Simit are incredibly delicious bread circles made of yeast dough, sprinkled with sesame. They look similar to bagels. Simit are sold fresh from the early hours of the morning by street vendors in small carts. They are often stacked to artistic towers. Of course, you can also buy Simit in bakeries (and here in Germany, meanwhile even at well-known discounters...). But Simit taste best fresh from the Turkish street vendor or: home-baked...!
However, before I tell you more about Simit and the Turkish breakfast, first some general information about Turkish cuisine.Jump to Recipe
Most people associate it with Turkish cuisine: Döner: a flatbread filled with marinated lamb or chicken grilled on a skewer, salad and lots of garlic sauce. Döner from the "Döner-Man" next door tastes very good, without any doubt!!! But Turkish cuisine has much, much more to offer!
Turkish food culture has a long history. During the Ottoman Empire, the Turks conquered many foreign countries, got to know new dishes and integrated them into their cuisine. From fresh fish to lamb, to numerous types of fruit and vegetables, everything is used for tasty dishes. Meat (especially lamb), vegetables, soups and rice are refined with spices (e.g. cumin, black cumin, chili, paprika, cinnamon) and fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, coriander). This is how the dishes get their typical taste.
In recent years I have been to Turkey several times, as I am involved in a project for street cats (hand in paw).
Every time I was amazed by the friendly people, their hospitality as well the stunning landscape and culture!
At the moment (March 2023) too, I am staying for a few days in the wonderful Limak Atlantis Deluxe Hotel & Resort looking after the many cats. Here are some of them (only a very small selection):
Cats keep you busy - believe me! Thus, not only the cats, but me too are constantly hungry. Accordingly, I eat a lot and try my way through Turkish food. Meanwhile I became a true fan of Turkish cuisine.
These are my three favorite dishes:
Gözleme are very thin - crepe-like - filled pancakes. I like the filling made of spinach and feta cheese best. But you should also try the variants with potato or minced (lamb) meat. Best of all taste the freshly baked Gözleme from the street stall at the weekly market in Belek.
Mercimek Çorbası – lentil soup
Even if you are a “Soup Kaspar” like me, Turkish lentil soup is an absolute MUST! This soup made of red lentils with oriental spices is incomparable! I will never forget my first lentil soup in Turkey after my arrival very late in the evening at the hotel. I was tired and actually not hungry at all. But this excellent soup wake me up and I just wanted more!
To all pasta fans: Manti are small dumplings filled with minced meat. They look like mini ravioli and taste delicious with yoghurt sauce!
At least as recommended are:
Köfte are spicy meatballs. They are grilled and served with salad, vegetables and rice.
Turkish cuisine uses bulgur very often. Bulgur is pressure-steamed wheat that looks similar to Couscous, which we know from North African cuisine. Bulgut is poured with hot water. Then it swells and needs only to be seasoned, e.g. with paprika powder, salt, pepper, little oil, lemon juice and lots of parsley.
Sigara böreği (cigar strudel) are fried filo rolls filled with minced meat or feta and spinach. They are ideal for a small snack in between.
Really tasty are stewed peppers stuffed with rice and/or minced meat. They taste different everywhere, but always good! By the way, not only peppers are filled and stewed, but also vegetable onions, tomatoes and aubergines.
Lahmacun, or "Turkish Pizza," is made from thin flatbread topped with a flavorful layer of ground minced meat, onions, and tomatoes. The pizza is rolled up like a wrap and ready to eat.
The soft flatbread is similar to a boat-shaped pizza. It is usually topped with spinach and sheep's cheese or minced meat. Yummy!
The food tastes particularly good in the simple restaurants (lokantası), which offer various inexpensive dishes for lunch.
Turkish cuisine is also known for its sweet desserts, which should not be missing after the menu. As a self-confessed lover of milk-rice, Sütlüt is of course my number 1 desert. Topped with fresh or dried fruit and/or nuts, Sütlüt cannot be outdone!
Don't miss baklava. This very sweet pastry is made from puff pastry, filled with honey and pistachios covered with sugar syrup. Thus, be aware: Here comes a sugar shock! A small bite guarantees energy for many hours !!!
