Turkish Breakfast- the best in the World!

Turkish Breakfast- the best in the World!

Traditional Turkish breakfast

Famous Turkish poet Cemal Sureyya said that “I don’t know what you think about eating, but there is a relationship with breakfast and happiness!”. What a well said quote!!

Okay, what is the reason for this sympathy for breakfast? This is also related to family and friendship in Turkish culture. And, Turkish people like to spend time with family and friends during breakfast, especially at weekends. When the time increases, the type of food increases. And then boom, here is the legendary Turkish breakfast. I don’t like to exaggerate, but we still think that Turkish breakfast is the best in the world.

Turkish breakfast

What does a Turkish breakfast consist of?

Here is the list of what a typical Turkish breakfast consists of;

  • Turkish tea
  • Menemen (egg with vegetables)
  • Egg with sucuk (Turkish style fermented food, “soudjouk” or “soujouk”)
  • Egg with pastirma (the preserve of dried meat, “pastrami”)
  • Cilbir- egg with yogurt (a dish made of poached eggs and yogurt)
  • Borek (patty)
  • Gozleme (Turkish pancake)
  • Simit (Turkish bagel)
  • Cheese
  • Olives
  • Tomato, cucumber
  • Butter
  • Jam
  • Marmelade
  • Honey and clotted cream
  • Tahini and pekmez (grape molasses)
  • Halva or Halvah

Turkish Tea

As a beverage at breakfast, of course, and always, we prefer Turkish tea. I am sorry, there is no option instead of Turkish tea 😊 just kidding! Also, you may find other herbal teas, coffees, and juices. But Turks usually prefer herbal teas and coffees in the evening or night. And, there is no alcohol in traditional Turkish breakfast.

Menemen (Egg with vegetables)

This is a dish generally made with vegetables and eggs. And, onion is optional. Additionally, there was a funny discussion going around in Turkey which is “menemen with onion or not?” If you ask our opinion, we prefer w/o onion at breakfast and with the onion at dinner. Moreover, menemen is preferred both at breakfast and dinner.

Recipe of menemen (for two)

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 onion (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 4-5 tablespoon olive oil
  • If you prefer, kashar cheese or cheddar
  • Spices (black pepper, powdered red pepper)
  • 4-5 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation

  1. Cut the onion as cubes
  2. Cut the green pepper with small pieces.
  3. Peel off the tomatoes and cut them like small cubes.

Note: You can also use grated tomatoes.

How to make menemen step by step?

  1. Put the olive oil to the pan.
  2. After heating the oil, put the onion to the pan.
  3. After a while (around 30 seconds), add the green peppers to the pan.
  4. Fry the onions and peppers together for a while generally onions become transparent and soft. If you don’t do this step enough time, onions may be uncooked. Onions may become burned quickly so that the oven should be used with medium heat.
  5. Add the tomato. Cook 7-8 minutes till tomatoes well cooked.
  6. At the final step, after cooking tomato, add the egg and spices. Stew 4-5 minutes. For homogenous egg distribution, stir a couple of times.

Different alternatives of menemen

  • You can use grated kashar cheese and add on the “menemen” after it is cooked.
  • You can also use “sucuk” (“soudjouk” or “soujouk”). Cut the “sucuk” small cubical pieces and add sucuk after adding onion and green papers to the pan (after making the onions pink)
  • You can also make “menemen” w/o onion. Follow the same steps and neglect onion.

Egg with sucuk

Sucuk is a Turkish style fermented food (also written as“soudjouk” or “soujouk”). Basically, it is mincemeat made by beef and mixed by different spices. And then, the mixture is put into a cover and fermented. In Turkey, we also consume sausage and salami. However, these are consumed and preferred less than “sucuk”. Kayseri- the city in the middle of Turkey is well known about sucuk. So, sucuk produced in Kayseri has a very delicious and different taste. By the way, Afyon sucuk is also well known.

Recommendation: If you search for a brand in Turkey, we can suggest to you “Sahin sucuk”. The brand is also from Kayseri as expected and it is very delicious.

