Higher temperatures mean our eating habits tend to change. We tend to prefer smaller meals during summer and ‘grazing’ is popular – eating little and often. This suits the Turkish style perfectly and works well if you’re enjoying a lazy day by the pool. And, of course, don’t forget to stay hydrated – temperatures in Antalya can easily hit the high 40°Cs.
Some foods and drinks are more appealing than others once the mercury starts to rise – these are some Turkish summer favourites.
Known as Turkey’s non-alcoholic national drink, ayran (eye-ran) is one of the best ways to quench your thirst. A mixture of plain yoghurt, water and salt, it’s widely available in cafés, lokantas, restaurants and shops. Consistency will vary – home-made varieties tend to be thicker than pre-made versions.
Drinking ayran is a great way to replace salt lost through sweating, and it’s a good source of protein and calcium. You’ll find people either love it or hate it – there are few opinions in between. (We think it’s delicious.)
One word of warning. Supermarkets and local shops often have ayran next to the milk on their refrigerator shelves and many an unwary tourist has picked up the wrong carton by mistake. The sea view from your luxury holiday villa might be stunning, but putting ayran in your morning cuppa can really take the edge off it…
Barbecues are popular all year round in Turkey, but they’re worth including because they are so perfectly suited to summer dining. Because they tend to last for several hours, it doesn’t feel like you’re eating a single heavy meal.
You’ll find restaurants that offer a ‘do it yourself’ option, bringing the grill to your table along with your choice of meats and vegetables. Alternatively, if you’d rather relax in your Antalya holiday home after a busy day in the sun, they’re a stress-free option for eating at home.
You’ll often find cacık (ja-juk) included on a mixed meze platter, but this refreshing dish deserves to be singled out. It’s natural yoghurt with chopped cucumber, mint, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic. It makes a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats and is equally delicious as a dip in its own right – served with fresh bread, cherry tomatoes, lettuce leaves and sliced peppers.
You might also have come across haydari (hi-da-ree), which is similar. The main difference is that there’s no cucumber, while some other herbs and spices are mixed in. It has a sourer, saltier taste than cacık.
Fish plays a big part in the Mediterranean diet, and there’s no shortage of delicious, freshly caught varieties in Antalya. Sea bass and sea bream are especially popular and make for a lighter meal than meat. Seasoned and grilled, served with plenty of bread and a crisp salad, you’ll be hard put to find a better summer meal.
If you haven’t already, then try hamsi tava (ham-see tah-vah), or fried anchovy. These small fish, known as European anchovies, are typically tossed in seasoned flour and fried until golden, then served with lemon wedges.
The ideal drink on a summer’s day, kar şerbeti (car share-betty) is an ice slush flavoured with syrup. You’ll typically find it at roadside stands and market cafés, and there are few things more refreshing when you’re feeling the heat.
The ice is usually chipped off a large block and then crushed by hand. Flavours will vary but lemon, cherry and pekmez (peck-mez) are all popular. Pekmez is a molasses-like syrup made from boiled-down fruits; one of the most common varieties is grape, which tastes a little like muscovado sugar.
If you don’t want a big meal, meze (meh-zeh) is ideal. Meze consists of small portions of many different dishes, and if you’re putting together your own while staying in self-catering holiday accommodation in Antalya, you can use whatever you have to hand. Even a bowl of olives counts as meze.
But there are many delicious kinds to try, so it’s worth a visit to the local store or market to buy a selection. Favourite summer meze include purslane with yoghurt and garlic, stuffed vine leaves, marinated red peppers and broccoli salad. Serve with plenty of fresh bread and take your time.
Salads always go down well in summer, and piyaz (pee-yaz) is delicious. Ingredients vary depending on where you are – some versions include cooked white beans, for example – but you’ll always find tomatoes, red onion, parsley, lemon and sumac.
Making your own is easy and means you can adjust it to suit your tastes. It’s often served alongside köfte (kurf-teh), or Turkish meatballs, and lahmacun (lah-ma-jun), think Turkish pizza topped with minced meat and vegetables.