İzmir's Local Flavors
Izmir, which is a member of the World Gourmet Cities Network (DELICE), deserves its title of “the capital of Aegean cuisine” to the fullest. Here are the 10 most famous flavors of İzmir.
Kumru, whose history dates back to 150 years ago and was registered as İzmir Kumrusu by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2017, is a sandwich prepared by İzmir tulum cheese, cheddar, tomato, pepper, sausage and salami in a special bread. The bread, which is usually made from chickpea yeast, is named after this sandwich because it resembles a dove bird (Kumru means dove bird in Turkish) thanks to its shape, which is large in the middle and thin on the tip.
Kumrucu Ömür, Kumrucu Şevki, Kumrucu Ateş, and Kumrucu Apo are some of the places where you can taste the most delicious of baked kumru. Historical Alsancak Gevrek Oven is quite famous for its open-faced kumru which is prepared only with cheese and tomatoes.
İzmir’s boyoz, which has a history of almost 500 years, is also a registered trademark since 2017, just like kumru.
It's made by baking round pieces of dough which consist of wheat flour, water, and salt. Boyoz is an indispensable food in İzmir, especially at breakfast. Alsancak Dostlar Bakery is one of the most famous places when it comes to boyoz. Other than the regular plain boyoz, here you can also find boyoz with leek, eggplant, artichoke, cheese, herbs, and even tahini, which you can eat for dessert.
Spicy rectangular meatballs with cumin served in tomato sauce are another of İzmir's most famous flavors. The meatball is served with sliced potatoes, chopped potatoes, and hot peppers that are also cooked in the oven.
Lokma is a small, round, and syrupy friedcake and it’s the most famous dessert of İzmir. It is prepared by pouring sherbet on the pieces of dough fried on the fire. While walking on the streets of İzmir, it is possible to eat this delicious and practical dessert for free in the small stalls set up for charity.
Şevketi bostan is actually a plant, not a meal. This plant, rich in vitamins and minerals, contains abundant magnesium, calcium, and iron. This herb, which was used in the past by alternative medicine for infectious skin diseases, respiratory diseases, digestive problems, and headache treatments, is consumed in İzmir in the form of tea and also prepared as a dish with lamb meat. You can easily find Şevketi Bostan, which can be served by boiling or roasting, in many restaurants in İzmir.
İzmir Tulum Cheese
Tulum is a traditional Turkish goat's milk cheese normally ripened in a goatskin casing, called tulum in Turkish. However, what makes İzmir’s tulum cheese different from the others is that it’s not made in a goatskin casing, but in a tin. This pickled cheese is another food you must definitely try in İzmir.
Asparagus vegetable, which is famous for its aphrodisiac effect, is very common in İzmir cuisine. The roasted asparagus can be seen on a breakfast table, among the appetizers on a tavern table, or in the dinner table of an ordinary house.
Red Mullet Wrapped in Vine Leaves
One of the many fish that decorates tables in İzmir, the pearl of the Aegean, is the red mullet. What makes İzmir's red mullet different from the other regions, is that it’s first put it in a special sauce and then wrapped in vine leaves to be baked in the oven. If you love fish and are looking for different tastes, you should definitely taste this dish.
The Kirde Kebab, whose roots go back to the Ottoman palace cuisine, is made by placing the chopped lamb or beef meat among the pancakes placed on top of each other. With a final touch made with yogurt, butter, and pulp pepper, Kirde Kebab is one of the Aegean dishes that you will never forget.
Made from lamb ribs, sura is a very common dish especially during Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, because the people in İzmir have the habit of using the bones of sacrificial meat for this meal. The ribs, filled with spicy rice, are cooked in a copper pot and then fried in the oven with a special sauce.