Recommendation: If you buy sucuk from a market, check the info on the label. We recommend you to buy fermented one rather than heat-processed. They are not delicious like fermented ones.

Recipe for the egg with sucuk (for two)

  • One tablespoon butter
  • 6-7 slices sucuk
  • 2 eggs

How to make the egg with sucuk step by step?

  1. Melt the butter on the pan. (non-stick pan is better)
  2. After melting, put sucuk on the pan.
  3. After frying one side, turn sucuk to the other side with a fork. It will be cooked in 30 seconds.
  4. Crack the eggs into the pan and add salt and stir for a homogeneous distribution.

Egg with pastirma

Pastirma (the preserve of dried meat, “pastrami”) is an onerous food to be made and specific to Turkey.

Pastirma is made by drying and salting meat and then covering with cummin. And, the dominant taste comes from cummin. Cummin means “cemen” in Turkish. Also, it contains spices and garlic. So, its taste is very aromatic. Due to being onerous, it is pretty expensive. Turkish people put “pastirma” into a lot of products such as egg, haricot bean, borek, etc.

Moreover, it is not surprising that Kayseri is a well-known city about pastirma. So, pastirma produced in Kayseri is very delicious.

Recommendation: You can also prefer the Sahin brand for pastirma.

Recommendation: You can also find pastirma at Namli Restaurant in Karakoy close to the Galata Tower. And, this place is also a tourist attraction. Or, you can directly order and eat there.

Recipe for the egg with pastirma (for two)

  • One tablespoon butter
  • 4-5 slices pastirma
  • 2 eggs

How to make the egg with pastirma?

  1. Melt the butter on a fireproof pan on a medium heat oven.
  2. After heating the butter, put the pastırma slices.
  3. After frying one side, turn the other side with a fork. It will be cooked in 30 seconds.
  4. Crack the eggs into the pan and add salt.

Egg with yogurt

This is a good dish for breakfast. And, this is also preferred at lunch or dinner.

Recipe for the egg with yogurt (for two)

  • A saucepan
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 bowl yogurt
  • Garlic

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon powdered red pepper

How to make the egg with yogurt step by step?

  1. Put water to the half of saucepan.
  2. Add the two spoon vinegar.
  3. After boiling the water, crack the eggs directly into the water in the saucepan. Please note that you should crack the eggs with a small distance to the water. After cracking one egg, wait 5 seconds in order not to mix the eggs to each other.
  4. Cook them 3 minutes in the boiling water. You may use a spoon to control and separate eggs from each other.
  5. Take the eggs with a sieve to the plate.
  6. Put the yogurt on the eggs.

For the sauce:

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan.
  2. After bubble up, add 1 teaspoon red pepper and close the oven. Because red pepper may burn in a couple of seconds.

Borek

Borek or beurek is a kind of pastry having various ingredients into phyllo dough. Most popular borek types:

  • Su borek (Direct translation “water borek”) (Borek with cheese filling )
  • Sigara borek (Direct translation “cigarette borek”) (Deep fried rolls with cheese filling)
  • Pachanga borek (Deep fried phyllo pastry with pastrami, cheese (optional) and tomato (optional) filling)
  • Gul borek (Direct translation “rose borek”) (it can be with mincemeat or spinach)
  • Ciborek or cig borek (with cheese or mincemeat, deep-fried semicircular börek)
  • Laz borek (includes milk pudding)
  • Moreover, there are various borek types with potato, minced meat, a mix of vegetables, chicken, and sucuk.

Recommendation: I really like su boregi (borek with cheese filling). You can find this type in most of the districts and Mado Cafe&Restaurant in the malls in Istanbul.

Recommendation: Moreover, we definitely suggest you check “Cengelkoy Borekcisi” nearby “Tarihi Cinaralti Cay Bahcesi” in Cengelkoy/Uskudar district if you are around. You can buy borek from “Cengelkoy Borekcisi” and enjoy the Bosphorus with fresh Turkish tea at Tarihi Cinaralti Tea Garden Cafe.

