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Boreks, Simit, Turkish Breakfast and More – Some of My Favorite Turkish Treats & How to Re-create Them

Living abroad, there are certain Turkish food, especially the Turkish street food, places (and of course, people) that I dearly miss – and I am sure it is the same for many of you, who live outside of your homeland.

The Bosphorus, cruising through Sea of Marmara in ferries, Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia - some of my favorite things in Istanbul

Once settled down at your “new home”, the feeling of  missing replaces itself with “how to recreate these treats in your new home phase”. This is how I started blogging about my homeland, Turkey, and Turkish food, and I am grateful to have a chance to connect and share the many wonderful things my homeland offers with you. I am delighted to see that we can recreate many of our favorite food, with a little substitution or tweak here and there.

Patatesli & peynirli borek; filo pastry rolls with cheese and potato

Take the boreks; one of my favorite parts of Turkish cuisine, the stuffed, filled pastries. Traditionally, we would use the fresh, paper thin sheets of pastry, yufka, widely available at home. Living in England, I cannot get yufka, but the filo pastry sheets you can get at the supermarkets work as a good substitution to make boreks. One thing to bear in mind that they can get dry easily, and that you need to keep them moist with a damp cloth over them, while working. Here is a good demo on handling filo pastry.

Borekci, borek shops in Turkey sell all kinds of freshly made savory pastries with different fillings, one of my favorite stops!

We use different kinds of fillings for our boreks; some with leek and cheese, some with potato, cheese and parsley, onion and ground meat and many more. You can bake these pastries using filo pastry sheets ahead of time, and leftovers can be frozen successfully. My children love these boreks;  if frozen, grease a baking tray and place them on the tray. Then reheat in the oven at 180C/350 F for about 15-20 minutes. They magically appear on the table and are gone very quickly!

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are the ultimate Turkish street food.

Simit, the sesame seeded bread rings are another favorite. With a cup of cay -Turkish tea-, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and cheese by the side, they are the ultimate Turkish breakfast for me . And yes, you can bake your own sesame encrusted, golden rings, simit, easier than you think : )

The wonderful Turkish breakfast with simit, cay, sliced cucumbers and tomatoes, olives, cheese, eggs with Turkish sausage, sucuk, honey and favorite meal of the day!

And, a leisurely Turkish breakfast shared with friends and family by the Bosphorus is simply unbeatable, for me.

Balik & ekmek, Turkish grilled (or lighly fried) fish sandwich is another delicious street food at home. Fisherman prepare the catch of the day in their boats; a simple grill with salad, slices of onion on a fresh loaf of bread; just wonderful.

Fisherman preparing "balik&ekmek" in a traditional boat in Golden Horn, Istanbul

I re-created my version of balik ekmek with a delicious, refreshing piyaz salad with sumac, onion rings, parsley and tomatoes by the side – all I need to do is to I close my eyes and visualize myself to be by the Bosphorus in Istanbul!

Grilled fish sandwich goes so well with the refreshing piyaz salad of onion rings, tomato and parsley with sumac dressing.

Turkish delight, lokum with rose water, pistachios, walnuts, or plain – sade -; all delicious treats.

Fragrant, melt in the mouth Turkish delight is another treat I dearly miss – my children prefer Turkish delight over chocolate! – Then, you find a way to re-create it, and delighted to see that this Turkish delight recipe works really well! It is a wonderful treat to make for your friends and family for special occasions.

Fragrant, home made Turkish Delight, easier than you think.

I hope you can have a go and start re-creating any of your favorite food from your homeland; it is easier than you think, and can be really rewarding too.

Cooking together with participants at the Istanbul Culinary Institute

One way of getting in to re-creating your favorite dishes maybe attending a cookery workshop and see at firsthand how to break down the recipes and follow them. Many of participants attended my cooking classes expressed how pleasantly surprised that they can make the dishes easily and the experience was inspirational. My next Turkish cooking class in Istanbul Culinary Institute will be on Feb 19th 2013.

