Turkish cuisine has a very long history and is influenced by nomadic cooking traditions of Turkic peoples as well as Persian, Kurdish, Arabic, and Armenian cuisine and the cuisines of the Mediterranean and the Caucasus areas.
Although some dishes are well-known and popular throughout the country (read about 20 of the most favorite dishes in Turkey), there are of course regional differences depending on the area.
Antalya is a region of relaxation and is well-known for its beaches, Roman ruins, and resorts. However, you may be surprised by the variety of local dishes available only in Antalya.
Here are 22 typical, local dishes you should try when you are in the Antalya region. Enjoy…
1. Tahini Piyaz Salad
Antalya Piyaz is a dish made of small white beans with plenty of tarator sauce poured on top. Tarator sauce is made from tahini-sesame sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, salt garlic, and olive oil.
In other regions, piyaz is eaten as a salad, but in Antalya it counts as a main dish and has tahini in it. This dish is on the list of geographically labeled products and was registered by the patent office in 2017.
2. Arap Kadayıf
Small pockets of dough are fried in hot oil on one side, filled with a mixture of walnuts, sugar, and cinnamon, then closed and fried until ready. Afterwards, the lukewarm dumplings are drizzled with lemon sugar syrup.
To serve, the dessert is sprinkled with finely chopped walnuts or pistachios. Arap Kadayıf is also known as "stone kadayıf" or "flat kadayıf" in some regions of Turkey.
3. Meatball Skewers
Small meatballs are placed on skewers, alternating with onions and peppers, and then grilled over barbecue charcoal. A classic in the cuisine of Antalya. It goes well with piyaz - as a salad...
4. Serpme Patty
Serpme patties or börek are filled pastries made from a thin dough, usually yufka. They are filled with minced meat, cheese, or boiled potatoes and many other things.
The pies are baked in the oven or fried in oil in a pan, the top is brushed with egg yolk or sprinkled with sesame seeds.
5. Tahini Pumpkin Dessert
Slices of pumpkin are cooked in sugar water and then doused with sesame sauce - tahini - and finely chopped walnuts. Turkish people just love it. An interesting and tasty dessert for you to try.
Bağaça is a sesame and cinnamon flavored pastry. Especially during the fasting month of Ramadan, Bağaça is consumed a lot. The sesame roll has been traditionally made in Antalya since the 1940s and is very popular.
7. Bergamot Marmalade
Bergamot is a citrus fruit that probably originated from a cross between sweet lime and bitter orange. They look like green lemons and have a very sour and slightly bitter taste. From their peel, bergamot oil is extracted. It's used in many perfumes and colognes.
In Antalya, marmalade is made from bergamot. Turkish marmalade, by the way, is much sweeter than German.
8. Kulaklı Soup
Small dumplings filled with minced meat are cooked along with chickpeas in tomato sauce. It's seasoned with pepper, mint, and lemon.
The soup is also known as ravioli soup, although the dumplings are much smaller than ravioli. Delicious!
9. Gülüklü Soup
This soup is prepared from tiny meatballs, chickpeas, and rice that are cooked together in tomato sauce. Then rumen or alternatively chicken meat is added. It's seasoned with lemon, mint, pepper, and red bell pepper.
Traditionally, this soup is served at weddings. The dish is on the list of geographically marked products and has been registered by the patent office.
10. Lentil Ice Cream
Even though it is called lentil ice cream, it is not a dessert at all, but an appetizer prepared with lentils, rice, onions, peppers, and garlic and served cold. The taste is mild and refreshing.
Tırmış, also called the "wet snack", are yellow lupin beans seeds. Traditionally, they are eaten as a snack between meals. Alkaloids make the seeds very bitter, which is why they have to be soaked in seawater or salt water for up to 14 days before they can be eaten.
The taste is somewhat reminiscent of a pea. After cooking they acquire a nutty flavor. Street vendors sell tırmış in their mobile wagons.
Hibeş is an appetizer made of sesame paste, lemon, garlic, and spices. Many years ago, Arabs brought this interesting appetizer to Antalya. Today it's served as a meze with rakı, eaten as a spread, or as a sauce with meat and chicken dishes. The sesame flavor is very dominant.
13. Burnt Ice Cream
Burnt ice cream is made from very fatty goat milk from goats that are fed wild thyme. It's flavored with sahlep, a flour made from dried wild orchid roots.
To make it, the milk is brought to a boil in a large kettle with constant stirring. Because of its high fat content, the milk burns easily and sticks to the pot. The ice cream has a sharp, smoky flavor.
14. Phrygian Stuffed Pepper
Washed peppers are stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, which is prepared after waiting in water, and fried with egg and flour. Yogurt is often served with it.
15. Stuffed Rack of Lamb
Stuffed rack of lamb is also known as stuffed ribs. Lamb ribs are brushed with a spice mixture containing thyme, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. Then they are topped with seasoned rice and tied together so that the conches face up. The dish is then grilled.
16. Leğen Kömbesi
This large, thin flatbread originates from the Yörük culture. The bread is prepared from flour, poppy seeds, yeast, and grape syrup. After baking, it's kept in oiled trays - leğen - from where it gets its name. In the past, leğen kömebsi was baked in stone ovens, but today it's mostly baked in electric ovens.
17. Alanya Bohçası
Pancakes, as thin as crepes, are fried. A filling of cheese, potatoes, minced meat, or spinach is then placed in the center. The edges of the pancakes are then folded up and tied into a bundle, called a bohça.
18. Tomato Cive
Tomatoes are cooked in their own juice along with onions fried in olive oil, green peppers, bulgur or rice, and plenty of garlic. It's seasoned with salt and pepper. The dish can be eaten cold or hot.
19. Toros Salad
Parsley, green onions, dill, mint, arugula, and tomatoes are chopped and mixed. It's seasoned with sumac, pomegranate syrup, olive oil, salt, and chopped red pepper. The salad is eaten as a side dish with meat dishes or for breakfast.
20. Cretan Kebab with Artichoke
Lamb is marinated in a lemon and garlic sauce and then put on skewers with artichokes, tomatoes, and onions. These are grilled over charcoal. The dish originated in Crete, but is now one of Antalya's local specialties.
Bananas are grown on the coast between Alanya and Gazipaşa on the hills facing the sea. Bananas love the humid winds. The locals say "bananas love the sea".
These fruits from Antalya are smaller and much sweeter than their big sisters from Africa and South America. They are also called donkey bananas. You should definitely try them...
Of course, you should try fresh fish in Antalya. The wealth of species is almost inexhaustible, among others there is spiny mackerel, barracuda, snout bream, white grouper, sea bass, mullet, and swordfish. Red mullet with its red meat is especially popular. The brown grouper - orfoz- used to be eaten only by fisherman. Today it is one of the specialties in Antalya.
Traditionally, fish is served with tarator sauce, a sauce made of tahini/sesame paste, lemon juice, vinegar, salt garlic, and olive oil.
Which of these dishes do you want to try the most? Let us know in the comments below.
If you liked this article, check out our food in Antalya page for more inspiration and things to try in Antalya!