very small area of Turkey.
"Simit" is the most traditional quick breakfast of a Turkish local, accompanied by some cheese and a Turkish Tea of course .... :)
There are hundreds of street vendors with their specific red carts on streets selling "simit" even as early as 06am in the morning for the ones going to work on a busy day. You can hear the street merchants generally advertise simit as fresh (Taze Simit) since they are baked throughout the day. Besides street vendors, also the bakerys sell simit, too, but the taste does differ some and most people prefer the ones of the vendors.
Simit also very well loved for the 5pm teas and break times in companies, to give a short break and drink a tea with a simit till waiting to the dinner time as reaching home ....
I strongly advise you to taste one, even the vendors sell small packed cheese, juices etc on their little carts. Enjoy this yummy taste .. :)
Turkey is surrounded by seas which contain a large variety of fish. Fish are grilled, fried or cooked slowly by the bugulama (poaching) method. Bugulama is fish with lemon and parsley, covered while cooking so that it will be cooked with steam. The term pilaki is also used for fish cooked with various vegetables, including onion in the oven.
In the Black Sea region, fish are usually fried with thick corn flour. Fish are also eaten cold; as smoked (isleme) or dried (ciroz), canned, salted or pickled (lakerda). Fish is also cooked in salt or in dough in Turkey. Pazıda Levrek is a seafood speciality which consists of sea bass cooked in chard leaves. In fish restaurants, it is possible to find other fancy fish varieties like balık dolma (stuffed fish), balık iskender (inspired by Iskender kebab), fishballs or fish en papillote. Fish soup prepared with vegetables, onion and flour is common in coastal towns and cities.
In Istanbul's Eminonu and other coastal districts, grilled fish served in bread with tomatoes, herbs and onion is a popular fast food. In the inner parts of Turkey, trout alabalık is common as it is the main type of freshwater fish. Popular seafood mezes include stuffed mussels, fried mussel and fried kalamar (squid) with tarator sauce.
Popular sea fishes in Turkey include: anchovy hamsi, sardine sardalya, bonito palamut, gilt-head bream çupra or çipura, red mullet barbun(ya), sea bass levrek, whiting mezgit (allied to the cod fish) or bakalyaro, swordfish kılıç, turbot kalkan, red pandora mercan, tırança, istavrit and white grouper lagos.
Seaside districts as like Besiktas, Kadikoy, Eminonu, Kumkapi, Karakoy, Bostanci and so many others are famous for their wet markets. Besides sorts of fish, also always fresh shrimp, lobster, shells, squid, mussels are available for your buying and enjoyment ... :)
"Herbs and spices" have been used by mankind since ancient times for a variety of purposes. Sometimes a wild flower, the bark of a great tree or the fruit of a bush, spices show infinite variety in their form, characteristics and function.
It is generally believe that spices were first used in the Far East. The spread of spices used since antiquity in China and India to all corners of the globe began nearly 2000 years ago. At the same time spices have historically been used in other parts of the world as well; one of the oldest of these areas is Anatolia, where spices began to be brought from various regions of Africa as flavor enhancers. Today spices are used most heavily by the inhabitants of South Asia. Of course the use of spices is also quite common in Europe and America; herbs and spices are very important in the cuisines of Italy, Spain, Portugal and France.
Turkey is also one of the countries with the heaviest use of spices; they have an especially vital role in the cooking of the Southeast.
Below are mentioned the major spices used traditionally in Turkish cuisine, as well as those which have entered our food culture in more recent times ... :
1. Red Pepper Flakes (Pul Biber)
2. Dry Oregano (Kekik)
3. Dry Mint (Nane)
4. Cumin (Kimyon)
5. Sumac (Sumak)
6. Urfa Pepper (Isot)
7. Nigella Seeds (Corek Otu)
8. Pine nut (Dolmalik Fistik)
9. Sesame seeds (Susam)
10. Ginger (Zencefil)
You don't have to be in Istanbul to enjoy the best spices. Fresh spices are found everywhere from the local bazaars and markets to the largest supermarkets. In fact, most spices used in "Turkish Cuisine" are easy to find wherever you are. Just look in the spice section of your favorite market and enjoy .... :)
"Kır Pidesi" is a very well known and eaten local food in Turkey ... Its a kind of pide (pita) and made with ingredients of cheese, chopped beef, spinach, potato, depending on your own taste ....
Its sold almost everywhere, at bakerys and small restaurants and especially consumed by younger people and students as its such cheap with 1.- TL each, aprrx. 50.- cents of each.
I strongly advise you to taste one, and of course accompanied with a superb "Turkish Tea" .. :)
"Leblebi" is a kind of snack made from roasted chickpeas, very common and popular in Turkey. It is sometimes roasted with salt, hot spices or dried cloves. There is also a candy coated variety. Particularly, leblebi of Corum and Elmalı are famous.
There are two different kinds of leblebi: dehulled leblebi (Sarı Leblebi and Girit Leblebi) and nondehulled leblebi (Beyaz Leblebi and Sakız Leblebi) in different parts of Anatolia. It was known in Anatolia for centuries, and from there it was introduced to North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and some Asian countries by Turkish people. In Turkey, a significant amount of leblebi is produced and exported. Also, some Middle Eastern countries produce small amounts of leblebi. The main leblebi-producing region is Corum. Furthermore, there are many more local leblebi types that are produced and consumed in very small amounts in some regions of Turkey and called depending on local customers.
