Imagine what it would be like to enjoy Sunday brunch seven days a week. Well, that is precisely what happens with a traditional Turkish breakfast.
Breakfast was never my thing growing up. I have never been a morning person and learned at an early age that I could sneak in an additional hour of sleep if I skipped breakfast.
Yet, as an adult, I began to appreciate the magnificence of brunch. A blend of breakfast and lunch, brunch offers the best of both worlds. My favorite menu items include Eggs Benedict, poached salmon, strawberry cheesecake flapjacks, and hashbrown potatoes.
Additionally, being from the south, I love biscuits and gravy loaded with bacon drippings. And there is nothing quite like topping everything off with a hearty portion of Brennan’s Banana Foster, an authentic New Orleans classic.
However, check this out. Even the best of Sunday brunches has nothing on a Turkish breakfast.
Yes, you heard that right.
Turkish people love food and consider breakfast to be the most important meal of the day. For that reason, a classic Turkish breakfast, better known as “kahvalti,” is truly a sight to behold.
For example, a traditional Turkish breakfast includes a variety of bite-sized delicacies. Accordingly, a classic Turkish breakfast is generally comprised of black and green olives, cucumbers, cured meats, dips and sauces, eggs, fresh cheeses, fresh tomatoes, fresh-baked bread, fruit preserves and jams, honey, pastries, and sweet butter.
Additionally, along with those tasty treats, no Turkish breakfast is complete with plenty of freshly brewed black tea.
And, although there are some regional differences regarding the menu, all the Turkish regions have five elements in common: bread, spreads, cheese, eggs, and black tea.
The real start of any Turkish breakfast is simit, a kind of Turkish bagel. However, you do not boil these sesame-seed coated bread rings before baking. For that reason, they have a softer texture than typical American bagels.
Typically, you tear your simit into smaller pieces before topping it with jam, olive spread, cheese, or cured meat. The sky is the limit with a Turkish breakfast. Live a little. Get creative.
A classic Turkish breakfast always features a selection of fruit preserves, jams, and spreads. For example, apricot, cherry, and apricot jams are traditional options at any Turkish breakfast.
Likewise, black olive spread, molasses, and tahini are popular spreads. Also, the Turkish people love hazelnut spreads, and Nutella is included in many a Turkish breakfast these days.
A generous selection of cheese is mandatory at any Turkish breakfast. Typical favorites include the ever-popular Feta cheese, a crumbly, brined curd white cheese made from goat’s milk, sheep’s milk, or a mixture of both.
Also, Kasseri, a hard cheese made from sheep milk is common as is Lor, Turkey’s version of cottage cheese made from uncured goat’s milk. Likewise, Turkey produces more than 10 different varieties of Tulum, a crumbly semi-hard cheese with a buttery pungent flavor.
Lastly, a standard Turkish breakfast staple in the Black Sea region is a blend of melted cheese and cornmeal called mıhlama.
No Turkish breakfast is complete without eggs. Sucuklu yumurta, or eggs with sausage is a Turkish breakfast favorite. However, if you’re a vegetarian menemen, or scrambled eggs with veggies and oregano, will be your preferred alternative.
Unlike American brunch, Turkish breakfast does not include coffee or any alcoholic beverages. Instead, black tea is served at traditional Turkish breakfasts. Feel free to substitute your favorite tea blend.
However, if you want authentic, bear in mind the fact that most people in Turkey only partake of herbal and green tea at bedtime.
Turkish Breakfast Recipes
We selected four Turkish recipes to get you started with making your classic Turkish breakfast.
1. Simit Turkish Bagels
The first of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of Munaty Cooking. Simits are delicious, easy to make, and only require about 10 minutes of prep time.
What you need
- 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoon yeast
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 2 tablespoon molasses
- 3 tablespoon water
- 3/4 cup sesame seeds
How you make it
Firstly, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a rack in the middle of the oven. Then combine the sugar and yeast with warm water and set aside for three minutes.
