For a few years, now, there has been a growing trend in Turkey. And, as far as we’re concerned, our hometown of Fethiye is right up there as one of the leaders. We’re talking about Turkish breakfast – and the restaurants that serve it!
Take a stroll along Fethiye harbour, late morning or early afternoon on any given Sunday, and you’ll see what we mean. Places like Boğaziçi, Çarıklı Et, Mancero and Denizatı Restaurant will be packed with breakfast diners.
Head into villages like Kayaköy and the situation will be the same.
It’s A Shared Experience
Groups of friends and families sat around restaurant tables, chatting and eating from a multitude of small plates. Plates filled with all the foods that make up the traditional Turkish breakfast.
And you should be part of a group if you are going to get the absolute most from your Turkish breakfast experience.
What Is A Typical Turkish Breakfast?
If you’ve visited Turkey and sat in your budget hotel or hostel. Or you’ve sat in a small cafe and ordered a Turkish breakfast platter for yourself, you could be forgiven for wondering what the fuss is all about.
Because you might have been served a plate resembling the photo below…
Your Typical Turkish Breakfast Ingredients:
- Two types of cheese – usually a slice of white cheese (beyaz peynir) and a slice of kaşar (this type of cheese is also the type used to top your pide)
- Hard boiled egg – sometimes very hard boiled
- Black and green olives
- Single portions of jam, honey, butter. And, if you’re lucky, a chocolate hazelnut spread
- Thinly sliced salami of some description
- Fruit – again, if you’re lucky
- Basket of bread
- Glass of çay (Turkish tea)
- Glass of fruit juice – if you’re lucky
And that’s your typical Turkish breakfast at many places. All healthy and wholesome. And, if the ingredients are top quality, you can still have a really tasty breakfast that will fuel you until it’s time for your evening meal.
Turkish Breakfast Culture – Before Coffee
But Turkish breakfast culture is so much more than sitting down to those few typical ingredients.
In Turkish, kahvaltı is the word for breakfast. It’s a shortened version of the two words ‘kahve altı,’ literally meaning ‘under coffee.’ Turkish breakfast is the meal you sit down to before you drink any strong Turkish coffee.
So that’s the first point: When sat with friends, grazing your way through a table that is spilling over with Turkish breakfast ingredients, there will always be çay. Lots of çay!
Numerous glasses of Turkish tea will be quaffed throughout the whole experience. Topped up from the çaydanlık that is usually placed at the end of the table. They who sit at that end of the table are responsible for the topping up of the çay glasses for the rest of the group.
A Traditional Turkish Breakfast Experience
‘Köy Kahvaltısı’ (village breakfast) or ‘Serpme Kahvaltısı’ (breakfast spread) are the phrases you are looking for if you want a truly memorable Turkish breakfast experience.
We’re talking about the type of experience where you sit with friends and chat – and graze – and laze. Whiling away the morning – and part of the afternoon – dining on what can only be described as a Turkish breakfast banquet. This is not an experience to be rushed…
Plate after plate will find its way to your table. More often than not, your Turkish village breakfast ingredients will be local. Some of the fruit and vegetables will be grown in the grounds of the eatery. Whilst jams, butter, yoghurts and spreads will be homemade.
And your eggs will usually be village eggs; maybe even laid by the chickens on the premises. Particularly with the village Turkish kahvaltı; it’s all about celebrating local ingredients.
Yes, the typical Turkish breakfast plates mentioned at the beginning of this article will all be present on your table. But prepare your senses for the spectacle, the quality and variety of plates that are placed before you. And delight in all of these typical ingredients – and many more besides…
Turkish Breakfast – Those Added Extras
We can’t give you a full list of all those extra treats that make a Turkish breakfast experience so special. Restaurants will go out of their way to impress diners with the variety on offer. And no two experiences are the same. Even if you dine at the same place more than once.
Here are just a few of the sights and flavours we’ve been fortunate enough to delight in during our Turkish breakfast-eating career.