Borek for Turkish breakfast
Cengelkoy Borekcisi

Recommendation: You can also try “Levent Borek” in Karakoy just opposite of Namli Gurme.

Gozleme (Turkish pancake)

Gozleme is a pastry that contains cheese, spinach, minced meat or potato in phyllo dough depends on your choice. And, it is consumed at breakfast, lunch or dinner by Turkish people. Additionally, you can find gozleme in many restaurants & cafes.

Recommendation: We can suggest you eat gozleme in the “Anadolu Lezzetleri” restaurant which is on Istiklal street Taksim/Istanbul except Butme Evi in Kadikoy.

Simit (Turkish bagel)

Simit is a pastry covered by sesame. Rather than buying from spots on the streets, I mainly prefer to buy hot simit from a good bakery. Cold Turkish bagels are not delicious and hard to eat. And, Turkish people really like simit at the breakfasts.

Especially, simit, cheese, olive and tea combination is one of the most consumed practical breakfast styles in Turkey.

Cheese

We recommend you to try cheeses below specific to Turkey.

  • Ezine cheese
  • Tulum cheese
  • Cecil cheese
  • Manyas cheese
  • Kars Gruyere cheese
  • Van Herbed cheese
  • Mihalic cheese

Olives

Turkey is the fourth country on olive production after Spain, Italy, and Greece. Especially, Ayvalik, Edremit, and Altinoluk are well- known locations about olive production.

Olives for Turkish breakfast
Olives @Namli Gurme

Butter

The butter from the Black Sea region in Turkey is very delicious because of its geography and climate.

Honey and clotted cream

Clotted cream (“kaymak” in Turkish) is very popular in Turkey and Afyon clotted cream is definitely the best.

Turkey is also very good at honey production. Egricayir Honey (a type of Turkish honey) has been selected as the “best honey in the world” by the 46th World Apiculture Congress held between 8-12 September 2019 in Canada, Montreal. This organic flower honey with polyfluoro produced in Mersin Taurus Mountains has been awarded in the flower honey with the polyfluoro category.

Note: If you are planning to buy honey in Turkey, try to buy organic certified Turkish brands.

Please note that clotted cream is also used for Turkish delight. You can find more info in our Turkish delight post.

Jams

We can’t think about a Turkish breakfast without jams (“recel” in Turkish) made by moms or grandmas. Buying jams from the markets is always the last option 🙂 Best fruits are selected in its best season and jam is made for winter.

Most favorite jams are strawberry, cherry, peach, quince, and fig. However, jams can be made by almost every vegetable and fruit. Especially, you should definitely try fig, milk and orange peel jams.

Fig jam for Turkish breakfast
Fig jam

Marmalade

Homemade marmalade is mainly preferred right after jams.

Molasses with tahini

Tahini and pekmez combination is one of the best sweets consumed at breakfast. You know tahini is made by sesame. First, the shell of sesame is taken out and it is roasted right after. And then, it is ground and sesame’s oil is obtained. Moreover, tahini is consumed a lot in the Middle East and Arabic countries. In Turkey, we mainly mix the tahini with pekmez (grape concentrated melasses).

Halva or halvah

It is called “Helva” in Turkish. Halva or Halvah is a kind of dessert. And, it is very popular in Turkey and Middle East countries.

Halvah was also made and consumed in the Ottoman Empire’s palace kitchen. Turks met with halvah after accepting Islam and getting closer to Arabian culture.

It is not very common to consume halvah at Turkish breakfast. But, you may see in the menus.

Bonus: Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is generally served right after breakfast. We can say it is a tradition. Moreover, kahvalti in Turkish means “Before-coffee”. So, it is basically a meal before drinking Turkish coffee. You can simply understand how much Turkish coffee is important for Turkish people.

Turkish village breakfast

This is also a trendy breakfast type in Turkey. Village breakfast means products are organic or natural. And, it is usually simple and delicious like in the villages. Also, products are usually homemade. It is hard to find a village breakfast in metropolitan cities. But, you know Istanbul is a city you can find everything even it is hard 🙂 There are a couple of places that we can recommend.