I am also grateful to be able to connect some wonderful bloggers who blogs about Turkey, Turkish cuisine and its people, with wonderful, inspirational photos and insights. Here are some of them that regularly follow and get a wonderful dose of home:

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey: Claudia’s delicious blog follows the seasonal produce in Turkey with wonderful market photos. Claudia also does great Old City Walks with Istanbul Eats, be sure to check out.

Entrance of Misir Carsisi, Spice Market - Istanbul; a foodie heaven.

Turkey’s for Life, Turkish Travel Blog  and Archers of Okcular  feed us with fabulous photos, stories, news around Turkey, they are a joy to follow! My Turkish Joys is another lovely blog, with wonderful recipes and travel photos from home. Joy is also a brilliant pastry chef and know all things about pastry, so be sure to check her blog out.

Let the children guide you in Antakya; they are always happy to help.

Like many things, it is the human factor, friendly people; a warm smile, hospitality that makes a place special that makes us to go back there again and again. I think that sums up my homeland for me.

A local in Pergamum, selling region's delicious honey and pine nuts - and letting us have a little sample:)

Last but not least, I am also very grateful for your company to share a dose of home with me, following my blog, your comments and feedback; they are very precious, thank you very much. I hope these photos and information inspires you to explore Turkey, have a go at the recipes to treat yourself and family, friends.

A glass of cay by the Bosphorus = happiness 🙂

Afiyet olsun & happy travels to you all,


Sharing a delicious feast in Antakya during my culinary tour in 2009.

If you would like to join us and explore Turkey from a local’s perspective in my next culinary and cultural tour in April 2013 please contact me.


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40 Responses to Boreks, Simit, Turkish Breakfast and More – Some of My Favorite Turkish Treats & How to Re-create Them

  1. Turkey's For Life October 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    Yes well we’re not surprised you miss the Turkish cuisine, Ozlem! 😉 As you said though, you can make substitutes for some of the ingredients you can’t get. We don’t miss too much about British cuisine and the ingredients are easy to get when we do have a craving. We made crumpets once and put them on the blog. No one outside the UK knew what they were. 🙂 Thank you for the lovely mention.

    • Ozlem October 29, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

      Merhaba Julia : )
      Many thanks for stopping by – I must say you guys make some of the best puddings, though as you say, you can easily re-create them – can you get rhubarb? maybe one or two exceptions – As you live, you find a way to re-create, and sometimes coem across with a different version of that dish that may pleasantly surprise you:) I am thankful your wonderful posts -array of sunshine from Fethiye 🙂

  2. BacktoBodrum October 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

    When I lived in the UK I really missed simit, it never occurred to me to try and make them – Very happy to back in the land of “Turkish bagels”

    • Ozlem October 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Merhaba, lovely to get your comment; when I lived in Turkey, I didn’t think of making simit either, as i was surrounded by a wonderful variety of them! Loved your description of land of Turkish bagels 🙂 Glad you are happy to be back, enjoy Bodrum!:)

  3. Phil in the Kitchen October 29, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    You make Turkey sound so wonderful and inviting. Sadly I’ve no chance of getting there – maybe one day. I almost used your recipe to make some Turkish delight – but then I bought some instead. I’m still determined to try it at some point, though. I’m not sure that I prefer it to chocolate, but it’s a very close thing.

    • Ozlem October 30, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

      Thanks Phil, always nice to hear from you. They offer a really good Turkish Delight at Cheam market, so I know what you mean. it is quite satisfying to attempt to make it yourself though, if you fancy sometime. Glad I could offer a glimpse of Turkey, and I hope you make it there one day 🙂

  4. Peter October 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I’ve sampled everything you’ve shown here but I’m awe of the beautiful simit!

    • Ozlem October 30, 2012 at 3:03 pm #

      Simit’s the one for me too- never thought of making in it when I lived in Istanbul, now I greatly enjoy making it -bet your version would be great too 🙂

  5. Alan October 30, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    thanks for the plug – a real compliment to be included with such illustrious company.

    • Ozlem October 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

      it is a huge pleasure to have your company, greatly enjoy your posts!

  6. Saei October 31, 2012 at 12:22 am #

    Hi Ozlem,
    Borek cok severim ve yaparim
    Yeni cok guzeldi 🙂

    Kolay Gelsin

    • Ozlem October 31, 2012 at 10:33 am #

      Merhaba Saei,
      Cok tesekkurler, love borek too 🙂 bets yours are delicious!