The young creators of LEB have breathed new soul into this old-time favorite and created over ten flavors of leblebi. Salty: paprika or garlic covered, extra crispy or plain roasted chickpeas make a delicious and healthy snack. Try the chocolate, honey-sesame or turkish coffee covered leblebi, or go for the nostalgic leblebi sekeri (candied leblebi).
One of the best things about LEB is its youthful and creative design and packaging ideas. You can get your leblebi in a box, jar or gift boxes -combine flavors and enjoy either on the go, or surprise friends with this unique gift. Make sure to eat while fresh: You’d never imagine chickpeas could taste this good ... :)
"Yedi Sekiz Hasan Pasa Firini" is an amazing bakery located in Besiktas district of the city. Opening doors very early, always full of customers of all ages, buying for home, for office and even to eat on the go to catch the next boat to asian side ...
Even the bakery’s name is weird and is named after a legendary 19th century Besiktas guard whose name can be translated as Seven-Eight Hasan Pasha. Its a family run business as u can see father and son working in same place.
As u enter the bakery, u will be greeted with old newspaper clippings, children’s drawings, portraits and a tv at the far corner, probably there to keep the bakers company. Trays full of cookies, bread and crackers are being taken out of stone ovens by each moment. They make the best "visneli mekik" you’ll find in Istanbul – something like elliptical sponge-cakes made with almond flour and topped with a sour cherry. Other famous products of this bakery include the acıbadem kurabiyesi, almond cookies and the coconut macaroons- perfect when straight out of the oven.
Its located just at the heart of the Besiktas, at the pedestrian zone, easy to reach by foot, "cookies with history" shall be tasted ... :)
Locals love to have a good breakfast as a day start-up, actually thats more a get-together tradition of each family rather than just eating in the mornings .. :)
Before going to school, work, sports whatever, the family members gather at the first meal of the day and have their time together in a traditional Turkish family.
A regular well known Turkish breakfast includes white bread, butter, jam and/or honey, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheese, cold meats, fruit juice, perhaps eggs and of course Turkish Tea. But the new generation now also includes coffee.
If you have guests or on Sundays where people have more time for a longer perioded breakfast, more elaborate selections are offered such as hard-boiled eggs, a single egg "sunny-side up" cooked and served in a tiny copper skillet called a "sahan", as well as omelets, chunks of sesame-based "helva", cut and peeled tomatoes, cucumber, sweet peppers and variations of homemade phyllo dough and cheese pastry called "Börek".
Another great breakfast classic with eggs is called "Menemen." Its a juicy, spicy version of scrambled eggs with onions, red and green peppers and tomatoes and has a great taste.
In place of breakfast sausage, slices of "sucuk", a spicy type of salami, and "pastırma", a type of cured beef covered with a thick layer of spices are served together with eggs and are a main ingredient in omelets.
Soup is also a common staple for breakfast in many homes, especially during the winter months.
You will find yourself searching the markets for the best quality olives and cheeses, seeking out the freshest tomatoes and becoming an expert at blending teas to make that perfect aromatic brew each morning.
Here you can read my detailed "Turkish Tea" review ... :
If you have time in the morning, a leisurely breakfast on a sunny porch served with lots of brewed black tea and the daily newspaper is a must. But many people on the run take advantage of the many bakeries that open early selling fresh bread and many varieties of soft rolls with fillings like cheese, black olive paste, mashed potato and chocolate.
Don't pass up the "Simit", a sesame-covered bread ring sold in bakeries and more infamously by street sellers everywhere. There's nothing like a "simit" with melted cheese inside to start the day.
Enjoy the "Turkish Style" breakfast ... :)
"Beyoglu" on Taksim Istiklal Street is famous with a special chocolate since 50's. This nostalgic chocolate is produced by a family firm "Zambo" and told that it has a secret formula. They are sold with a silver pack or without packing.
You can find this chocolate at most of the kiosks on "Istiklal Street" but the most famous kiosk is opposite to Benetton, on your left.
A great taste for sure you have to give a try ... :)
Kanlıca is so much identified with its yoghurt that Istanbulites think of Kanlıca when yoghurt is mentioned and of yoghurt when Kanlıca is mentioned. Macurlar Neighborhood, situated on the skirts of the town where yoghurt producers were settled, was then called as “yoghurt makers’ neighborhood”. It is said that Huseyin Reis Effendi, one of the local people, was the first to introduce this yoghurt to the neighborhood. Yet the one who made it famous was Ismail Hakkı Bey, the owner of Ismail Aga Kahvesi. What carried the fame to other towns was the castor sugar put on the yoghurt. But then these production facilities were closed one by one.
Today, there is only one place that makes Kanlıca yoghurt in the traditional way: Kanlıca Doga Yogurdu. This is the legacy of Sabri Bey, who played an important role in making Kanlıca yoghurt better. The owners changed a few times after the death of Sabri Bey, but the tradition remains today. In the shop opposite the pier, both daily production and sales are made.
The most important aspect of Kanlıca yoghurt in comparison to others is that it is natural. There are no additives in it. No protection materials to increase the shelf life are added in the yoghurt or shocked milk. Purely natural milk from the villages of Beykoz is processed daily in the production facilities. The yoghurts produced here are sold to restaurants, cafes, and the ships passing through the Bosphorus.
Well adviced to eat as u visit the asian side of the city ... :)