Turkish Meze

Appetizers have very importance in Turkish culture when it comes to food. The word "MEZE" itself derives from the word "MAZA." There are different traditions to serve and eat Meze in Turkish culture. Meze dishes may vary from origin to origin in turkey. Some of them are outlined in the article below. Don´t miss an opportunity to taste various Meze of Turkey.

Updated Date : 15.01.2022

APPETIZER

When the word Meze is examined etymologically, it is seen that its origins are based on the term 'Maza' used by the Iranians. It is written as "mèze" in Turkish alphabets. Maza means flavor. Appetizers are large and indispensable foods offered in small quantities as servings, with their flavors and appearance on our tables. Like our appetizers, some countries have similar foods. They are called "appetizers" in the US and in the Middle East, "Antipasta" in Italy, "hors d'oeuvre" in France, "Tapas" in Spain, and "Mukabalat" in Magrip countries.

Origin of appetizers:

Although it is unknown who and when the first appetizer was made, the Cretans were the first to find olive oil. Cold appetizers are usually made with olive oil, so the estimate is that Cretans also made the first appetizer. The oldest available data on the olive tree are 39,000-year-old olive leaf fossils unearthed in archaeological studies on the island of Santorini in the Aegean Sea. 

Purpose of appetizers in Turkish culture:

In old times, there were no various mezes brought to your table on a tray like today. Meze served next to the raki were only leblebi (roasted chickpeas), some leaves, carrot slices. Therefore, the perception that "appetizer is for conversations, the purpose of raki table is not to eat to be full." which is said for raki table, may come from this ancient culture. But as you can appreciate, the various appetizers presented before us today have become almost indispensable main dishes of our raki table. 

The appetizers on the table are significant because it allows people to drink raki slowly, but it is essential to recognize that people also enjoy appetizers with raki. So much so that in the appetizer tables, where there is no place for ignorance on manners, when there is noise and fighting, appetizers alone have been the sauce of deep conversations.

An appetizer should not be eaten like other dishes, a tiny bit of it at the end of the fork each time, accompanied by light flavors on the palate. It is not respected as an appetizer can be eaten like any dish on the table. 

We are also in very rich geography in terms of appetizers. Some of the various and the most popular appetizers on the trays presented to us are Haydari, white cheese (feta cheese), melon, shakshuka, hummus, and muhammara.

Turkish Mezes

Haydari

It is one of the indispensable Meze of raki tables. You have to learn how to make it. Because it is both an easy and practical appetizer, and together with raki, they become the perfect duo. We are making with "strained yogurt," mixed with mint. At first, we strain the water out of the yogurt to dry it a little. This brings intense milk taste wonderfully mixed with mint.

Haydari

White Cheese (aka Feta Cheese)

It would be best if you kept white cheese on your table as an appetizer, which is another must-have on the table. But here it should be noted: raki wants light foods next to it so that a medium-fat cheese will be a choice worthy for your pallet.

White Cheese

Melon

What fruit goes next to the raki? We can easily say melon. which is one of the sweet flavors of raki tables. Melon is one of the appetizers that lighten and even sweetens the anise smell in the raki content. Especially in season, the melon will leave a great taste on your pallet along with raki.

Melon

Muhammara

In our geography, the name has changed slightly from region to region, such as its flavor. It is also known as 'Aceva,' 'Acuka,' or 'Muhamamere.' Muhammara, each of which has a taste that will be suitable for raki tables, made with thick tomato paste, some spices and mixed with some crushed walnut. It is also an appetizer that you do not want to separate from your table.

Muhammara

Shakshuka

For those who want an appetizer next to raki, especially if you like eggplant, shakshuka is the right option. It is impossible to understand what we have written without trying the shakshuka appetizer, which is flavored with vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes and peppers in the lead role, mixed with spices.

Shakshuka

Humus 

Hummus is preferred mainly by vegans due to its high protein content. It is a mixture of chickpea paste, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, and cumin.

Humus

The Final word

The next time you visit a restaurant don't forget to try our selections. Although these meals have been selected as they have a deep connection with the historical concept of Meze, there are endless variations to choose from. You may also choose depending on what do you like to accompany them with. Our selections are ideal options to have with raki. The dishes may differ from region to region so that you can create your combinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many courses are there in Meze?

    When you are eating at an authentic restaurant, a meze can have three to five courses consisting of a great variety of items. These dishes often go well along with raki and other drinks.

  • Does a Turkish meze contain only hot foods?

    Turkish Meze is a blend of various hot and cold dishes such as dip sauces, cheeses, seafood, rusks, and bread.  

  • What are some popular appetizers in Turkey?

    Some popular Turkish meze dishes include Haydari, white cheese(feta cheese), melon, shakshuka, hummus, muhammara, babaganoush, and Tabbouleh.

  • Where can you have the best Meze in Istanbul?

    Some of the best places that offer delicious appetizers in Istanbul are Inciralti, Safe Meyhanesi, and Haydarpasa Mythos. All these restaurants have a unique yet finger-licking taste.

  • Can you eat Meze as the main course?

    Meze is more of a concept than an array of dishes. You can eat these dishes in any way you want, depending upon your likeness. These small platers can be served as an appetizer or main course both.

