Sunday, May 3, 2009

Traditional Turkish Breakfast (Geleneksel Türk Kahvaltısı)

Have you ever had Turkish breakfast? Those of you who have visited Turkey or have close Turkish friends or family members, probably have had a taste of what Turkish breakfast entails. Breakfast in Turkey is not only about food, but also about family time and gathering.

In Turkish, breakfast is called “kahvaltı” which is derived from “kahve altı” which literally means “under coffee” or “before coffee”. As you may guess, traditionally Turkish coffee (kahve) is not drunk during breakfast, rather after breakfast or in the afternoon. A traditionally brewed black tea is an indispensable part of breakfast. Along with hot black tea, white cheese (analogous to feta), boiled eggs, green or black olives, çökelek (spicy cheese), Turkish sausage, helva, pekmez (grape or mulberry molasses), tomatoes, cucumbers, honey, jam, fresh butter, an omelet called “menemen” and fresh warm bread complete Turkish breakfast. Occasionally, böreks, pides, fried potatoes and various types of pastries are also served for breakfasts. Soups such as “red lentil soup” or “rice soup” can be a part of breakfast in some households. In my household in Turkey, in the summer months, grapes and watermelon are a must during breakfast.

Simit (similar to sesame bagel) is a very popular snack for breakfast. Most people who go to work every morning, will grab a simit on the way to work and eat it with hot tea for breakfast. Students also tend to purchase simit for a quick breakfast. My first and only attempt to make simit at home resulted in failure. Although, when I have some time, I will put my hands to work until I get it right.

Above are some pictures of a typical Turkish breakfast. The breakfast I have set up is very traditional, however does not include everything I have mentioned above. One by one, I would like to describe each of the items in the pictures. I will use the first picture to describe each item.
In the middle of the picture, we have boiled eggs with toasted bread in the plate. This bread is not the traditional bread we eat in Turkey, but since Turkish bread is not available here, we consume this multigrain bread. However, I am including pictures of homemade (after a couple unsuccessful attempts) Turkish flat bread (pide ekmeği) and Turkish somun bread below that are eaten at breakfast. I will post recipes for these breads at another date.

Turkish Flat Bread (Pide Ekmeği)

Turkish Somun Bread (Somun Ekmeği)

To the right of the red plate is Turkish tea, in a slim belly glass which is very traditional. I personally do not get the taste of tea, unless I drink my tea in these glasses. Right above the tea is apricot jam. Straight above the jam is “yayık tereyağı” which is butter that is strained from fresh yogurt. In some parts of Turkey it can be made from milk. For centuries, women in villages have made this kind of butter. It used to be rarely found in supermarkets since commercial butter has taken their place on the shelves. I used to watch my late grandmother when she used to make this butter at home. She used to have a wooden, cylinder shaped item where she would place the yogurt and then shake it vigorously until the butter separated from yogurt. This butter is in its most natural form; no chemicals or any foreign ingredients. It is the tastiest butter I have ever tasted. I guess it is not surprising since it is all natural. I found this type of butter (made from milk instead of yogurt) at the local Turkish market a few months ago and I was very surprised as I did not realize that it was sold in markets. To tell the truth, my grandmother’s butter was much better, but this particular one is still preferable to the other commercial butter that is so detrimental to our health. I actually looked at the ingredients of this butter when I purchased it and it had only two ingredients; milk cream and milk culture.

To the left of the butter, fried potatoes are waiting quietly in a small plate. Straight above the potatoes, a plate full of Turkish sausage, white cheese and kaşar cheese. White cheese is very similar to feta cheese, but I think it’s a little creamier. It can be produced from cow’s or sheep’s milk. No breakfast is complete without white cheese in Turkey. Kaşar cheese is a yellowish cheese that reminds me of swiss cheese. Usually, it is made out of sheep’s milk.

To the left of the sausage and cheese plate is a plate full of black olives. Either green or black olives accompany every Turkish breakfast. Dressing olives is a very common practice even for breakfast. I will post some dressed olive recipes sometime in the future. Below the olives is a pan with a vegetable omelet. Usually “menemen” replaces this omelet, but again it is a matter of preference. That morning, we felt like having an omelet with the veggies we had available in the fridge.

