Northern Turkish Cuisine: Take a Colorful Walk With Me, Vegetarian Style!

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In a country where people love their kebap as much as Turkey, finding vegetarian food was a delight in itself. Treating my taste buds was a welcome bonus. While I expected to be eating a lot of mezze and aubergine, I didn’t find any till the tail end of my trip, when I landed in a small village on the outskirts of Capadoccia. I did however, sample delicious Turkish vegetarian dishes in small towns and villages along the Black Sea Coast in the north of the country, and I’ve found myself salivating as I reminisce about the indulgences!

Turkish food photos, vegetarian Turkish food, Peruhi, Turkish pasta

If you’re among the carnivores, we could bid adieu here (and you could take a virtual trip to northern Turkey… or else you’re going to get very hungry) ;-)

A treat for my first Turkish vegetarian meal outside of Istanbul, in the quaint Ottoman town of Safranboulu. 

Peruhi: Vegetarian Turkish pasta, stuffed with a bit of cheese and mint, and cooked with yoghurt, milk and olive oil. Ayran: A traditional yoghurt drink in Turkey. Similar to the Indian chaach, and served with almost any kind of food in Turkey.

Ayran drink, Turkey Ayran

Homemade dessert made from yoghurt, with a tinge of spice (can’t find the name among my notes, sigh). The owner at the cafe made this for a family celebration later that evening, and offered it after hearing that I had come all the way from Hindistan! 

Turkish dessert, Turkish food


In the small seaside town of Cide, vegetarian “home food” at a lokanta, which refers to a small eatery in Turkish.

Fasuliye: Whole Peas and legumes cooked together, served with rice and Ayran.

Turkish vegetarian food, Turkish food, Turkish cuisine


In Amasra, a seaside town popular with Turkish holidayers, the famous Turkish (vegetarian) pide!

Turkish pide, vegetarian pide


Vegetarian delights at rest stops on bus journeys.

Gozleme Patate: The closest I could get to a steaming hot aloo parantha in Turkey! Gozlemes are the most commonly available food at rest stops made by public buses plying from one town to another. They are typically stuffed with peynir, which is Turkey’s version of cheese; to me, peynir tasted like raw paneer and seemed unpalatable after the first try! If not available with patate (potato), I preferred a plain gozleme, which when made fresh, tastes savory and delicious.

Turkish gozleme, vegetarian gozleme, turkish vegetarian food


Vegetarian treats at cafes without menus, especially on northern countryside.

Nohut / Kuru fasuliye: Chickpeas / kidney beans (typically canned) served with rice. Forgive my Indian taste buds to be reminded of rajma-chawal and chhole-chawal! It is important to specify that you want this minus the meat, since the Turkish people like to garnish all their food with meat out of habit.

vegetarian food in turkey, turkish food, kuru fasuliye

Cacik: (pronounced jejik), yoghurt churned with cucumber and mint, somewhat like the Indian raita.

Turkish cuisine, cecik, vegetarian food turkey


For the sweet tooth:

Turkish delights: Too sweet even for my sweet tooth, but loved their colorful displays throughout Turkey.

Turkish delight, lokum Turkish delight

The tastiest hazelnut chocolates I’ve ever had, in the hazelnut chocolate factory in Ordu. The northern region is the hazelnut belt of the country.

Turkish chocolates, Turkish desserts, Turkey hazelnut, Ordu chocolate factory

Special Turkish coffee, made by newfound friends in my favorite Turkish town, Ordu.

Turkish coffee, Turkish coffee cups


Vegetarian delights I was too tempted to eat before they could be photographed (!):

Menemen: Turkey’s version of scrambled eggs.

Aubergine, in all forms and shapes, common in Cappadocia and the south.

Simit: Sesame-coated bagels served in carts on the streets of Istanbul.

Borek: Savory Turkish quiche typically stuffed with cheese and spinach.

Borek Turkey, Turkish vegetarian food


What Turkish vegetarian dishes would you most like to try?  

Shivya Nath
Shivya Nath is an Indian girl who fell in love with traveling, writing and social media. The first is the most thrilling, because being from a protective Indian family means every travel plan comes with a small battle. She says, "I’m not complaining. At my age, few from my hometown have traveled as much and as independently as me."

She juggles work, travel and blogging, until she finds the perfect blend of the three. Join her on her journeys around the world, as she seeks the most untouched, undiscovered of places that few have been to, and even fewer have written out.
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One Response to Northern Turkish Cuisine: Take a Colorful Walk With Me, Vegetarian Style!

  1. BuildingMyBento December 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    If Turkish delight are too sweet for you, how do you feel about many types of mishti, let alone jalebi and gajar halwa? Though there is one Turkish dessert that I think competes with mishti, tulumba.

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