If you want to have breakfast in the forestland having a lot of animals, village houses, we would recommend you to check Polonezkoy. Moreover, you can have a great day in this natural environment. Also, you can also spend a night in a boutique hotel in this district.

Another option is Agva. In this district, you can also spend a night in a boutique hotel and enjoy the sea and nature.

Except for these locations, there are also some spots serving village breakfast in the city center.

Turkish breakfast and health

It is bad that obesity in Turkey also increases day by day. However, this is not as much as compared to European countries and the US. One reason is definite that Turkish people give enough importance to breakfast. Having a real and healthy breakfast makes people get less hungry, eat less on the other meals. So, metabolism becomes faster.

Obesity is a big problem in the world and skipping breakfast or having a wrong breakfast is one of the reasons. Here are some matters that people should be careful about breakfast.

  • Metabolism gets slower if breakfast is skipped and being hungry for a long time.
  • Junk foods such as biscuits, crackers shouldn’t be consumed instead of a healthy breakfast.
  • At breakfast, fried foods and meat products shouldn’t be consumed a lot. You should prefer to eat eggs, olive, cheese, and nuts instead of this.
  • You should prefer to eat wholewheat or bran bread. It is also important to eat different bread types in different periods.
  • You may have ingestion problems if you eat too much pastry. It is important to have variety at the breakfasts.
  • Eating eggs every single day may increase cholesterol.
  • Calcium in cheese products is important for bone and teeth health.
  • Eating pastry everyday cause cholesterol and diabetes.

Turkish breakfast for vegans

  • Tomato- cucumber
  • Olives
  • Tahini and pekmez
  • Jams
  • Marmalade

Turkish breakfast for ovo-vegetarians

  • Menemen
  • Tomato- cucumber
  • Olives
  • Tahini and pekmez
  • Jams
  • Marmalade

Turkish breakfast for Lacto-ovo vegetarians

  • Simit
  • Gozleme
  • Borek
  • Honey and clotted cream
  • Halvah
  • Tahini and pekmez
  • Menemen
  • Egg with yogurt
  • Tomato- cucumber
  • Olives
  • Jams
  • Marmalade
  • Butter

How to eat or order a Turkish breakfast?

Turkish breakfast plate

If you are single, it makes more sense to order a Turkish breakfast plate. Yes, this can be more practical.

Turkish breakfast plate
Typical Turkish breakfast plate

Open buffet

You will be seeing this type mainly in the hotels. However, if you are outside of a hotel, we don’t recommend you prefer buffet type because of lower quality.

Mixed Turkish breakfast
Open buffet Turkish breakfast

Mixed (or spread) breakfast- (Serpme kahvalti in Turkish)

This is a type of breakfast that all products are directly served to the table. Generally, Turkish tea without any limit is also served. This is the most dominant type in cafes & restaurants. Locals prefer that as well. Basically, it is good if you are 2 or more.

We tasted different mixed Turkish breakfast at different places that you will see the photos below.

Where to have a Turkish breakfast in Istanbul?

We know that there are many great breakfast spots in Istanbul, but here is the list of our favorite locations.

Namli Gurme – Karakoy

I think it is the best in Istanbul. Because you can make your own breakfast menu here. Yes, you can select whatever you want. So, it means there is not a standard menu. We made a list and ate eggs with sucuk, olives, cheeses, tomatoes, simit, fig jam, honey, and clotted cream. I really like their fig jams and honey & clotted cream. It was very delicious!

And, we have a best practice. You can come and have a good breakfast here, and then visit the Galata Tower.

Namli Gurme
Turkish Breakfast @Namli Gurme

Butme Evi- Kadikoy

Unfortunately, one of our favorite spots has been converted (Zoo Cafe to Too Burger). It is time to replace this one with the one we like so much. Butme Evi is a Turkish pancake house and serving great taste in Kadikoy.

It is small and well-decorated. No noise & crowdedness except Kadikoy streets which is difficult to find in Istanbul 🙂 if you are looking somewhere peaceful, it is good!

