One of the pleasures of Turkish food is its freshness. Another point in its favour is that almost nothing gets wasted! A popular meal in a Turkish household and lokanta is dolma – stuffed vines, tomatoes, courgettes and peppers. A delicious meal but when making stuffed courgettes what the inside is used for it a special favourite of many - mucver.
This traditional vegetable dish is made from grated courgette, carrots and sometimes a small potato and flavoured with plenty of fresh dill. All bound together with flour and an egg. The batter is then fried a large spoonful at a time to golden brown on both sides. Served with suzme yoghurt it is an excellent lunch time snack or accompaniment to another meal. You can find mucver in the lokanta’s all over Turkey.
A lokanta is a small café which serves readymade food, ‘hazır yemek’. Displayed for the customer to choose you will find a number of vegetarian dishes and other traditional Turkish food including:
- Delicious ‘sulu yemek’ like kuru fasuliye, a Turkish bean casserole or nohurt a chickpea casserole in a tasty tomato sauce, sometimes quite spicy to always ask if it is acılı.
- Stuffed aubergine, ‘karnıiyarık’ this is a tasty meat filled aubergine then oven baked.
- Kadınbudu - which literally translates as lady’s thigh, a meatball made with rice and coated with egg and flour, very tasty.
- Köfte – meatballs of which the shape and spiciness is often dictated by the area in which you eat them. In a lokanta you will often find them served with other vegetable like potatoes, carrots and peas in a tomato sauce – not to be missed
- Salad and rice – are given as accompaniments to most meal orders but the salad might be a little different than you are used to, with a mixture of fresh herbs especially flat leafed parsley (maydanos), chilli peppers (fresh or pickled) and finely chopped onion sprinkled with herbs, occasional grated radish – beware this can be very strong as can the small green chilli’s!
- Iskender Kebab – named for Alexander the Great but actually invented in the 19th Century in Bursa by Iskender Efendi. A tastier and less fatty meal than a döner kebap (as long as you don’t have the melted butter poured over! It is layered thin slices of lamb meat over pitta bread with a hot tomato sauce. Traditionally served with yoghurt.
Of course there are regional variations but the selections above are normally found in most. If you are living in Turkey, you will quickly find your own favourite lokanta and its extremely good comfort food. If a visitor, look for them, they are often very busy with Turkish customers and are well worth a visit; the bill at the end of the meal will also be very pleasant surprise. Do not expect alcohol to be served in a lokanta but do try an ayran with your meal, this buttermilk drink is an acquired taste but very cooling on a hot day.