Gastronomic Travel: Street Food in Turkey and Egypt

Posted on August 10, 2010 by

While I’m out and about exploring India, this week’s guest post features the nearby shores of Egypt and Turkey. The Egypt Holidays team at Travel Supermarket brings us on a culinary tour through the street food culture and vibrant market scene of these two destinations.

Although I’ve visited both countries on different occasions and scoured their food markets, I’m no expert at Turkish and Egyptian cuisine. So if you’re as much of a foodie as I am, read more to find out these destinations’ essential eats and local fare and you’ll find yourself digging deeper into their world.

Colorful spices in Istanbul's food market

Where to Find Authentic Food in Turkey and Egypt

Take a stroll through a bustling marketplace during your Egyptian or Turkish holiday and you’ll be met with the smell of aromatic spices and freshly grilled meats from stalls, as well as the sounds of street hawkers trying to persuade you to purchase a portion of their delicious delicacies.

Throughout Turkey and Egypt you’ll find street carts selling a variety of delicious tidbits that you can enjoy as you peruse for a bargain or take in the sights, sounds and smells of a marketplace. These small meals are very affordable, so won’t break into your budget too much while you’re on your travels, and can help to fill you up for a day’s exploration.

Street food stall

Quintessential Egyptian Dish: Fuul

Egyptian cuisine tends to include a lot of vegetables and pulses, including chickpeas, which form the basis for one of the national dishes. Fuul is a dish of fava beans that have been cooked, crushed and mixed with onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice and lashings of olive oil. Often served as a breakfast dish with lots of bread as an accompaniment, it can be a great way of fuelling up for a day of exploring the Pyramids.

Ta'amiya frying Photo by khowaga1

Turkish Breakfast: Kahvalti

In contrast, breakfast in Turkey is known as ‘kahvalti’ – meaning ‘before coffee’ – and consists of a serving of strong black tea that is usually served with simit, a ring of bread that has been sprinkled with sesame seeds. Breakfast accompaniments can also include boiled eggs, melon, olives, spicy sausages (sucuk) and spicy cheese (cokelek).

Spicy Meatballs: Koftes

Koftes are a popular foodstuff that can be found on many a street cart in both countries. These spicy lamb meatballs are usually served with copious amounts of bread and cooling mint yoghurt, helping you to cool your palette of the onion and chilli flavors that add to the flavor.

Meatballs or Kofte

Kebab stand Most Popular Dish: Falafel & Kebabs

A favorite street food in Egypt is falafel, which consists of croquettes of a paste made from chickpeas and fava beans which have been blended with various spices. These are usually served in a pita bread with salad, pickled vegetables and a hummus-style sauce. This quick and wholesome vegetarian option is available for as little as 70p

For something meatier, both countries have a delicious selection of freshly grilled kebabs available, giving you the chance to pick up a filling shish kebab with all the trimmings for around £1.30

Egypt’s Classic Hawker Food: Koshari

For something more filling at lunchtime, the hearty Koshari (often spelt Kushuri) is one of the classic street hawker dishes of Egypt. Consisting of a mixture of chickpeas, lentils and a spiced tomato sauce served over pasta, this hearty dish will help to fill you up during lunchtime, the dish is very cheap and you’d be unlucky to pay any more than around £1.50 for a decent portion.

Turkish Staple Food: Pilav

In Turkey, pilav is another hearty dish that can help to sustain you until dinner time. Pilav is made using a mixture of spiced rice and added ingredients that differ from place to place, including meat and vegetable. So, if you’re feeling experimental there are plenty of variations of this dish for you to try. Pilav is a staple food that is a favourite for street chefs, so finding a portion shouldn’t be too difficult whilst you’re on your travels.

Pilav rice with condiments

Exotic Fare: Kokorec

If you have the stomach for it, there are some more unusual dishes available from street stalls, such as Kokorec, which consists of lamb or goat meat, spiced heavily and wrapped in intestine – most likely to disguise the taste. In the Aegean region of Turkey is another unusual street food of Kelle Sogus, made using various parts of sheep offal, marinated in oil and often served with lavas bread.

2463433491_148e36fa84_z Photo by auselen

Street hawkers can provide you with the opportunity to try exciting new dishes during your travels, and Egyptian and Turkish marketplaces certainly have a lot of foodstuffs to choose from and to enjoy, so be a little experimental in your travel eating!

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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the co-founder of WildJunket. As a professional travel writer with a special interest in offgrid destinations and adventure travel, she scours through the world in search for a slice of undiscovered paradise. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Guatemala, swam with sealions in the Galapagos and built a school in Tanzania.

10 Responses to “Gastronomic Travel: Street Food in Turkey and Egypt”

  1. Turkey Culture August 10, 2010 4:57 pm #

    Turkish foods really great…

  2. Migrationology August 10, 2010 6:24 pm #

    I’m scheduled to go to Egypt in a couple months and this article has got me excited! The food looks incredible and I’m sure the markets are buzzing with life and food. Can’t wait to see and eat some of these things in real life!

  3. Connie August 11, 2010 4:20 pm #

    Your photos have my mouth drooling! Thank you so much! I lived in Istanbul last year and I miss Turkish food so much! Can you believe that I'm having a hard time finding a good doner kebab in Thailand these days? =) And koshari! So many people think the idea of it is so gross, just tossing in bit and pieces of leftovers and adding a new flavored sauce on top, but hey, it's essentially a meatloaf, Egyptian style. One thing I do have to say though, I'm disappointed you left out the Turkish mediye, pilav stuffed mussels sprinkled with a generous dose of lemon juice that they sell in the streets. They are simply to die for! After a night out in Tunel, I could eat a dozen of those mussels and you pay less than 10 liras! Yumm…there I go, drooling all over again!

    • Nellie August 18, 2010 4:56 am #

      Koshari! I absolutely loved it, had some pretty decent ones in Luxor. One thing this article missed out were the deep-fried mussels in Istanbul, I know what you mean, the best street food ever.

  4. aop August 17, 2010 11:12 am #

    Chinese ,specially cantonese,love eating ,but it is big problem when travelling ,as the cantonese are used for many soya bean less meal .

  5. aop August 17, 2010 11:21 am #

    中國人食得好清,多豆多蔬菜,唯獨少肉類,所以有時去到外國最唔慣的就係食物

  6. M.RADWAN October 17, 2010 2:27 am #

    Great Article .thanks

    Isuggest to all of you to taste Kushari …its incredible dish

    ohh … miss it so much

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  8. Nellie September 21, 2010 10:32 pm #

    Thanks Donna, that\’s really useful. I\’ll definitely check out Sarah\’s courses when I get the chance.

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