Istanbul Street Food

Last year, Mateja and me went on a trip through Asia. We saw a lot, experienced a lot, and of course, ate a lot :) In the next couple of posts I will tell you all about it. Mostly about food, less about sights, as this is, after all, a food blog, and the food in Asia is so exciting.

Istanbul Street Wendors

Our first stop – Istanbul. What a city! So many people, shops, food, sweets, carpets… All in all, colors everywhere. Sellers literary drag us into the shops, serve tea and by all means try to sell us carpets for special discounted prices. They explain how their carpet is an essential and necessary item on our journey :) It is a carpet, but it can also be a blanket, or a pillow, and it can be bundled so small that it will fit into a backpack.

Istanbul Street Wendors

Cats everywhere. Walking completely relaxed, like dogs in our country. A very few dogs though.

Back to the food. Turkish cuisine is very similar to all other Balkan cuisines and generally, you can make no mistake, whatever you have. Everything is very delicious.

Today I will tell you about street food of Istanbul.

Istanbul Chestnuts Street Seller

First thing we tried were roasted chestnuts. Twice the size of the chestnuts I am used on the streets of Belgrade. Neatly placed on a vendor cart, perfectly opened so you don’t bother much peeling them, but way undercooked. What a disappointement!

Pomergrantes in Istanbul

Gigantic pomergrantes! Everywhere a small store or a street vendor that will prepare fresh juice.

Pomergrante Juice, Preparation

A glass of juice is 3 Turkish liras (about 1,5 euros or 2$). A guy with the surgical gloves squeezes it out on a special press and even strains it. Very nice.

Pomergrante Juice

Hakiki Sicak Salep

A guy that worked at the hostel we stayed at told us there is a drink we must try. He couldn’t remember the English word for it and said it’s served with lots of cinnamon and that it’s made out of a kind of flower. And indeed, it was an orchid drink. Salep is made from orchid tuber flour and water (or milk), sweetened, then flavored with rose water. Served very very hot and to me tasting like a rice pudding. The sign at the cart says “genuine hot orchid”. Apparently, the drink was so popular throughout the country that it endangered certain species of orchids. Export is prohibited and many artificially flavored powders appeared.

Istanbul Street Wendors

Turkish Churos Street Seller

Don’t know the name of this one but it was amazing. King of a deep fried dough, something between tulumba and churo, soaked into sugary syrup and sprinkled with dessicated coconut and ground pistachios.

Istanbul Farmers Market

We’ve been to the markets also. Basically, everything you can find in Serbia, but most of the fruits way bigger.

Islak Burger

Inside Islak (Wet) Burger is a meatball in tomato sauce. Then the whole bun is soaked in that sauce too. Sooo good! But too small to be called a burger. I could eat 3 or 4 without blinking.

Tarihi Osmanli

This is Macun – an old Ottoman candy. I’m not a great fan of sweets and this one seemed like a melted lollipop. No way I’m gonna lick melted sugar from a screwdriver! At least that’s how I felt at the moment. But just a couple of days later I was eating way more gross stuff and loved it. Feel kind of sorry now that I haven’t tasted this one.

Pickles Drink Street Seller

Another one we didn’t have :) Imagine a liquid from pickled vegetables, poured in a cup then stuffed with all kinds of pickled vegetables! We make sauerkraut in Serbia. At home. It’s pickled cabbage, for those who don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I love sauerkraut! I adore it! But some people like to drink the liquid that cabbage ferments in. And that’s bittery and sour and to me not tasty at all!

Turkish Pickles Drink

You would be surprised how many people buy this! Like you would buy and ice cream. Looks beautiful though :)

Midye Dolma

Midye Dolma – Turkish stuffed mussels. Rice is first fried with herbs and mussels slightly cooked. After, the mussels are stuffed with rice and eaten sprinkled with freshly squeezed lemon juice. Very, very tasty.

