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/

Shopping in Turkey’s Spice Bazaar

800px-Kruiden_in_Egyptische_bazaar_Eminönü_IstanbulThe Spice Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey is the biggest spice market in the city. This bustling marketplace was constructed in the 1660’s and features piles of edible exotics.  With 86 shops, which can be accessed by 6 entrances, The Spice Bazaar is a definite tourist attraction.

5555299887_2ebd136000This bazaar, that has been around for over 350 years, was a marketplace for goods brought from Egypt which sold medicinal herbs, aromatic incenses, fragrant essential oils and much more. Today, it is the best place in Istanbul to purchase spices, nuts, herbal teas, dried fruits, flower seeds, scarce plant roots/peels and traditional Turkish foods such as Turkish Delight and Turkish coffee.

The spice market is well worth a visit. It gives you a true sense of what Istanbul really is. It isn’t onlyScreen Shot 2014-03-20 at 2.05.01 PM about the market, but the streets surrounding it and getting the true feel of how it is to live in Istanbul.

Currently, Bon Vivant is featuring a culinary cruise and tour of the Mediterranean. If you would like a first hand view of the Spice Bazaar, click here.


Have you ever visited the Spice Bazaar? If so, we’d love to hear your experience! Comment below.

Red Pepper & Feta Pseudokeftedes


The Pseusokeftedes or croquettes are one of the many appetizers diners can enjoy at Kourdisto Gourouni Restaurant in Thessaloniki. Our blogger Peter Minaki of Kalofagas.com shares his recipe and culinary adventures in his spotlight article 36 hours in Thessaloniki.

The Pseusokeftedes (Makes 8 patties)

Recipe provided by: Peter Minaki www.Kalofagas.com


  • 4 roasted, peeled, seeded and chopped red peppers
  • ½ cup fresh chives
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • ½ tsp chilli peppers
  • 6 – 8 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup crumpled Feta cheese
  • Sunflower or Vegetable Oil for frying
  • 1 cup strained Greek Yogurt


  1. Place chopped peppers, oregano, basil, chives and baking powder in a large bowl.
  2. Mix and add flour and Feta Cheese, and Mix well.
  3. Form 8 small round patties or croquettes and refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Place oil in large frying pan.
  5. Take croquettes out of refrigerator, cover each patty with flour on both sides then fry.
  6. Remove from heat transfer to paper lined plate to blot excess oil.
  7. Serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Bon Appétit!