So the story goes, in the time of the Prophet Abraham, a hunter killed a deer for his family, but the King had banned people from making fires. Unable to cook his catch, he took out the tenderloin added salt, peppers and onions and smashed the meat with two rocks. The result was Cig Kofta, raw meat with spices that’s similar to the kibbeh nayyeh eaten throughout the Middle East. Great with olive oil, fresh mint and flatbread.
It might not be for the faint of heart, but it’s definitely for the fan of flavour. Kokoreç is made out of lamb’s intestines, but don’t let that put you off. They are cleaned out, wrapped around animal fats and cooked over coals. The whole thing is then chopped up and cooked on a flat grill with tomatoes, peppers and spices and made into a sandwich. Add a glass of Aryan yoghurt drink, and enjoy the flavour and crunchy texture of one of Istanbul’s most popular street foods.
Istanbul’s king of street foods, Simit is sold in little carts on almost every corner. It’s a ring-shaped Turkish bread like a soft pretzel, dipped in syrup and dotted with sesame seeds, and it’s the cheapest food available in the city. The best tasting ones are those baked in a traditional brick oven.
These simple grilled fish sandwiches are among the best things you can try in Istanbul. Go down to the water’s edge in Eminonu, and you’ll see and smell the mackerel being cooked. When smokey and slightly crisp, the fish is placed in crusty white bread with red onions and lettuce for one of the most delicious sandwiches you’ve ever tasted anywhere.
Iskembe corbasi - tripe soup
As you’ve probably worked out by now, offal is very much a part of Turkish street food culture. This tripe soup is held particularly dear to many Turks who’ve indulged in rather a bit too much alcohol and are in desperate need of a hangover cure. Often served with a sprinkling of lemon and garlic crushed with salt, this stuff is the ideal snack to retire on after a night on the town.
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.