Turkish Coffe & Nargile

Finally, no visit to Turkey is complete without Turkish coffee and nargile :) We sit in a coffee shop for a coffee, tea and nargile. The owner approaches to take the order and tells us whispering that he’s got beer also, it just isn’t on the menu. Are the taxes too high or it’s something else, I don’t know, but it is not common to find beer in a coffee shop and it’s much more expensive than in Serbia. Even in the stores.

Coffee is exactly as we drink it in Serbia – strong and black. It will always come with a piece of Turkish delight that tastes as it’s been made five minutes ago and melts in your mouth.


The waiter brings us nargile, lights it up and leaves. With coffee, a real treat!

Turkish Tea & Nargila

Turkish people drink black tea more than coffee. And it’s always served in a specific glass. Turkish çay is traditionally prepared with two kettles stacked one over another. In lower, bigger one, is first boiled some water. Than the top one, smaller, is filled with tea leaves and filled with the previously boiled water. This produces very strong tea that is later diluted with the remaining water to taste.

To be continued…

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  • mignonnne May 13, 2011 4:51 am

    Sjajan post i prave putopisne “crtice” i fotke, bas sam uzivala i jedva cekam nastavak!;)))

  • Belinda @zomppa May 13, 2011 5:02 am

    Everything here looks simply wonderful!! Would make me happy.

  • Melita May 13, 2011 5:15 am

    Nemam teksta, fantastican clanak!!! Sjajne slike i opis! Pravi dozivljaj i za nas koji samo zavirimo u taj svijet kroz tvoj blog! ;)

  • Tamara May 13, 2011 6:09 am

    Obožavam ove putopisne postove, ovaj je odličan i jako zanimljiv. Fotke su super, zanimljiva hrana, divno!

  • ferraris anna May 13, 2011 6:23 am

    OMG!!! These pomagranates are gorgeous…

  • Banu Bingör May 13, 2011 7:00 am

    Just a note about the beer issue: You need to have a kind of license (of trades) to sell alcoholic drinks at a store/restaurant/cafe… Ordinary coffee/tea houses/shops are just licensed to sell soft drinks like tea/coffee/juices etc… Some of the cafes have the license to sell beer/wine/raki etc as well as any other soft drinks. That’s why you can’t buy beer at an ordinary coffee house where they are supposed to sell soft drinks :) Not anything else…
    Btw… I’m just back from a week of holiday and have loads and tons of things to do at home :)))) As soon as I have a time to buy the best ready Kemalpasha, I’ll send a couple packages to you :)
    note: We do not eat that colorful macun at all. It’s just an old traditional candy from the Ottoman empire and generally sold “touristically” :)))) And picle juice is something I do not prefer to drink as it will later make much more thirst, and should not be bought from a street seller who you are not so sure of :) I’d rather try it from some of famous and familiar pickle shops. And once again not choose to drink eighter :)))

    • Marija May 13, 2011 7:42 am

      Great :) Thank you so much for Kemalpasha!!!

  • Banu Bingör May 13, 2011 7:02 am

    Oh and btw Sultanahmet area is always way much more expensive than other parts of Istanbul. (Though some of the regions can be much more expensive than Sultanahmet :))) )

  • Banu Bingör May 13, 2011 7:04 am

    And just one final note: If you like those Turkish delights served with coffee at those coffee shops then I hope you have tried real Turkish delights from the oldest candy/delight/confisserie shop Haci Bekir in Sirkeci (or in Beyoglu). You would fall in love with them :)

    • Marija May 13, 2011 7:40 am

      On ho! I haven’t :(

      Though, Istanbul is not far from my home and as we really fell in love with the city we decided to visit it again. Soon, I hope :)

      An I hope we’ll be able to organize better and finally meet each other :)

  • Banu Bingör May 13, 2011 7:06 am

    Ah ah and just just another final note :))))
    We (I’m talking on be half of family, not whole Istanbulins lol) almost never buy midye dolma in Istanbul except a few real well known places. (Some good fish restaurants and from the northern part of the Bosphorus).

  • Susan May 13, 2011 7:19 am

    Really stunning post that brings back wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing these!

