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Turkish Breakfast – More Like Break-Feast.

Turkish breakfast, breakfast in turkey

Turkish breakfast is no ordinary meal by any definition. Turks really do eat like kings in the morning, as the popular quote recommends. Though we have the tendency to continue that through lunch and dinner, too.

Turkish breakfast is served buffet style, with a variety of fresh vegetables in olive oil, meats, eggs, country churned butter, Turkish cheeses, olives, jam selection, honey, simit (traditional Turkish bagel) and of course, Turkish bread. This breakfast is more like break-feast.

For drinks Turkish tea will be served along with fruit juices. A serving of Turkish coffee usually doesn’t go a miss after the kahvaltı (that’s breakfast in Turkish, literally meaning pre-coffee or before/under coffee) is finished. Most popular fruit juices in Turkey are cherry, apricot and peach juices, silky and nectary, a world away from the citric orange juice.

Turkish bread – Ekmek

turkish bread, ekmek,

Fresh Turkish bread out of the oven at a Turkish bakery.

Bread makes an appearance on the dinner table every meal of the day without a miss. There are bakeries on almost every street corner in major cities, baking fresh bread and pastry twice daily. Sourdough is mostly the standard but wholewheat and seeded varieties are also widely available. Simit also doesn’t go a miss in Turkish breakfast tables. Fresh out of the oven, this sesame covered, pekmez dipped bagel is out of this world. Stuff it with cheese, tomato and sucuk or just dip into Tahini or jams with plenty of butter.

Olives. So many olives

Turkish olives

Turkish olives in on display. Image Credit; Harold Litwiler via Flickr

No Turkish breakfast is complete without olives. Any given breakfast table through-out Anatolia has at the very least one type of olive.

Most popular varieties are dry cured olives, a somewhat salty and firm black olives. Karamürsel Su (Also widely known as Kalamata), Cracked green olives, a slightly vinegary yet meaty type of olives and a massive range of other stuffed green olives makes an appearance.

Cheese(peynir) from Ezine Region to the city of Erzincan.

Descending from nomadic tribes of the steppe, Turks know a thing or two about dairy products, especially peynir. Combined with the surrounding cultures of Anatolia, Turkey has a diverse cheese culture.

turkish white cheese

Beyaz Peynir. Full fat sheep’s milk or cow’s milk white cheese from Ezine Region. Image credit Yemek.com

Most consumed being white cheese – Beyaz Peynir (traditionally from sheep’s milk, however cow milk is now probably more widely available), similar to Feta cheese of Greece (I wonder where they got the idea from). This full fat cheese is exceptional and should be stored in airtight conditions, ideally in brine.

turkish cheddar cheese, kasar cheese, kashkaval cheese, kasseri cheese

Kaşar/Kashkaval/Kasseri cheese. A rich cheddar like, matured cheese.

Kashkaval/Kaşar/Kasseri, cheddar as we know it, served varying in maturity is a rich, delicious cheese some Turks like to have on bread with honey and butter.

tulum, tulum peynir, tulum cheese, turkish goat cheese

Tulum cheese from Erzincan region.

Tulum peyniria sharp, pungent cheese variety from eastern city of Erzincan may also make an appearance on occasion. However, this goat skin ripened cheese is more often found on the Raki table than breakfast.

Turkish sausages. Sucuk, also known as Sujuk – Soujouk.

It’s now almost impossible to say Sucuk is strictly “Turkish” as almost every culture from the Balkans to the Caucasus has their own take on it. Yes, it derives from Turkey and spread out from Anatolia, but so many cultures has made it their own. Just take a look at how many name variations of sucuk there are.

Along with Beyaz Peynir, sucuk is the highlight of breakfast for me. Tearing off some bread and dipping into the buttery mix of sucuk fats in the pan is just such a Turkish experience. I’m sure of it, no matter what class you belong to, you dip your bread in sucuk!

Sucuk sausage is traditionally air cured and stuffed with ground beef. Often spiced with fenugreek, cumin, sumac and garlic. There are spicier versions with red/cayenne pepper. Sliced into thin pieces (about half a centimeter thick), sucuk is pan fried with little need for oils as it is high in fat. I prefer to add a little knob of butter to make the most of dipping juices.


Sucuklu yumurta is sucuk with fried eggs on top and adds a whole new level of dipping. There are probably about a hundred ways and we might have to dedicate a post to it. But the basic way of cooking it is simple. Cut sucuk into half centimeter medallions, slow fry in a pan on medium heat for about 5 minutes until it’s own juices are bubbling, add a knob of butter (or don’t, it’s optional but phenomenal), crack two eggs on top and turn the heat up until done to your preference. Remember though, the pan retains heat so move off heat when it’s nearly done, not done. I also like to kind of pick and prod the egg, separating and mixing the yolk into the whites and the sucuk. It just marries the flavours for me. Also, if the spices and herbs in the sucuk aren’t enough for you then throw a dash of oregano and aleppo flakes on top.

Honey, Jam & Preserves

Almost every Turkish breakfast set up has at least 2 different types of jam or fruit preserve available. Either store bought or homemade jams go hand in hand with crusty bread and butter. Endless variety of jams from rose jam to fig, quince, blackberry, tomato, strawberry, peach, orange peel preserve and more.

Honey is another must have and Turks are usually picky about their honey as there had been some controversy around adultered honey. Honey in comb is especially sought after, even more so if Karakovan variety.

Fresh Veg & Greens

A photo posted by Lezzet Peşinde (@lezzetpesind) on

Cruncy cucumbers, juicy vine tomatoes, parsley, mint, wild rocket, lettuce, spring onion, sweet green peppers.

Just goes so well in between bites of cheese or sucuk. Freshens up the palate with a lighter earthy touch. Tomatoes and cucumbers with onions in some vinegar, olive oul and a sprinkling of sumac and oregano is great to dip into and get your five a day at the same time. Highly recommended.

Turkish tea

Turks consume the most tea per capita in the world. Black Sea coast region of of Rize is famous for its tea as the humid climate coupled with high ground makes for ideal conditions for tea plants. Brewed in two pot kettles, called çaydanlık, the smaller top pot holds the loose leaf tea and the larger bottom pot boiling water. The tea is steeped and boiled slowly, so as to bring about the flavours together gradually, rather than roasting the leafs which often makes the tea bitter. Small cups are used to serve the tea, diluting the tea about 1/3 part tea from the top pot and 2/3 hot water from the large pot. Every breakfast table in Turkey has a çaydanlık on it with freshly brewed tea, as it is almost blasphemous to recycle the once used tea leafs. Tea is not served with milk in Turkey, however Turkish tea does lend itself well to adding some milk if you must.

Turkish Coffee

Turkish word for breakfast is kahvaltı, which literally translates to “before coffee”, or “under coffee” as drinking coffee on an empty stomach is usually not the best idea. Much like espresso, Turkish coffee is strong and aromatic. Spiced and flavoured Turkish coffee is also popular, such as cinnamon and mastic gum. Turkish coffee is brewed in small copper coffee pots, cezve, and served in small cups, fincan, with the ground coffee sediment often used to read fortunes. Turkish coffee is usually the social centrepiece and enjoyed slowly.

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