In the left of the omelet is a box of helva with pistachios. This is a sweet that can be based on flour or semolina. Above the helva is a plate of sliced tomato slices with some peppers. The day I set up this breakfast, I did not have any cucumbers on hand, so just imagine that there are fresh, sliced cucumbers next to the tomatoes.

Right below the helva is honey that came with me all the way from Turkey. This honey is produced by my father’s bees that he raises as a hobby. It does taste much better than the commercial honey.

Breakfasts, especially weekend breakfasts are always eaten together with family in Turkey. That is something I look forward to when I visit Turkey. During the summer months, I especially enjoy my mother-in-law’s breakfast which is very rich in variety, set up in the middle of a rose garden, under the shade of an arched pergola covered in bougainvillea vine. It did not take me long to figure out the reason behind my husband’s wanting to have a big breakfast every Saturday and Sunday. Although, we do not have the beautiful setting of his front yard in Turkey, we have the food and each other. Our longest and most useful conversations occur during breakfast and afterwards while sipping our tea. During the week, we have a banana, an apple and some other fruits that are in season such as orange or strawberries for breakfast which we eat at work. Therefore, the weekend breakfast is something we both look forward to.

Note: The picture on the top of my blog behind the title shows a typical Turkish breakfast. My sister-in-law prepared this inviting breakfast table at her house when I visited her in Ankara, Turkey last summer.

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Anonymous said...

I strongly recommend you to prepare these kind of breakfast everyweekend, since it looks very very delicious.


Soma said...

Nihal it's seven in the morning & just reading all these i am hungry.. my favorite turkish bread, apricot jam, spicy cheese Even tho i have never had the tea, your description in that glass...:-) that is one elaborate breakfast I would just love relax & have it served to me!! may be if i ever take a vacation to turkey! My dream!

Summer said...

Nihal, It is amazing how Turkish breakfast table is so similar to Arabic breakfast breakfast is complete without the tea in the special transparent glasses, home made jams, different kinds of white and yellow cheeses and types of eggs cooked more than one way...fresh flat breads and delicious halva...all sounds so so yummy!! it is late here and i am already craving breakfast :) thanks for sharing your table with us.

Yosra Ahmed said...

Asalamo alikom Nahla

It's me, Yosra, again :)
I asked you about the Turkish Flat Bread (Pide Ekmeği) before and I'd like to remined you to give me the recipe, Plzzzzz.

In general I like the turkish food and i'm checking your blog every day for your new plates

May ALLAH blees you.


lisaiscooking said...

I've never had a Turkish breakfast, but I hope to some day. It looks like a big, delicious meal. Must be fun with your whole family.

zerrin said...

Nihal, bir kahvaltı sever olarak bu tanıtımına bayıldım. Gecenin bu saatinde çok fena iştahım açıldı. Ellerine sağlık.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Sure Umit... I don't know about every weekend, but since we're married, you can count on most weekends! :)

Soma, sorry to get you hungry with these pictures! Come join us for breaksfast! I certainly hope you get to take your vacation in Turkey.

Summer, you are certainly right; we have so many similarities in our breakfasts and cuisine. I sometimes like to mix Arabic tea with Turkish tea before brewing. This type of breakfast can even be eaten at dinner time when you don't feel like cooking.

Hi Yosra, yes I remember you and I didn't forget about the recipe. I promise, I'll post it very soon. Thanks for checking my blog often. Btw, don't get me wrong, but I prefer being called 'Nihal' since that's my name. I know you probably have a similar name in Arabic. Thanks!

Lisa, it is always fun sharing food with others be it family or friends. It is for sure a big meal; you wouldn't get hungry at all till lunch. Thanks for stopping by.

Zerrin, evet kahvalti her saatte guzel oluyor. Tesekkur ederim.

Anonymous said...

ahhhhh kahvalti..! Yes indeed,the Turkish breakfast is definitely a hearty affair! Bytheway,I even learned how to prepare the tea in the proper manner,with the double kettle.!Unfortunately I didnt bring one back wth me..I wonder if I still remember..Do you mix some bergamot in it aswell? I am definitely on the waiting list for the recipe of that gorgeous bread! :)
heheehe I thought that was your husband..:) very cute!

