Turkish cuisine is a wonderful fusion of many different cultural cuisines including elements of; Asian, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and Balkan cuisines. Many traditional Turkish dishes are inspired by Turkey’s rich heritage from when it was part of the Ottoman Empire.
There’s a whole host of different dishes available in Turkey and homemade food is much preferred to fast food. Also because Turkey is largely an Islamic Country pork is not usually seen in contemporary Turkish cuisine.
While there’s a great variety of dishes available in Turkey the vegetarians and vegans may be feeling a little left out. In the culinary world there’s a slight stereotype that all Turkish cuisine is lamb or kebabs. And while lamb and kebabs are popular vegetarians and vegans have no fear, because there’s a great range cuisine that would be ideal for you.
Vegetarian and Vegan Dishes
In Turkish cuisine you can quite often find a vegetable dish as the main course of your meal and there’s a great variety of dishes available. You don’t have to worry about them being dull simple dishes either because the beautiful blend of flavours you’d find in any Turkish meat dish carries over into Turkish cuisines vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Let’s look at some of the more popular vegetarian and vegan dishes you’ll likely find on many Istanbul restaurant menus.
Dolma – Dolma is a group of stuffed vegetables that can be filled with a variety of stuffing’s. Meat stuffed versions of Dolma are also available so non-vegetarians can also give the dish a try. The vegetarian variants of Dolma are stuffed with a mixture of; rice, spices, herbs and onions.
Fried Eggplant – Eggplant is a popular ingredient in a number of vegetarian dishes. Fried eggplant is a common summer dish and can be served with yogurt or tomato sauce and garlic.
Mücver – Mücver is fried fritter that tastes similar to a Pancake. Mücver like Dolma can be made with a variety of ingredients, some examples of Mücver ingredients include; onions, potatoes, eggs, herbs and cheese.
Pilaf – Pilaf is a rice dish cooked in a seasoned broth. There’s a great variety of pilaf dishes available and many vegetarian and vegan variants of it. The rice can be mixed with a number of other ingredients including; chick peas, lentils, herbs, tomatoes and other assorted vegetables and spices.
Vegetable soups – There’s a large variety of vegetable soups made in a variety of different styles with a massive range of different ingredients.
Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants in Istanbul
Being the largest city in Turkey Istanbul is a very popular tourist spot because of this you might find it a little different to smaller cities and towns in Turkey. Because of the income generate by tourists you’ll find a higher percentage of fast food outlets. However Turkey is a country that’s very proud of its cultural heritage and home cooking is much preferred even in popular tourist spots like Istanbul.
So you’ll find a great variety of restaurants that specialise in preparing home cooked Turkish cuisine. Most restaurants have a vegetarian or vegan option but you’ll also find a variety of restaurant’s that specialise solely in vegetarian and vegan cuisine, below are just some examples of the best restaurants for vegetarian and vegan’s to visit.
Zencefil – Zencefil is one of the most established vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Istanbul. The menu also does have some meat and fish dishes so if your friends or family don’t want to try a vegetarian or vegan dish then Zencefil will also have something on the menu for them.
Located in the Taksim district, Zencefil is opened for breakfast and early lunches the menu is also written in both Turkish and English.
You’ll find a great selection of vegetarian dishes available and the deserts including pumpkin pie and wine poached figs are very popular.
Falafel House – Again located in the Taksim district the Falafel House specialises in serving freshly made Middle Eastern healthy cuisine. Since opening in 2006 the Falafel House quickly became a hit with vegetarians and vegans.
You can probably guess what the Falafel House specialises in, and there is great amount of falafel’s available. They can be served with fresh salads, exotic blends of spices and vegetables or have hot and spicy sauces making them the ideal snack food all year round.
Bi' Nevi – Bi' Nevi is located in the Karaköy district of Istanbul and is one of the few restaurants that offer specially created vegan dishes. Vegetarians will be spoilt for choice by the large selection of dishes including; veggie burgers, pastas, dolma dishes, dip plates and vegetarian salads and soups.
Vegans can also select from a range of salad dishes and fruit blends. Bi' Nevi is open from noon till 10 PM so it’s a great place to visit for both your afternoon and evening meal.
For Turkish Residence Permit Health Insurance, see below link
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