Lokum (Turkish: lokma: bite) or "Turkish Delight" is a candy based on syrup of gelatinized starch and sugar. The syrup is boiled for several hours, then left to stand until it becomes solid. The mass is cut into pieces and coated with icing sugar or grated coconut so that it no longer sticks to your fingers. Lokum comes in an endless of flavors, due to the addition of lemon, orange and pomegranate juice, as well as rose or orange blossom water. Sometimes chopped nuts, almonds or pistachios are added too.
Dried fruits and nuts
Turkish people love to snack esp. nuts and seeds. That's why you can find everywhere sellers offering nuts and seeds in different flavors. Dried fruits such as figs, dates and apricots are also very popular.
Very popular – not only for breakfast - is the strong black tea (CayCay) which is available everytime.
Especially in summer, I recommend Ayran. The refreshing and cooling drink is made from yoghurt, water and a little salt.
You definitely have to try pomegranate juice . It tastes best freshly squeezed at the market.
My insider tip is Raki, a strong (40-50%) spirit with aniseed flavor made from grapes or raisins.
The Turkish breakfast (kahvalti) mainly consists of (flat) bread or Simit, (sheep) cheese, olives, tomato and cucumber slices. If you like it sweet, you can order jam (e.g. quince and rose jam) or honey (süzme bal) or comb honey (petnk balı).
Turkish people often prefer to have a more opulent breakfast in the form of a "serpme kahvaltı". Many different breakfast components are served in small bowls. Examples of typical components are fresh salads, (flat) bread, especially Simit, sweet and savory pastries such as poğaça (rolls or donuts made from yeast dough, usually filled with sheep's cheese or minced meat).
You will also find fruits, sausage, cheese, olives, soups and egg dishes (e.g. Menemen, a very popular dish made from eggs, tomatoes, peppers and oriental spices). If you're still hungry after such an opulent breakfast, it's your own fault!
Die runden Kringel aus Hefeteig mit dem Loch in der Mitte schauen ähnlich aus, wie Bagels. Simit are one of the most typical pastries in Turkey and Eastern Europe. You can buy them everywhere, especially in the morning.
The main ingredients are flour, yeast, water, salt and sesame. Depending on the recipe, milk, oil and/or butter is added to the dough.
The risen yeast dough is rolled into thin lines, twisted and then formed into rings. The rings are dipped in pekmez (thickened grape juice) and sprinkled with sesame seeds before baking. Sometimes Simit are rather hard and crispy and sometimes fluffy and soft. I like them best if they are crispy outside and soft and fluffy inside. The older they are, the harder they get. But mostly Simit don't get old because they are so delicious!
Simit taste pure just as good as with a hearty (e.g. with tomato and feta cheese) or sweet topping e.g. cream cheese with honey or Nutella.
But now it's your turn! Have fun baking and then: Afiyet olsun (Enjoy your meal)!
For the circles:
- 500 g flour
- 1/2 Dice fresh yeast
- 150 ml water lukewarm
- 100 ml milk (lukewarm)
- 100 ml oil
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. salt
- 100 ml Pekmez syrup (means: grape syrup and is available in Turkish grocery stores)
- 100 ml water
- 150 g seame
For the circles:
- Mix oil, water, milk, sugar, salt and yeast until yeast, salt and sugar are dissolved.
- Gradually add flour until the dough is soft but not sticky.
- Cover the dough and let it rise at a warm place for about 30 minutes.
- Roll the dough into a line and divide it into 10 pieces of approx. 90 g each.
- Divide one piece of dough in two pieces. Roll both pieces into very thin snakes. Twist these together.
- Form the two twisted snakes into a circle.
- Cover the Simit and let them rise again for about 15 minutes on a baking tray.
- Roast the sesame seeds in a pan without fat and set aside.
- Mix the syrup with the water in a deep plate.
- First bathe the simit in the syrup and then roll them in the sesame seeds.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190 degrees (top and bottom heat) for about 20 minutes.
- Cover the simit with a clean tea towel to cool down so that they don't become hard.
- Enjoy immediately
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