Secondly, mix the flour, salt, and vegetable oil in a medium-sized bowl. (I prefer using Pyrex mixing bowls, as they are non-porous and don’t absorb stains or odors.)
Next, add the water and yeast mixture and knead for at least seven minutes. Then, cover it with a clean, dry towel and leave it in a warm place until it doubles in size. That will take about an hour to an hour and a half.
Meanwhile, mix the molasses, water, and sesame seeds and set aside.
Thirdly, divide the dough into four equal-sized balls. Next, using a floured working surface form each ball into a rope. Then, fold the rope and twist both halves of the rope. Finally, join the ends to make a circle, cover and let sit for 30 minutes.
Lastly, dip each side of the simit in the molasses and sesame seed mixture. Then bake the simit for 15 minutes until golden brown.
2. Spicy Turkish Tapenade
The second of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of Panning the Globe. This tasty tapenade is easy to make and packs a lot of punch.
What you need
- 3/4 cup shelled walnuts or walnut halves
- 1 1/2 cups pitted black olives
- 2 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Ground coriander, 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/4 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
How you make it
Firstly, chop the walnuts by giving them a few pulses in a food processor. (I love my seven-cup Cuisinart, but whatever you have is great.) Then, pour them into a medium-sized bowl and set them aside.
Secondly, add the olives, garlic, and spices to the food processor and pulse a few times until the olives and garlic are finely chopped. Next, add the oil and lemon juice and pulse a couple of times to combine.
Thirdly, transfer the mixture to the bowl containing the walnuts. Next, add the parsley and mix until combined. Season to taste with the salt and fresh ground black pepper.
3. Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal (Mıhlama)
The next of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of The Spruce Eats. Authentic mıhlama calls for the use of a sahan, a copper pan with two handles that is similar to a paella pan. However, you can use a non-stick frying pan if you prefer.
What you need
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 6 tablespoons cornmeal
- 1 cup water
- 10 ounces Feta cheese, grated (or similar goat or sheep milk cheese)
How you make it
Firstly, melt the butter completely in a sahan or frying pan. Then add the cornmeal and stir using a large wooden spoon until it changes color to a deep golden brown.
Secondly, add the water once the butter begins to separate and bring it to a boil. Next, add the grated or crumbled cheese. Then, stir until the cheese is melted and the mixture becomes smooth.
Thirdly, continue cooking over low heat, occasionally stirring until you see the butter appear on the top. Serve hot.
Feel free to substitute any goat or sheep milk cheese or a combination of the two for the Feta cheese.
4. Turkish Menemem
The last of our Turkish recipes comes to us courtesy of BBC Food. This classic Turkish recipe is delicious and simple to make.
What you need
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium-sized onions, sliced
- 1 red or green bell pepper, deseeded and sliced
- 1 to 2 red chili peppers, deseeded and diced
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes (about 400 grams)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 4 eggs
- small bunch parsley, roughly chopped
- 6 tablespoons creamy yogurt (plain)
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
How you make it
Firstly, heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or a non-stick frying pan. Next, stir in the onions, and peppers and cook until they begin to soften. Then add the tomatoes and sugar and mix well.
Secondly, cook until the liquid has reduced and season to taste with salt and pepper. Next, created four pockets in the tomato and veggie mixture and crack an egg into each one. Then cover the pan and cook the eggs over low heat until set.
Thirdly, beat the yogurt with the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the menemem with the parsley and serve hot with a dollop of the garlic-flavored yogurt.
What We Learned Today
We hope you enjoyed our article discussing the glory of partaking of a traditional Turkish breakfast.
Sure our Sunday brunch is a spectacular feast. However, nothing compares to a traditional Turkish breakfast. And we suspect that once you try some Turkish breakfast recipes, you will want to make them a weekly part of your menu planning.
Now, we would love to hear from you. Using the comments section below, tell us your favorite Turkish breakfast idea.
And, as always, until we meet again, bon appetit.