Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry has introduced a list of top 10 appetizers along with delights of Turkish cuisine, gastronomic routes and must-visit restaurants on its official GoTurkey website.
Introducing Turkey’s tourism and cultural diversity to the world, the website has started to feature the richness of Turkish cuisine to let visitors get the authentic taste of Turkey.
Turkish cuisine is quite distinct, with each of its provinces known for their own special delicacy. The cuisine also includes a most popular appetizer called mezes, which are an indispensable part of tables with alcohol.
Meze is often defined as a selection of hot and cold dishes typically served as hors d’oeuvre, a part of Turkish, Greek and Middle Eastern cooking.
Considered to be an appetizer and cold starter, mezes are appetizer-sized dishes that are shared on the table, consisting of wide varieties of vegetables, greens, pulses, pastes, yogurt and cheese.
“Mezes are not there to satisfy you but to change the taste while you enjoy raki. In fact, many may argue that some of the best conversations take place while enjoying mezes and sipping on raki,” it said on the ministry’s webpage.
The top five cold-served mezes list of the website includes fava, lentil balls, samphire, mash, and Circassian chicken, while the hot appetizers list includes paçanga pastry, stuffed meatballs, hummus with bacon, shrimp casserole and fish kokoreç.
Fava: A kind of appetizer prepared by crushing protein-rich broad bean varieties such as peas, black-eyed peas, lentils and chickpeas, served with olive oil and dill.
Mash: Similar to the salsa served in Mexico, mash or “ezme” consists primarily of tomatoes, green peppers, onions, garlic and lemon juice that are mashed together into a thick and juicy paste-like consistency.
Samphire: It is actually a succulent dish, but if served as a meze, it is blanched and dressed in olive oil, with crushed garlic and lemon juice — similar to preparing most seasonal greens.
Circassian chicken: It is a rich paste made with crushed walnuts, chicken, and stock thickened with stale bread.
Lentil balls: Easy to make and packed with flavor, lentil balls or “mercimek köftesi” in Turkish, are the perfect appetizer, side dish, topper for a salad, or complete meal on its own.
Paçanga pastry: It is a famous Anatolian region pastry that is made with phyllo sheets, pastırma (Turkish pastrami) and cheese. The pastries are fried and served hot.
Stuffed meatballs: Balls of dough made from a mix of fine bulgur, potato, and spices are used as the outer layer. Favorite fillings include ground beef or lamb combined with ground nuts like pistachios, walnuts, or pine nuts, along with spices.
Fish kokoreç: It is a dish made with fish grilled on a spit, chopped herbs and flavored with different spices and is usually served as a sandwich.
Hurriyet Daily News