Ali Nazik kebab is a scrumptious, Gaziantep specialty.









Turkish cuisine has its roots in antiquity; 3,000 years ago the Hittites of Anatolia were the first humans to grow figs, apricots, cherries, almonds and pistachios, all important ingredients in the local food.  Its endurance over the years can be attributed to Turkey’s position between the Far East and the Mediterranean Sea, which enabled them to control major trade routes, and a favorable climate for plants and animals. The Ottoman Empire, which stretched from Austria to northern Africa and lasted for 600 years, used its land and water routes to import ingredients from all over the world.  Royalty perpetuated the emphasis on food and passed laws regulating its freshness.  By the 17thcentury, 1300 cooks lived in the Palace.


Meals often begin with mezes, or appetizers such as fried eggplant with yogurt, meant to whet the appetite before the rest of the meal, and are accompanied by raki, an alcoholic beverage made from grapes and anise and known as the “lion’s drink”, because you have to be as strong as a lion to drink it.  Bread called pide is served warm with dips or stuffed with meat and cheese.  In restaurants, the pide often expands with hot air when the fire flares, resulting in “balloon bread”.  Dolma are vegetables such as peppers, grape leaves or tomatoes stuffed with rice and meat. 


The most popular national dish is the kebap, or grilled meat on a skewer.  As cattle is generally raised for milk products and pork is prohibited in the Islamic religion, meat usually consists of lamb. Köfte is meat that has been minced, seasoned and made into patties.  Another local delight is borek, a pastry that has been rolled, stuffed or layered with feta, spinach or lamb.  The meal concludes with baklava, filo pastry layered with pistachios and soaked in syrup.





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