Popular Istanbul E-pass Attractions

  • Skip The Ticket Line Topkapi Palace Museum Entrance with Audio Guide

    Topkapi Palace Museum Entrance with Audio Guide Price without pass €20 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Galata Tower Entrance

    Galata Tower Entrance Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Hagia Sophia Guided Tour

    Hagia Sophia Guided Tour Price without pass €14 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Basilica Cistern Guided Tour

    Basilica Cistern Guided Tour Price without pass €25 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Bosphorus Cruise Tour with Dinner and Turkish Shows

    Bosphorus Cruise Tour with Dinner and Turkish Shows Price without pass €50 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Dolmabahce Palace Guided Tour

    Dolmabahce Palace Guided Tour Price without pass €28 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Whirling Dervishes Show

    Whirling Dervishes Show Price without pass €20 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Bursa Tour Day Trip From Istanbul

    Bursa Tour Day Trip From Istanbul Price without pass €45 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Istanbul Aquarium Florya

    Istanbul Aquarium Florya Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Istiklal Street and Taksim Square Guided Tour

    Istiklal Street and Taksim Square Guided Tour Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Topkapi Palace Harem Section Entrance

    Topkapi Palace Harem Section Entrance Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Sapanca Lake and Masukiye Tour Day Trip From Istanbul

    Sapanca Lake and Masukiye Tour Day Trip From Istanbul Price without pass €40 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Museum Of Illusions Istanbul Istiklal Street

    Museum Of Illusions Istanbul Istiklal Street Price without pass €11 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Istanbul

    Madame Tussauds Wax Museum Istanbul Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Sile & Agva Day Trip from Istanbul

    Sile & Agva Day Trip from Istanbul Price without pass €40 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Blue Mosque Istanbul Guided Tour

    Blue Mosque Istanbul Guided Tour Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Dolmabahce Palace Harem Section Guided Tour

    Dolmabahce Palace Harem Section Guided Tour Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Guided Tour Grand Bazaar Istanbul Guided Tour

    Grand Bazaar Istanbul Guided Tour Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Bosphorus Cruise Istanbul

    Bosphorus Cruise Istanbul Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Princes Islands Boat Trip from Eminonu Port (Roundtrip)

    Princes Islands Boat Trip from Eminonu Port (Roundtrip) Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Princes Islands Boat Trip from Kabatas Port (Roundtrip)

    Princes Islands Boat Trip from Kabatas Port (Roundtrip) Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Airport Transfer Private (Discounted-2 way)

    Airport Transfer Private (Discounted-2 way) Price without pass €100 €27.95 per vehicle (one-way) View attraction

  • Guided Tour Istanbul Cinema Museum Entry with Guided Tour

    Istanbul Cinema Museum Entry with Guided Tour Price without pass €3 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Sapphire Observation Deck Istanbul

    Sapphire Observation Deck Istanbul Price without pass €10 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Istanbul Archaeological Museum Entrance

    Istanbul Archaeological Museum Entrance Price without pass €5 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Museum of Ancient Oriental Works Entrance

    Museum of Ancient Oriental Works Entrance Price without pass €5 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Tiled Pavilion Museum Entrance

    Tiled Pavilion Museum Entrance Price without pass €5 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Hagia Irene Museum Entrance

    Hagia Irene Museum Entrance Price without pass €7 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Rumeli Fortress Museum Entrance

    Rumeli Fortress Museum Entrance Price without pass €3 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Istanbul Airport Shuttle

    Istanbul Airport Shuttle Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Sabiha Gokcen Istanbul Airport Shuttle

    Sabiha Gokcen Istanbul Airport Shuttle Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Istanbul 4D SkyRide Simulation

    Istanbul 4D SkyRide Simulation Price without pass €5 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Sealife Aquarium Istanbul

    Sealife Aquarium Istanbul Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Balat Toy Museum Istanbul Entrance

    Balat Toy Museum Istanbul Entrance Price without pass €3 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Entrance

    Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum Entrance Price without pass €6 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Hop On Hop Off Bosphorus Cruise

    Hop On Hop Off Bosphorus Cruise Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Legoland Discovery Centre Istanbul

    Legoland Discovery Centre Istanbul Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Museum of Illusions Anatolia

    Museum of Illusions Anatolia Price without pass €11 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum Entrance

    Galata Mevlevi Lodge Museum Entrance Price without pass €3 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Museum Of The History Of Science and Technology in Islam Entrance

    Museum Of The History Of Science and Technology in Islam Entrance Price without pass €3 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Skip The Ticket Line Great Palace Mosaics Museum Entrance

    Great Palace Mosaics Museum Entrance Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Jungle Park Istanbul

    Jungle Park Istanbul Price without pass €5 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Safari Istanbul

    Safari Istanbul Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Walk In Dungeon Istanbul

    Dungeon Istanbul Price without pass €4 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Twizy Tour (Discounted)

    Twizy Tour (Discounted) Price without pass €95 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Cappadocia Tours From Istanbul (Discounted)

    Cappadocia Tours From Istanbul (Discounted) Price without pass €390 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Ephesus & Virgin Mary House Tour From Istanbul (Discounted)

    Ephesus & Virgin Mary House Tour From Istanbul (Discounted) Price without pass €310 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Western Turkey Tour From Istanbul (Discounted)

    Western Turkey Tour From Istanbul (Discounted) Price without pass €505 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Gallipoli Tour Day Trip from Istanbul (Discounted)

    Gallipoli Tour Day Trip from Istanbul (Discounted) Price without pass €95 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Troy Tour Day Trip from Istanbul (Discounted)

    Troy Tour Day Trip from Istanbul (Discounted) Price without pass €99 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Gallipoli & Troy Trip 2 Days 1 Night (Discounted)

    Gallipoli & Troy Trip 2 Days 1 Night (Discounted) Price without pass €155 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Reservation Required Covid-19 PCR test (Discounted)

    Covid-19 PCR test (Discounted) Price without pass €35 Discounted with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Temporary Unavailable Serefiye Cistern Guided Tour

    Serefiye Cistern Guided Tour Price without pass €15 Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction

  • Istanbul E-pass Customer Support

    Istanbul E-pass Customer Support Price without pass € Free with Istanbul E-pass View attraction