  7. Joy (My Turkish Joys) October 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks for the sweet mention Ozlem! It was such a pleasure to meet and cook with you this summer. When I was in the US recently, I missed having Turkish breakfast and being able to buy water just off the street corner. There are some things you can only have here or you have to make it yourself. 🙂

    • Ozlem October 31, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      It is a pleasure to get to know you Joy, so enjoyed meeting you in Istanbul and cooking together 🙂 Hope to see you next time I am in istanbul, perhaps in February?:)

  8. Claudia October 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm #

    I have just read your lovely post, Özlem, and even though I live here in beautiful Istanbul, still loved all your super photos! And then I came to your sweet comments about my blog – you are so kind! I really look forward to the day we can actually meet! there are so many things I would like to talk about with you :). Today I had a Walk and tomorrow another one: how the people love Istanbul and its street food! Thanks for mentioning these walks too …. x

    • Ozlem October 31, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

      Merhaba Claudia:)
      Such a pleasure to get to know you and your blog, a huge inspiration and doze of home for me!! Very much look forward to meeting you, hopefully in February in Istanbul? Great that you keep on the Old city walks in Istanbul, enjoy the sites for all of us 🙂

  9. Alida November 1, 2012 at 7:02 am #

    I wish I could visit Turkey right now! So many colours and happy faces in your posts. It is a beautiful country indeed. Ciao!

    • Ozlem November 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

      Ciao Alida, home is special for everyone I guess, hope you can visit Turkey sometime 🙂 many thanks for stopping by!

  10. Peri's Spice Ladle November 3, 2012 at 3:12 am #

    Oh how wonderful to read about all these Turkish treats, dear Ozlem, my mouth is watering….And my mind is wandering to Istanbul…someday, when I stand near the Bosporus, its going to be a déjà vu because I’ve already seen it through your eyes! Thanks for painting this beautiful picture:) xxPeri.

    • Ozlem November 3, 2012 at 11:50 am #

      Merhaba dear Peri, you always give such lovely comments:):) many thanks, very kind of you. If I can inspire a little, that’s happiness for me – look forward to our stroll in Istanbul! xx Ozlem

  11. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato) November 16, 2012 at 2:23 am #

    What a fun post! I enjoyed looking through all of these photos. And I could definitely eat that Turkish breakfast every day… : )

    • Ozlem November 16, 2012 at 1:41 pm #

      me too, thanks Alison!

  12. Ayse July 15, 2015 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi ozlem, my daughter showed me your website after she found it on Facebook.
    I love it! You show all the very traditional Turkish recipes I’ve been looking for I will try them soon, thank you

    • Ozlem Warren July 15, 2015 at 8:41 pm #

      Merhaba Ayse, many thanks for your kind note, welcome, hosgeldiniz to my blog! I hope you enjoy recreating recipes here, afiyet olsun, Ozlem

  13. Yurdun July 2, 2020 at 7:29 pm #

    Ozlem, I am so glad to have found your website. My mother is Turkish and I have wonderful memories of spending summers there with my Teyze eating and cooking wonderful food. Sadly, both my mother and Teyze have passed away now so I am unable to call them and ask for advice about making Turkish food, so I love your site. I live in the US but I am lucky enough to have good Turkish food close by and of course I cook all the time. I go to London each year so the next time I am there, I will look to take one of your cooking classes. Thank you for the wonderful site.

    • Ozlem Warren July 3, 2020 at 3:16 pm #

      Merhaba dear Yurdun, what a lovely note, thank you so much. How lovely you had those precious memories with your mum and teyze,, we need to hang on to those, very special memories. I am so glad my recipes help and inspire here and I hope it can connect you back home, living abroad, I very much understand you. Do hope we can have a chance to cook together next time you are in London.

      Also just to let you know, Signed copies of my cookery book is 30 % off until end today – July 3rd – and it is delivered promptly worldwide, including the US, if interested, link is here:

      Afiyet Olsun and my best wishes, Ozlem


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