Turkish Food: A Vegetarian’s Delight!

Turkish coffee, Turkish coffee cups

In a country where people love their kebap as much as Turkey, finding vegetarian food was a delight in itself. Treating my taste buds was a welcome bonus. While I expected to be eating a lot of mezze and aubergine, I didn’t find any till the tail end of my trip, when I landed in a small village on the outskirts of Capadoccia. I did however, sample delicious Turkish vegetarian dishes in small towns and villages along the Black Sea coast in the north of the country, and I’ve found myself salivating as I reminisce about the indulgences!

If you’re among the carnivores, we could bid adieu here (and you could take a virtual trip with me to my favorite town in northern Turkey, or explore the quirkiest things about Turkey)… or else you’re going to get very hungry 😉


A treat for my first Turkish vegetarian meal outside of Istanbul, in the quaint Ottoman town of Safranbolu.

Peruhi: Vegetarian Turkish pasta, stuffed with a bit of cheese and mint, and cooked with yoghurt, milk and olive oil.

Turkish food photos, vegetarian Turkish food, Peruhi, Turkish pasta

Ayran: A traditional yoghurt drink in Turkey. Similar to the Indian chaach, and served with almost any kind of food in Turkey.

Ayran drink, Turkey Ayran

Homemade dessert made from yoghurt, with a tinge of spice (can’t find the name among my notes, sigh). The owner at the cafe made this for a family celebration later that evening, and offered it after hearing that I had come all the way from Hindistan! 

Turkish dessert, Turkish food


In the small seaside town of Cide, vegetarian “home food” at a lokanta, which refers to a small eatery in Turkish.

Fasuliye: Whole Peas and legumes cooked together, served with rice and Ayran.

Turkish vegetarian food, Turkish food, Turkish cuisine


In Amasra, a seaside town popular with Turkish holidayers, the famous Turkish (vegetarian) pide!

Turkish pide, vegetarian pide


Vegetarian delights at rest stops on bus journeys.

Gozleme Patate: The closest I could get to a steaming hot aloo parantha in Turkey! Gozlemes are the most commonly available food at rest stops made by public buses plying from one town to another. They are typically stuffed with peynir, which is Turkey’s version of cheese; to me, peynir tasted like raw paneer and seemed unpalatable after the first try! If not available with patate (potato), I preferred a plain gozleme, which when made fresh, tastes savory and delicious.

Turkish gozleme, vegetarian gozleme, turkish vegetarian food


Vegetarian treats at cafes without menus, especially on northern countryside.

Nohut / Kuru fasuliye: Chickpeas / kidney beans (typically canned) served with rice. Forgive my Indian taste buds to be reminded of rajma-chawal and chhole-chawal! It is important to specify that you want this minus the meat, since the Turkish people like to garnish all their food with meat out of habit.

vegetarian food in turkey, turkish food, kuru fasuliye

Cacik: (pronounced jejik), yoghurt churned with cucumber and mint, somewhat like the Indian raita.

Turkish cuisine, cecik, vegetarian food turkey


For the sweet tooth:

Turkish delights: Too sweet even for my sweet tooth, but loved their colorful displays throughout Turkey.

Turkish delight, lokum Turkish delight

The tastiest hazelnut chocolates I’ve ever had, in the hazelnut chocolate factory in Ordu. The northern region is the hazelnut belt of the country.

Turkish chocolates, Turkish desserts, Turkey hazelnut, Ordu chocolate factory

Special Turkish coffee, made by newfound friends in my favorite Turkish town, Ordu.

Turkish coffee, Turkish coffee cups


Vegetarian delights I was too tempted to eat before they could be photographed (!):

Menemen: Turkey’s version of scrambled eggs.

Aubergine, in all forms and shapes, common in Cappadocia and the south.

Simit: Sesame-coated bagels served in carts on the streets of Istanbul.

Borek: Savory Turkish quiche typically stuffed with cheese and spinach.

Borek Turkey, Turkish vegetarian food
Borek. Photo by Paul Keller.


What Turkish vegetarian dishes would you most like to try? 


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  1. manishkmr says:

    Your quality of pictures is such that these dishes are looking delicious even without tasting them. A post which needs to be bookmarked by all vegetarians like us before proceeding to Turkey. Btw what is Ayran ?

    1. Thanks Manish, I really appreciate the compliment to my pictures, especially coming from you! Ayran is something like the Indian chaach or buttermilk, yoghurt churned with a salty taste.

  2. It’s so yummy! Thanks for serving this vegetarian palette in front of me. Great one! 🙂

    1. Glad you enjoyed the virtual indulgence, Gayatri 😉

  3. Beautiful pictures.. I am going to Turkey in April, hope the food is spicy enough for my indian taste buds. I’m quite relieved on reading your blog, I was expecting to eat only kebabs and burgers for 2 weeks of my travel.

    1. I miss Turkish food! I’m sure you’ll love it. Be adventurous, and ask for the dishes in this post even if they aren’t on the menu 🙂

  4. Hi ,
    I came your blog while looking up what others are writing about vegetarian food in turkey.
    Love your blog, pictures and writing!!!
    Proud that an indian person has done and seen so much.
    I think that you epitomize all that we would like to be in many ways. The sense of adventure, entrepreneurship, self-confidence and …. having fun doing what you love.

  5. You would be happy to read that you have made me free from tension about veg food in Turkey. As I read that non-veg is commonly preferred in Turkey and it is too hard to get any veg food court. But now I am feeling so relaxed after reading your article.
    I have planned a Turkey trip itinerary to explore some of the tourist attractions in Turkey. As I am a completely vegetarian so now I am confident about my food during the trip. I just love your informative content and mouthwatering images. Thanks for the post.

  6. Really helpful blog!! I am traveling with my husband and toddler.. both are vegetarian and this blog came as such a relief while doing last minute research. Taking note of all the dishes for them to try !!

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