What are the top 5 spices used in Turkey?

Turkish cuisine is the perfect juxtaposition of east meets west— a fusion of Central Asian,Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 1.50.29 PM Caucasian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine.

The spices that are prevalent in their dishes are unique, bold and bursting with flavour.

The top 5 spices used in Istanbul are:

Red Pepper Flakes

If you like your food a little bit spicy, try adding red pepper flakes. Made by drying and crushing red chili peppers, usually cayenne, red pepper flakes adds a perfect addition to a flavourful meal.

Health Benefits:

  • An excellent source of beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A— promotes healthy vision, particularly night vision.
  • A potent antioxidant

urfa bieber
Urfa Biber
Also known as Isot Pepper, Urfa Biber is a dried Turkish chili pepper that often is described by its smoky, raisin-like taste with hints of chocolate and tobacco.  Use this in rice, stews and any dish that you wnt to have a deep, dark flavour with a touch of heat.

Health Benefits:
Peppers are filled with capsaicin, which has a lot of health benefits. It helps to burn calories, helps heartburn, has pain-relieving properties and also helps to curb your appetite.

This is one of the worlds most widely used spice. The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavour of oregano makes the perfect addition to Mediterranean cuisine.

Health Benefits:

  • Used to help respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders.
  • Applied topically, oil of oregano can help skin conditions such as acne and dandruff.
  • Contains fiber, iron, magnese, vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids and more.

In Turkish cuisine, Mint is used fresh and dried in many salad recipes as well as meat, poultry and fish. Since Mint has an extremely strong flavour, use a small amount at first until you get used to it.

Health Benefits:
Promotes digestion and soothes stomach aches and indigestion
The strong aroma of mint can help with nausea and headaches
It is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose throat and lungs
Cumin packs a big punch. It’s nutty, peppery flavour brings the perfect spice to any dish. It is great for fish dishes, curries, couscous and much more.

Health Benefits:

  • Controls diabetes
  • Contains essential minerals. A tablespoon of cumin will give you 6 percent of the recommended daily value of magnesium
  • Because of it’s high antioxidant content, some studies have shown it to play a role in fighting cancer

If you want to get a taste of Istanbul and learn perfect Turkish recipes click here.


Image from: http://www.curiousaroundtheworld.com/the-spice-market-in-istanbul/