5 Turkish Dishes to Try on Your Next Mediterranean Cruise

An assortment of colorful bowls at a bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.
An assortment of colorful bowls at a bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey.

A Mediterranean vacation offers travelers diverse cultures, rich histories, and mouthwatering cuisine to explore. On a Mediterranean cruise, you can stop at exotic ports such as Athens, Greece, and Istanbul, Turkey — a fascinating city that's known for its historic mosques, its massive bazaar, and, of course, its array of Turkish food. As with much Mediterranean cuisine, the food of Turkey is simple, but it's always made with fresh, traditional ingredients. You won't want to skip a bite when you visit.

The following dishes are iconic in the Turkish culinary scene. Step away from your normal day-to-day fare and get your taste buds ready for an adventure on your next Mediterranean vacation.

Meat Dishes

Lahmacun

You may not think of pizza when you think of Mediterranean cuisine, but the Turkish do it beautifully. While lahmacun is not the traditional type of pizza you'd find in Italy, this round dough covered in ground lamb and spices will leave you just as satisfied. If you are sensitive to spicy food use caution — chili peppers are a popular topping.

Kebabs

There is probably no Turkish dish more famous than the kebab. Chances are you yourself, whether you realized it or not, have incorporated the flavors of Turkey into your backyard barbecue. Chunks of meats and vegetables are skewered and roasted over an open flame, resulting in a juicy, flavorful dish that is hard to beat in its simplicity.

Vegetarian Dishes

Yaprak Sarma

You'll find variations of this vegetarian dish all over the Mediterranean. Yaprak sarma are stuffed vine leaves. Fillings can vary, but typically include rice, onions, and spices.

Çiğ köfte

Çiğ köfte translates as raw meatballs, probably the weirdest name for a vegetarian dish you'll ever come across. While you can indeed get the meat variety, the vegetarian çiğ köfte is commonly found on street corners all over Turkey. Ingredients usually include bulgur wheat, tomato paste, and an assortment of herbs and spices that are mixed together and shaped into a kind of Turkish style meat(less)ball.

Turkish Dessert

Revani

Most visitors to Turkey are quick to hunt down the glorious pastry known as baklava, but there is another dessert you should sample. Revani is a type of sponge cake found in both Turkey and Greece, that's made slightly differently depending on where you go. In Turkey, it is commonly made of semolina flour and yogurt, then soaked in a sugar syrup. Try it with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Turkish cuisine is an experience for the senses, and a necessary accompaniment to your Mediterranean vacation. The fresh herbs and spices you'll taste create dishes that are packed with flavor and will leave you dreaming of Turkey long after you are gone.

Ready to plan your visit to Istanbul? Discover the Mediterranean cruise that's perfect for you.