Butme Evi- Kadikoy
Butme Evi Kadikoy

Naga Putrika- Kadikoy, Moda

They have different types of breakfast menus. Don’t panic, all of them are delicious and traditional. You can also try here “muhlama” which is specific to the black sea region of Turkey.

The cafe has a small sweet garden. And, the inside of the cafe is small. You should be an early bird because it is difficult to find a free table at the weekends.

Midpoint- Bagdat (Baghdad) Street

I recommend “mom breakfast” which is called in Turkish “Anne kahvaltisi”. It is enough for 2-3 people. You have many different breakfast options here and you may see even British breakfast on the menu. Moreover, there are gozleme, omelets, menemen, toasts, sandwiches and more.

Turkish Breakfast @ Midpoint Bagdat Street
Midpoint- Mom breakfast

Big Chefs- Anadolu Hisari

Big Chefs is on the shore of the river and has a good view including Anatolian and Rumeli fortresses.

Anadolu Hisari Big Chefs

Kale Cafe & Restaurant- Rumeli Hisari

Breakfast is average. Regardless of its modest breakfast menu, the view is fantastic that you can see the Bosphorus and bridge and enjoy a walk on the shore right after breakfast. Don’t miss checking Rumeli Fortress which is pretty close.

Kale Cafe- Turkish breakfast

Sabbah- Atasehir

Atasehir district is one of the luxurious districts in Istanbul and there is no tourist attraction around Atasehir. However, if you are around and looking for a breakfast restaurant, you can prefer Sabbah.

Sabbah’s menu is pretty extensive. And, the products are too fresh. Moreover, you can make your own menu here like Namli. This is not so cheap compared to the other spots on our list.

Turkish breakfast @ Sabbah
Sabbah Atasehir

Mesopotamian Terrace Restaurant- Fatih

Mesopotamian Terrace Restaurant is another good place to enjoy specific Turkish breakfast, but enjoying the Bosphorus and Hagia Sophia views are just amazing.

You know what to do after this breakfast. You can visit Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and Basilica Cistern.

Bonus: Brekkie Croissant and Cookie Kadikoy, Moda

If you come to Turkey and already have a traditional Turkish breakfast anywhere else, I want to recommend you an alternative breakfast place. Brekkie serves great croissants with different fillings such as cheese, jambon, fumed meat, tomato, dried tomato, egg, tuna fish and more.

Brekkie Croissant

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Turkish breakfast vs. others

We don’t like to exaggerate but we believe that Turkish breakfast is the best in the world.

Do Turkish people eat pide (Turkish pizza) at breakfasts?

No, we don’t eat pide at breakfast.

Do Turkish people eat kebab at breakfast?

If we talk about Istanbul, no we don’t eat. However, there are many regions that people love eating a kebab at breakfast.

What time can I have a Turkish breakfast?

The restaurants or cafes usually serve breakfast between 8 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Is Turkish breakfast healthy?

Yes, really healthy! We are talking about cheese, olives, fresh tomato and cucumber, eggs, homemade jams.

What is breakfast called in Turkish?

We call it “Kahvalti”.

Where to buy Turkish breakfast sets and items?

There are many good products and brands in Turkey. You can buy from:

Conclusion

Life becomes faster and faster day by day and we only have a long breakfast at the weekends due to having busy jobs like everyone. In these days, people start the weekdays with a Turkish bagel and Turkish tea.

Going back to “old memories”, I don’t remember a single day that I went to high school w/o having breakfast. Good old days… Homemade jams by mom, menemen, clotted creams and natural honey… But now, we don’t pass a weekend without enjoying a Turkish breakfast with my family like many Turkish families.

In summary, we also think like famous Turkish poet Cemal Sureyya “I don’t know what you think about eating, but there is a relationship with breakfast and happiness!”. We are lucky that this city and country have an extensive breakfast culture.

Having a Turkish breakfast is a “must-do” activity in Turkey and don’t skip it. Additionally, we have shared many recipes in the post that you can also prepare on your own.

Enjoy your breakfast even it is Turkish or not. Bon appetite!!

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