The Traditional Turkish Breakfast From Yumurta (Eggs) to Kuymak Mıhlama, and Cay (Tea) - Must Tries!
Updated: Jul 23
What gets us out of bed faster than an alarm? Of course the idea of having a Turkish breakfast! We all are well acquainted with the feeling of joy that comes within us as we hear the “clicks” of the chai cups and as the smell of the freshly brewed Turkish coffee starts to entice our taste buds.
Nothing defines the start of a good morning in Turkey better than the perfectly cooked “yumurta” (eggs) with “simit”. But what makes a good morning a great one? A healthy breakfast with a sideline of “Bal Kaymak.”
Food is the easiest way to understand a culture. The famous Patatas tortillas, churros con chocolate and café con leche represent the heartiness of the Spanish cuisine, whereas fried eggs, sausages, with a slice of pudding will give you just a hint of the extravagance of an English breakfast.
In between the contrast and variety of all such cultural breakfasts, you will find Turkish breakfast to be the most satisfying. In Turkey, breakfast is considered as the most important meal as it brings the entire family together.
For Turkish people, breakfast is not only about food, it is rather almost like a sacred activity that the entire family has to do together. Based on the idea of “the more, the merrier” a Turkish breakfast spread is open to any and every one.
The charm of having the first meal of the day with family and friends is what makes it something that everyone looks forward to. We are sure that the uniqueness of the traditional Turkish breakfast will make “Kahvaltı” (Turkish word for breakfast) your favorite word and also your most favorite meal of the day.
Turkish Breakfast at the Black Sea Region
The famous Turkish black sea region is not only home to some of the most breathtaking sites but, it is also a culinary hub to some of the most delicious breakfast treats.
Looking at the breakfast items of this region you will understand that it is neither overly simplistic (like the Mediterranean cuisine) nor is it extremely extravagant (like the South Eastern cuisine).
A healthy balance of nutritional items with a variety of spices and seasoning makes “Karadeniz” breakfast distinctive yet rich in taste. While bread is a common item for breakfast in every Turkish household, the people of Black Sea region consider cornbread as a must have.
“Mıhlama” is another breakfast dish which is specific to the region. Mıhlama is a perfect combination of coarsely grounded cornmeal, cheese and butter or clotted cheese.
Cheese is a necessary item to have in every form of Turkish breakfast. Each region is associated with a special type of cheese, for the Black Sea region it’s the kolutu cheese that is commonly used as a side line with bread and other breakfast items.
Variety is the life of breakfast in the black sea region and that is what makes it so enjoyable. With a twist to the common Turkish way of cooking eggs, “Kaygana” is another popular Karadeniz dish made from eggs, flour, salt and milk and is enriched with ingredients like mushrooms, green onion, and feta cheese.
Turkish Breakfast at the South Eastern Region
Turkish South Eastern region is rich and famous for its distinctive and mouthwatering cuisine and it is a treat for meat lovers. The idea of eating cooked liver as the first meal might surprise you but it is considered as an absolute delight by the locals.
The traditional “Beyran” soup made with sheep’s cheek and fat with garlic will pump up your protein levels and leave you with a taste that will make you want it more.
“Semsek” is another interesting item that you will find. Made with thing dough and topped with grounded meat and seasoning, this fried dish appears as an appetizer but it has the wholesomeness of meat and richness of spices.
What is the point of having a breakfast in the South Eastern region without enjoying the sweetness of “Katmer”? Dedicated cafes and bakeries take pride in serving this sweet item from morning till noon.
Made with puff pastry and filled with the nuttiness of pistachios, this baklava will fill your taste buds with layers of flavors. Your culinary journey will be incomplete without trying out the famous, freshly baked cheese and peanut bread of this region.
Turkish Breakfast at the Mediterranean
The Mediterranean cuisine is famous for carrying on the legacy of traditional Turkish food items. Breakfast in the Mediterranean teaches us the skill of combining the simplistic of items and turning them into delicious and fulfilling dishes. White bread and grain breads are the staple items for the people living in the Mediterranean. Different types of cheese like white cheese, feta cheese, goat cheese along with a wide range of jams are served to be added and used with the bread.
Occasionally, savory soups are eaten as a substitute to bread. Vegetable and olive oil based dishes form an integral part of the Mediterranean styled breakfast in Turkey. Common to the Turkish tradition of having a balanced breakfast consisting of both sweet and savory item, the Mediterranean breakfast spread has its own version of breakfast sweet dish in the form of tahini.
An interesting food combination that is often found in the Mediterranean breakfast menu is having fresh vegetables with cheese and eggs. Green vegetables, tomatoes, cucumber add not only color to the breakfast spread, but they also make it more nutritious and healthy.
Freshly picked fruits and juices are also included in the Mediterranean breakfast diet. The citric orange, sweet bananas and juicy apples are mostly consumed and enjoyed in winters. Whereas for summers, people prefer to start their days by eating refreshing fruits like watermelon, melon and grapes.