Summer said...

i agree Nihal, i love to have breakfast meal for dinner the summer time, my favorite meal for dinner is watermelon with white cheese, feta or local arabic ones, such as nabulsyyah cheese from nablus in palestine, or halloumi or Akkawi, the ones that are a little bit salty, the balance of salt and sweet together with fresh bread is out of this world!!! thanks for posting this.

My Turkish Kitchen said...

Kahvalti benim de en sevdigim ogun. Tek basima olsam bile cayimi demleyip, kahvaltimi yaparim.
Kahvalti sofrasi ve yazdiklarin harika...

thenomadGourmand said...

i luv my breakfasts! we malaysians eat at all times of the day; almost every meal is turkey is it only breakfast that such a vast array of dishes are served?

farida said...

Nihal,Turkish breakfast is absolutely amazing. Azerbaijani breakfast is close to Turkish, but honestly Turkish breakfast is more abundant and varied. Love it! You did a great job explaining everything in details. Ellerine saglik, arkadasim. Turk mutfagina bayiliyorum.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Mia, good for you for making tea the proper Turkish way! Double tea kettle is always on the stove when we're at home. My husband is a tea addict. When you visit Antalya again, you could get the double kettle. It really makes a difference in the taste. Oh yes, I do add bergamot to the tea which I learned from a friend's mom.

Summer, watermelon and cheese goes go together pretty well. I just love that combination too. Thanks for sharing!

Iffet, kahvalti uzerine yok gercekten. Cay demleme ve icme zevki de ayri birsey. Tesekkurler ugradigin icin!

Thenomadgourmand, in Turkey we have a big breakfast and a pretty decent lunch and a big dinner. We sure like to eat!

Feride, thank you for your comments. Never had Azerbaijani breakfast; I am guessing it's also really good. You’re pretty exposed to Turkish food, aren’t you? Thanks for stopping by!

Yosra Ahmed said...

Selam Nihal:)

Thanks for your kind replay,
I'm really sorry for writing your name wrong,I thought I read it Nahla in your profile, Please forgive me for this miswriting.

Jaya said...

my first time here much to learn from here ..all are looking so delicious ,wish i can taste it..
hugs and smiles

farida said...

Nihal, yes, I am very much exposed to Turkish food as I am married to a Turkish guy:)) ANd I cook more Turkish than Azerbaijani on a daily basis:) Our foods have a lot in common. Some dishes are almost identical.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Yosra, no sweat. It happens :)

Jaya, thank you. Hope to see you here again.

Feride, well since you're married to a Turk, good thing you love Turkish food then :) I am sure we have many similar or identical dishes.

Yasmeen said...

A very satisfying traditional breakfast feast ,nihal:)

Anonymous said...

I have never had a Turkish breakfast - it looks excellent! Everything looks delicious!

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, keep in touch!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

as i looked through your beautiful array of food, i thought that so many of the items look familiar from my own cuisine.
i can imagine serving something like this for brunch, which would carry on until the late afternoon!

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Thanks Yasmeen.

5 Star Foodie, thank you and I'll definitely visit back. I liked your blog.

Maria, thank you. It's definitely perfect for brunch. When we have this breakfast on the weekends, we don't feel the need to have lunch.

Sapuche said...

Turkish breakfasts are without a doubt some of the best I’ve ever had! Unfortunately, because I went to Turkey as a traveler I didn’t get to enjoy my meals with Turkish families. I’m sure it’s a wonderful occasion. I really loved seeing these photos and look forward to your bread recipes!

Nihal said...

Have I ever had Turkish breakfast? Yes, every morning I have been, lol:)
The world does not know but our traditional Turkish breakfast is so rich with high-calorie that one could easily end up the day without any hunger.

So informatique article N, big thanks for the time you took when composing.

Mediterranean Turkish Cook said...

Sapuche, glad to hear you liked the Turkish breakfast when you were in Turkey. I am working on my post for the bread recipe.

Nihal, I envy you having a big breakfast everyday. You're right, it'll definitely keep you going all day without getting hungry.