Doesn’t it all just to look good enough to eat? And it’s not just us who gush about this particular dining experience, so no need to take only our word for it. When we polled our readers about their Turkish cuisine favourites, Turkish breakfast came out a resounding Number 1!
- We’ve got a whole host of Turkish cheeses. Look out for the strong, tangy, crumbly tulum cheeses topped with walnuts.
- Be sure to tear your bread and dip it into each of the homemade jams. Strawberry, cherry, apricot and rose jams are common.
- If there’s kaymak on the table, you’re in for a real treat. Kaymak is a type of thick clotted cream. Drizzle some local honey over the top…ambrosia! Oh, and if there’s honeycomb on the table, don’t skip that.
- Don’t worry about eating in any particular order. Sweet and savoury can be mixed. Spread jam and natural yoghurt on pieces of morning fresh, crisp simit. Use other chunks of simit to spread ezme, muhammara or aubergine salad over the top.
- Delve into the potato salad and nibble the deep-fried cheese rolls. Don’t be surprised to see homemade chips on the table, too. Patates kızartması – deep fried potatoes – are a common feature.
As well as sigara böreği (cheese rolls), some Turkish breakfast tables will treat you to other types of börek, too. Slices of gözleme packed with spinach and green herbs. And katmer – a hugely filling flaky pastry dish (see centre photo above). This one was filled with tahini (toasted sesame paste). Time to let those belt buckles move down a notch or two.
If you’re grazing on your breakfast with Turkish friends, you might find they’re sometimes not content with all that is laid out before them. Some will start to mix and match the ingredients and create even more tasty dishes!
Tahini and pekmez (grape molasses) can be mixed together to make a rich dip; perfect with fresh simit.
Did we just say rich? Well, how about homemade village butter mixed with local honey and roughly chopped walnuts? We were instructed to eat this atop hot toast. That is rich!
Our Guilty Pleasure
At this stage, allow us to introduce you to our guilty pleasure. Throughout this article, we’ve lauded the fresh, homegrown, local ingredients. And, yet, our guilty pleasure is none of those things.
But we are not alone in this admittance. On posting a photo to our Instagram stories one time, we were inundated with comments – yes, this dish is their secret love, too.
Allow us to present to you…kahvaltılık domates soslu sosis – cocktail sausages cooked in a tomato sauce. ‘Kahvaltılık’ means ‘for breakfast.’ Natural, they aren’t – but, terribly moreish, they most certainly are!
Don’t expect to find domates soslu sosis as part of your village breakfast. But, if you are in a hotel or restaurant and a Turkish breakfast buffet is on offer, watch how the Turkish guests lift the lids of the hot plates to peer inside.
For us – and many of them – it’s a feeling (and look) of deflation if the lifting of the lid has not revealed a vat of not-so-healthy domates soslu sosis. And, if they are present, ahh, happy days. It won’t be too long before the chef has to come out with a fresh batch!
Turkish Breakfast Recipes
And last, but certainly not least – in fact, they’re central to the table – Turkish breakfast eggs! We’ve left them until last because, although they can be just one of the ingredients on the village breakfast table, some dishes can also be standalone breakfast meals.
You might get boiled eggs, fried, scrambled – or an omelette. But there are three Turkish breakfast recipes that many people also eat as a brunch treat.
- Slice up that fresh Turkish bread into thick pieces and indulge in the delights of sucuklu yumurta, dipping your bread into the soft yolk of the egg.
- Or use your bread to mop up the juices from your spicy menemen.
- And why not blend the two together and make a Turkish eggy bread – yumurtalı ekmek.
- Mix poached eggs with yoghurt and you also get the tasty brunch dish, çılbır.
A long, leisurely Turkish breakfast with friends is not just a meal to stop those hunger pangs. It’s a true experience that will fill you with happy memories – an experience not to be missed when you’re in the country.
And, if time is short – or you just want to enjoy a brunch – well you can’t go far wrong with the Turkish breakfast eggs above.