I had a misconception that finding vegetarian food in Turkey is going to be extremely difficult. After all the first image that pops up in mind when you start imagining food in Turkey, would be either Kebab or chicken or seafood. I was mentally prepared to eat less and in kind of “hope-to-survive” mood. I knew my Vietnam experience is going to be handy where it was extremely tough to find vegetarian food.
Surprise !! Surprise !!. Vegetarian food can be found in most of the places with ease in Turkey and you are not going to starve if you are a vegetarian. Though predominantly Turkish cuisine contains non – veg food but there are always options for people who are looking for vegetarian food.
Presenting to you some of the food options I came across while I was in Turkey.
1. Kuru Fasulye : On my first day when I came out of my hotel in search of dinner hoping to find Thai/Italian restaurant where probability of getting vegetarian food was more, I found a roadside cafe with this vegetarian turkish dish. These are beans served with rice and reminds of Indian dish “Rajma Chawal”. They served it along with bread and salad, thus making it nice dinner option for me.
Make sure even after you say you are vegetarian, mention again that you do not eat meat at all with the phrase in Turkish “Ben hiç et yememek” meaning the same.
2. Pizza : On my second evening in Izmir, roaming near seaside I saw a cafe just on sea-shore but unfortunately they were not serving any vegetarian turkish dishes. That’s where pizza came for rescue and they had 2-3 vegetarian pizzas in menu. And for the first time in life just for the experiment I ordered Turkish tea with pizza. To my surprise combination wasn’t that bad. Of Course you can note that traditional Turkish tea is not made with milk :). Now the combination doesn’t sound that weird right :).
3. Kofta: Surprises weren’t over yet and I found veg kofta in an open air cafe in Istanbul. I just loved the whole setup with the open air arrangement on street and music playing in cafe. One good thing about cafe in Turkey is most of the times bread is served complimentary with curries so you just need to order curry which are not too expensive. It costed 10 TL for all the food items in picture :).
4. Turkish Breakfast : Now here comes the chance to attack on the best vegetarian meal option in Turkey. Turkish breakfast is mostly vegetarian and I used to eat maximum in the morning :). Served with bread, fruits, many types of jams, butter, corn flakes, tea and fruit juices heavy breakfast was every day routine for me. Some of the jams like Rose Jam were completely new for me and very tasty.
5. Avanos : Found this dish in one of the restaurants in Cappadocia which was stuffed like something in between pizza and Indian dish aloo paratha. It was very tasty and at a cheap price fo 5 TL . What more I could ask for ?
6. Gozleme : This is something like India Aloo Paratha where potatoes are stuffed inside. It is available at many places and an affordable food option.
7. Corns : The corn selling stalls reminded me of India. They are available everywhere and a good option for a quick bite.
In addition to above there are more options like Turkish Delight and dry fruits to satisfy your taste buds. Moral of the story – You don’t need to look for surviving but have the option of choosing among Vegetarian options in Turkey. Moreover if you check with locals, they may let you know more such dishes. Just make sure you mention no fish/ no meat and if required repeat in Turkish. It’s all about “Being Vegetarian” :).