Türkiye: A haven for Indian vegetarians

Delectable diversity of vegetarian dishes
/ Mumbai
Türkiye: A haven for Indian vegetarians

Turkish cuisine boasts a heritage dating back thousands of years (Photo: goturkiye.com)

Though for most travellers, Middle East is synonymous with meat-based cuisines, Türkiye has a rich collection of dishes to cater to the Indian vegetarians.
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Türkiye, a bridge between Europe and Asia, is well-known for its diverse culture, rich history and stunning landscapes. Its culinary specialities are also attracting increasing interest in India, but what has largely gone unnoticed is that the country is also a culinary treasure trove for Indian vegetarians.

Being a large agricultural producer and with the Turkish cuisine historically using a fusion of flavours and vibrant spices, makes Türkiye an exceptional destination for Indian travellers with dietary preferences.

Turkish cuisine boasts a heritage dating back thousands of years, influenced by the civilisations that once thrived within its borders. Due to this amalgamation of cultures, the culinary landscape of Türkiye offers a diverse range of vegetarian dishes.

Indians will find familiar ingredients like eggplants, lentils, chickpeas, and various vegetables at the heart of many Turkish recipes, making it a comforting experience for their taste buds.

One of the standout features of Turkish cuisine is its focus on fresh, locally-sourced produce. Turkish markets are filled with an array of colourful vegetables and fruits, catering to every vegetarian’s needs. From street vendors to high-end restaurants, vegetarians will always find an impressive variety of dishes.

One of the standout features of Turkish cuisine is its focus on fresh, locally-sourced produce (Photo: goturkiye.com)

Breakfast spreads

Turkish breakfast, known as kahvaltı, is a feast that offers a myriad of vegetarian options. The spread often includes an assortment of cheeses, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, jams, honey and freshly baked bread.

Cheese lovers will be delighted to know that Türkiye is home to numerous delectable cheese varieties. The famous Beyaz Peynir, a white cheese, and Tulum Peyniri, a goat cheese, can be savoured with traditional Turkish breakfast or used as ingredients in various dishes, adding a burst of flavour to the cuisine.


Börek, a savoury pastry filled with various ingredients such as spinach, cheese, or potatoes, is a beloved Turkish snack that appeals to vegetarians. Its flaky and buttery texture adds to the overall delight of this delectable dish.


Turkish cuisine also excels in preparing flavourful stuffed vegetables (Photo: goturkiye.com)

Mezze, a traditional way of dining in Türkiye, is perfect for vegetarians. These small, shareable plates consist of various vegetable-based appetisers and dips. Some popular vegetarian mezze dishes include:

a) Hummus: A creamy blend of chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic, served with warm pita bread.

b) Babaganoush: Roasted eggplant puree mixed with tahini, olive oil, and spices, offering a burst of smoky flavor.

c) Dolma: Vine leaves or vegetables like bell peppers or zucchini, stuffed with seasoned rice and herbs.

d) Cacik: A refreshing cucumber and oğurt dip with mint and garlic.

Hearty soups:

Turkish soups are also delightful treats for vegetarians, especially during colder months. Mercimek Çorbası, a lentil soup, is a popular choice among locals and visitors alike. Packed with flavours from red lentils, onions, carrots, and spices, it is often served with a squeeze of lemon on top.

Gözleme and Pide:

Gözleme and Pide are two Turkish dishes that can be easily customised to suit vegetarian preferences. Gözleme is a thin, savory pastry filled with various combinations of ingredients like spinach, cheese, potatoes, and herbs. Pide, often referred to as Turkish pizza, offers a wide range of vegetarian toppings, from olives and tomatoes to different cheeses.

Fresh salads:

With abundant, locally-produced crops, Turkish salads are a burst of freshness and flavour. These include the classic Coban Salatasi or Shepherd’s Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, and parsley as well Patates Salatasi or Potato Salad with a zesty lemon dressing, vegetarians will find an assortment of salads that complement their main dishes perfectly.

Stuffed vegetables:

Turkish cuisine also excels in preparing flavourful stuffed vegetables, and Indian vegetarians will appreciate the diverse fillings and spices used. One must try Dolma, which involves stuffing vegetables like bell peppers, tomatoes, and zucchinis with a delectable mixture of rice, onions, pine nuts and spices.

Turkish desserts are a heavenly indulgence (Photo: goturkiye.com)

Vegetable vasseroles:

Vegetable casseroles, known as Güveç, are oven-baked delights that combine vegetables with herbs, spices, and sometimes cheese. The result is a comforting, flavorsome dish that brings together the essence of Turkish cuisine. Popular variations include Patlıcanlı Güveç or eggplant casserole and Sebzeli Güveç or mixed vegetable casserole.

Sweet temptations:

Turkish desserts are a heavenly indulgence for those with a sweet tooth. While many of them feature dairy or honey, some traditional desserts cater to vegetarians. A must-try includes Aşure, a festive dessert made with grains, dried fruits, and nuts, often served during special occasions.

(Cüneyt Yavuzcan is the Turkish Consul General in Mumbai)

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