5 Turkish Specialties That Are Best Enjoyed in Antalya

When I emigrated and went to Germany in 2012, what did I miss most? Right, mama’s food – and above all the Turkish specialties from my native Antalya. I can’t say I was unhappy with the foreign foods I found in Germany. Now that I’ve taken a job as a BLUE Guide at the TUI BLUE Palm Garden in Turkey, I miss the wonderful treats of German bakeries and the aroma of fresh morning coffee. Butter pretzels are and remain one of my absolute favourites. I also miss the delicious gingerbread at Christmas time. However, the special tastes of my childhood – as is probably true for many of you – have a special place in my heart.

You’ll now learn about five Turkish specialties from the riviera, and especially from Antalya!

1. Pumpkin Dessert with Tahini and Walnuts / Tahinli Cevizli Kabak Tatlısı

This dessert is well-known throughout Turkey, but only in Antalya is it eaten with tahini and walnuts. Tahini is a slightly melty sesame paste that spreads smoothly in your mouth. The walnuts compensate for the lack of sugar in the bitter paste. In contrast to the sugary baklava, it’s the ultimate choice for a low-sugar dessert. It’s best to enjoy the healthy combination of pumpkin, tahini, and walnuts with a delicious cup of Turkish tea. What a delight!

tahini and walnuts
Pumpkin dessert with tahini and walnut

2. Sesame Puree / Hibeş

Hibes is an appetiser prepared from garlic, cumin, lemon, and tahini. This tasty mezze (a small Turkish dish) from Antalya can be easily prepared by anyone at home. For example, you can find a recipe in German here. I like to eat it with kebab and fish, but hibes also goes well in a raki table. The raki table is a classic appetiser buffet full of Turkish specialties.  It’s cultural heritage and a ritual at the same time, with the Turkish national drink, raki, in the centre – raki and a cordial conversation in a circle of good friends!

hibes sesame puree
Sesame puree

3. Jam Made from Watermelon Rinds / Karpuz Kabuğu Reçeli

Oops, what’s that now? The rind of a watermelon isn’t a Turkish specialty, is it? No judgment please, because this unusual jam tastes really good; the taste of the jam has a special aroma and is sweet, but the rigid rinds leave an acidic taste. It’s especially good for breakfast with fresh coffee and pretzels or simit. Simit is the well-known ring-shaped pastry with sesame seeds on the crust, which you’ve certainly seen before at a Turkish bakery. Both can be found – fresh out of the oven, of course – on the breakfast buffet at the TUI BLUE Palm Garden.

jam watermelon rind
Jam made from watermelon rinds

If you would like to try this award-winning jam yourself without flying straight to Antalya, you’ll find an English-language recipe here.

4. Ground Beef Skewer with Bean Salad / Şiş Köfte ve Antalya Piyazı

I am pleased to finally promote this Turkish specialty from my hometown. Instead of the usual green Mediterranean salad, the ground beef skewers are served in Antalya with a bean salad called piyaz. This salad consists of beans, onions, and a specially prepared sauce with sesame paste, eggs, and various spices. You can find it either at the TUI BLUE or in the surrounding area, mostly in small, traditional restaurants.

5. Burnt Ice Cream / Yanık Dondurma

My favourite activity as a child? Going with the whole family to eat ice cream! Especially after a hot day or an afternoon at the beach, it was the perfect way to end the day: taking in the view of the sea with a cup of burnt ice cream. Over the years, many of which I spent abroad, I’ve had the opportunity to try different kinds of ice cream all over the world. One thing I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty: None of them tasted as good as the burnt ice cream from Antalya!

burnt ice cream
Burnt ice cream

But why is it called “burnt” ice cream? This is because the traditional Turkish ice cream is made with goat’s milk, which is slightly burned. This refined method gives the ice cream its special smell and taste! If you want to try this Turkish specialty yourself, you have the opportunity to do so in many cafés in Antalya. By the way, the ice cream doesn’t taste like goat’s milk at all – don’t worry!

Cover photo © fatihlikoğlu – fotolia.com

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