By Devashree Sanghvi, Thecrazyindianfoodie.
The spectacular country of Turkey is a culinary paradise being a melting pot of cultures, flavours and cuisines. The best of both Asia and Europe is wonderfully reflected on Turkish food that is aromatic, rich and made with fresh local ingredients.
I recently paid a visit to Gaziantep, the food capital of Turkey with Turkey Tourism in India to experience its rich culinary heritage and culture. I was completely bowled over by the sheer variety and flavours of authentic Turkish food available in Antep.
I also got a chance to explore Istanbul, a bustling city with a host of things to do, see and eat. Read my Istanbul travel and food guide here.
The birthplace of the world-famous sweet Baklava, Gaziantep is a food heaven with the freshest and highest quality produce grown here locally. It’s large number of local restaurants and markets make for a culinary experience like no other. A 2-hour flight from Istanbul can transport you to this ancient city of gastronomy that is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world.
Also known as ‘Antep’ to locals, this Turkish city produces some of the world’s best quality pistachios with its hot desert climate being favourable to the growth of sweet, crisp pistachios that are used extensively in local recipes like Baklava and Katmer.
The local food is reminiscent of the multiple civilizations this city has been through, reflected wonderfully on its vibrant cuisine.
I attended the Gastro Antep fest in Gaziantep that showcased some of the regions best food producers, local retailers and cultural performances giving me an insight into the dynamic Turkish culture
From melt in your mouth Baklava to tandoor cooked kebabs, refreshing sherbets to Turkish flatbread to local cheese, this popular festival had the best of Turkish gastronomy under one roof.
Being a UNESCO Creative Gastronomy City, Gaziantep is a culinary tourism hotspot with people flocking here from all corners of the world to sample its delicious food.
Here are the Top 5 foods you have to try in Gaziantep/Things to eat in Gaziantep, Turkey :
1. Baklava :
Find the finest, most exquisite Baklava in Gaziantep which is the birthplace of this world-famous dessert.
Layers and layers of sweet pistachios cocooned between crisp, sweet phyllo pastry, baked together to perfection makes for this delicate and beautiful dessert. Biting into an Antep Baklava feels heavenly and it’s a taste you won’t ever forget.
I tried these at İmam Çağdaş, a landmark bakery and restaurant since 1887, serving some of Antep’s best Baklavas. Get charmed by the rows and rows of fresh Baklava in all shapes, colours and sizes as you enter this famous establishment that also has a traditional restaurant serving authentic Turkish cuisine.
2. Katmer :
Not only a delight to the palate but also to the eyes, the Katmer is an age olf Turkish dessert made with a flair.
Fresh dough is rolled, flipped and stretch to a delicate sheet. This is then topped with a concoction of pistachios, castor sugar and clotted cream, later folded into a square with the edges sealed off. This is then baked to a crisp golden brown leaving you with a warm, crunchy, sweet and delicious dessert with beautifully balanced flavours. Find this at Katmerci Zekeria Utsa.
3. Dolma :
Are you a vegetarian or a vegan? The Dolma is a healthy side dish/starter that is a major part of any Turkish meal.
Steamed Vine leaves stuffed with herbed rice or grilled veggies stuffed with rice this tastes really good, especially with some hung curd. This is healthy, nutritious and filling and can be found in any authentic Turkish restaurant.
4. Kebabs :
Find melt in your mouth, succulent kebabs at one of the many local bazaars in Gaziantep. A visit to the local markets is a culturally enriching experience with a wide variety of spices, colours and flavours to be seen. Turkey is the birthplace of this popular dish and it can be found in many varieties in Antep.
Kebeapci Halil Usta and Imam Cagdas serve some really good kebabs that you have to try when in Gaziantep.
5. Pistachio Lava Cake :
One of the finest desserts I have ever tried, this unique pistachio lava cake is found at Bogazkoy restaurant that has patented the recipe. Phyllo pastry stuffed with a gooey, rich and creamy sweet pistachio sauce served with fresh ice cream is an unforgettable and magnificent dessert.
Apart from the above, some other must-try dishes in Gaziantep are the local hummus and pita, Turkish coffee, spicy muhammara, local buttermilk and of course the pistachios.
I also got a chance to visit a local Antep pistachio farm in the desert, where I learnt all about pistachio harvesting and also got to pick and try fresh pistachios straight from the source. This is an absolute must-do activity when in Gaziantep.
In your free time you can explore the famous Gaziantep Zeguma mosaic museum, walk around local markets like the coppersmith bazaar, hike up to the castle (Gaziantep Kalesi), check out the culinary museum (Gzaiantep Emine Gogus Mutfak Muzesi), visit local mosques like the Omeriye Camii and learn about this city’s rich history.
Overall, I had an unforgettable experience in Gaziantep and I would highly recommend visiting this gastronomical paradise, especially if you love trying new cuisines.
For more information on Gaziantep click here.
Thecrazyindianfoodie recommends. Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Tik tok, Twitter Snapchat and Zomato for more.