How to make Sucuklu Yumurta
Craving for a plate full of perfectly cooked eggs? “Sucuklu Yumurta” is exactly what you are looking for but, it is not your ordinary egg meal. Topped with spiced beef sausages, this dish is packed with flavor. In just a matter of 10 minutes you will be able to cook a meal that is not any less than a high end restaurant dish.
Ideal for breakfast
Preparation time is 5 minutes
Cooking time is 6 minutes
1 cup (150 grams) sucuk (beef sausage) sliced into rings
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon of oil for frying
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Heat oil in a frying pan and add the sucuk to it
Cook the sucuk onboth sides until it becomes slightly tender
Turn the heat of the pan to low
Add eggs to the pan and cook them for 3-4 minutes
Sprinkle salt and pepper according to taste
Serve it warm with fresh bread
How to Cook Kuymak Mıhlama
As the famous breakfast dish of the Turkish Black Sea region, Mıhlama has become widely popular due to its unique taste and easy cooking method. This over the top breakfast item does not require any fancy ingredients and can be cooked quickly from items found in every kitchen.
Ideal for breakfast
Preparation time is 7 minutes
Cooking time is 10 minutes
2 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoon corn meal
2 cups warm water
1 cup (150 grams) cheese (any melting cheese)
Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat
Add the corn meal and let it slowly cook for 1-2 minutes
Add water and stir it in way that is mixed well with the corn meal and butter
Add the grated cheese and let it melt and get mixed with the other ingredients
Importance of “Cay” (Tea) in the Turkish Food Culture
Over the course of 24 hours, a day in Turkey consists of innumerable mention of the word “cay” and uncountable servings of it as well. The western model of life thrives and survives on huge consumption of coffee, whereas the eastern part of the world takes pride in enjoying its historical affiliation with cay (tea).
Turkey, being at the center of these completely different societies has managed to become famous for its strong coffee while maintaining a “blind in love” relationship with cay.
Culturally and historically, tea was not so much important for Turks. However, with the passage of time and the occurrence of some crucial moments in history, cay successfully became one of the most widely consumed hot beverage of the region, making Turkey amongst the top five Tea producing nations.
Your morning is not Turkish enough if you do not start it with two cups of cay. Whether it’s the big cities like Ankara or Istanbul or small villages, life in every part of Turkey begins with the alluring, rhythmic clicking of chai cups.
The main ideology behind Turkish breakfast is to have items which will ensure health benefits. It is for this reason, that cay is considered so necessary in the breakfast routine.
In most parts of the world, commonly Asia and South Asia, cay is served with milk. However, keeping in mind the countless health benefits of tea and the positive impact it has on the immune and digestion system, cay is widely consumed without milk in Turkey.
While the world believes that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, the Turks like to believe that a morning cup of cay will always keep the doctor away.
The taste range of Turkish breakfast spread is increased with a wide range of tea flavors being offered. The delicacy and the importance of the Turkish morning cay affair can be understood as every serving of cay is presented in beautiful curve shaped glass cups with a small, specially designed tea plate underneath it.
If there are two words which can accurately describe the spirit of Turkish breakfast system, it is -hospitality and generosity. The value of the breakfast cay is not undervalued by considering it only as a drink; rather it plays a huge role in the workings of social circles.
Whether it’s inviting a neighbor over or hosting a tired traveler, whether it’s a holiday breakfast with family or a special early meeting with the boss-the Turks take pride in having cay and enjoying it in the company of friends, family and loved ones as the famous Turkish saying tells us:
“Caysiz sohbet, aysiz gok yuzu gibidir.”
(Conversations without tea are like a night sky without the moon).
Turkey as a country bridges the gap between the east and the west, and surprisingly we see this feature to be reflected in every aspect of Turkish culture. Whether its breakfast or cay or a fancy dinner meal, the Turkish food cuisine focuses on bringing everything together.
The richness of vegetables, the sweetness of fruits, the deliciousness of freshly baked breads, the wholesomeness of meat pastries, the spiciness of kebabs-you will find this all and more in the ever growing Turkish food culture.
We find that the Turkish cuisine is not only a continuation of ancient food items; rather it has grown and opened up to adapting both the eastern and western cuisines. But, more importantly, in Turkey food and every day meals are not treated as mere activities to pass the day, rather they are regarded as something special and important for maintaining the structure of every family and the overall society.
With the progression of the modern world, we see that the concept of breakfast as a family affair is being forgotten and it is being replaced with silent mornings and on the go coffee cups.
However, people in Turkey have managed to stay in touch and keep up with their traditions and Kahvalti is still revered in every family and holds a personal value for every individual.
For Turkish people, the start of a good day is not with eggs, cheese and cay, rather the start of a good day is having sufficient food in the company of people you love.
In many countries, family and family gatherings are limited to weddings and holidays only, however in Turkey, you will find it happening every day in the form of Kahvalti.
So, if you ask google what Kahvalti is-it will say breakfast, but if you are looking for an authentic definition of the word, then ask a Turkish and you won’t be surprised when they will simply smile and say, “it’s family time”.
About the Author: Dize Purde