  • Lynda May 13, 2011 7:27 am

    Wonderful photos! I love Istanbul.

  • Пепеляшка May 13, 2011 7:31 am

    Привет от България!
    Аз също много обичам и Турция, и турската кухна, за която съм писала тук :
    Много хубав пост и снимки, и много вкусен….
    Поздрави и слънчев уикенд!

  • Jenn @LeftoverQueen May 13, 2011 7:49 am

    What gorgeous photos! I would love to go to Turkey one day!

    • Marija May 13, 2011 7:57 am

      Jenn, it’s an amazing country. If you ever go, visit the seaside also. It’s beautiful.

  • Wandering Chopsticks May 13, 2011 8:03 am

    Everything looks so interesting. I wouldn’t like pickle juice either, but now you’ve got me really curious. I’ve never even heard of such a thing! Looking forward to more of your trip.

    BTW, the new blog looks gorgeous. Your photos are looking really fantastic.

    • Marija May 13, 2011 8:08 am

      Hey, thank you so much! We’ve been to Vietnam also, btw :) Loved the food very much! And the sandwiches on the streets were amazing!!!

  • Just Cake Girl May 13, 2011 10:05 am

    Fotke su prekrasne :) nikad nebi rekla da je ovaj predivan pink koktel zapravo od krastavaca :D najviše mi se sviđaju one mesne kuglice umočene u sos mmmmm :)

  • farida May 13, 2011 11:52 am

    What a wonderful blog. Great pictures! Istanbul is an amazing city. Street food is a big culture there. You are lucky you live close to the city, compared to us:))

  • Donna from Yumma Yumma May 13, 2011 8:21 pm

    My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece and Turkey soon. One of our stops will definitely be Istanbul. I can’t wait to try all their yummy beautiful food! Any other tips we should know?

  • Maja May 13, 2011 9:34 pm

    Na put po Aziji!!! Vec sam ljubomorna, a ove slike iz Istambula…prekrasne, prekrasne!!! Koja hrana, koji izbor, sve svjeze. Milina, super si uspjela docarati atmosferu!

  • Snajka May 15, 2011 12:05 pm

    Maja, as someone who’s lived in Belgrade for a while, I’m glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed our Istanbul! Hope you visit again, and let us/me know in advance so I can send you a list of “must-visit” places to eat good stuff :)

  • holiday apartment london May 16, 2011 3:27 am

    In Turkey is one of the most delicious cuisines I’ve ever tried. But you forgot to post the pictures of traditional Turkish baklava and Turkish delight which all sold over the Istanbul. That city is amazing place and I can’t wait to go there again

    • Marija May 16, 2011 4:38 am

      Actually, there is some Turkish delight at the bottom of the post :) And as for baklava, you’ll see a lot of it in the next post :) We’ve been to a famous baklava shop.

  • Andrea May 16, 2011 11:33 am

    Ovo sam čekala od kada si se vratila sa svoje turneje. Zbilja sam uživala u ovom postu, fotke su predivne i sve je tako čarobno. Zavidim ti jako na ovom putovanju i željno išćekujem nastavak.:)

  • Beth Michelle May 18, 2011 5:41 am

    I was in Istanbul last month. Amazing food!! You hit up a lot of the same food I had as well!!

  • Maja May 19, 2011 2:45 am

    Marija, prekrasno!! Nisam ni zamišljala da je tako lijepo, skroz si mi promijenila sliku Istambula!! Oduševio me napitak od orhideje s cimetom, mada okus mogu samo da zamislim :)
    Jedva čekam ostatak priče puta preko Azije!!!

  • Ozkan June 18, 2011 2:55 am

    Beautiful pictures and nice descriptions. Thanks!

  • Turkey’s For Life December 19, 2011 11:17 am

    Great post (I’ve just found your blog via Pinterest, by the way). Looks like you had a right old feast when you were in Istanbul. It’s our favourite city and we love being there purely for all the cheap and tasty street food.

Comments are closed.