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For the unfamiliar, Turkish food often means meat and kebabs, but did you know it’s actually quite easy to find stress free vegan food in Turkey, or even close to home, in a Turkish restaurant.
If you are ready to expand your palette, then here’s five delicious and purely vegan Turkish food to watch out for on your next visit.
1. Menemen (Turkish Omelet)
If you don’t mind eating egg with your vegan diet, the Menemen is a tasty Turkish dish to try out. It’s essentially a Turkish omelet that’s spicy and filled with healthy onions, tomatoes and green peppers. In Turkey, this is considered a breakfast meal and often sold right around bus stations or diners. Like most Turkish dishes, better get plenty of bread to go with this so you can enjoy and soak up the leftover juices as well.
2. Gözleme - (Crepe)
The Gözleme isn’t the most common Turkish food out there, especially if you head out to a restaurant but if they do serve this then go for it. The Gözleme is a flavorless Turkish crepe that comes stuffed with oodles of veggies. There are quite a few varieties; it can be stuffed with spinach (ispnakli) or potatoes (patatesli.) If you are a strict vegan and avoid dairy products, make sure to ask for a gozleme that has no cheese (peynirsiz.)
3. Cig Kofte (Raw Meatballs)
Don’t freak out. I assure you there’s no meat in this next dish. Yes, the name is quite deceptive but until recently, Cig Kofte was made using traditional meat. However, if you visit Turkey, meaty cig kofte are quite uncommon and sometimes even banned. The spicy vegetarian variety, however, is probably the only thing you’ll encounter if you go looking for it in Turkish street corners or restaurants.
The dish is made from bulgur, tomatoes and red pepper paste. If you want to be sure, just ask if it’s the vegan version and if there’s no meat inside.
4. Ev Yemekleri ((Home Cooking)
Now, this one isn’t so much a dish but more of where you’ll find a great possibility of vegan Turkish dishes being served. Even though foreigners sometimes associate Turkish food with meat, in truth, home cooked Turkish meals are actually more vegan friendly than most think. In majority of Ev Yemekleri restaurants, expect a good variety of purely vegan dishes up for grabs.
For Turkish street explorers who want to munch on something as they go, the Cezerye is the perfect vegan treat to have. This strange, brightly colored snack is made from carrots that have been cooked for a long period until all the sweetness from the vegetable has condensed. It is then peppered with hazelnuts or walnuts.
There you have it! Next time you step inside a Turkish restaurant or find yourself on the streets of Turkey, don’t worry, there’s always a vegan meal waiting for you.
If you prefer to let your palette do the exploring, there are plenty of Turkish restaurants in New York. AnTalia Restaurant serves authentic Turkish cuisine perfect for your vegan cravings. Drop by and treat your taste buds to vegan Turkish food bliss.