11 Weird Turkish Food I Could Not Try! Could You Eat This?

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

When it comes to exploring the fascinating world of Turkish cuisine, there’s an array of flavors and dishes that will leave your taste buds delighted. However, amidst the culinary wonders, certain edibles seem to defy the boundaries of conventional palates.

These totally gross foods in Turkey have an uncanny ability to make your stomach churn and pique your curiosity simultaneously. While I couldn’t bring myself to try them yet, I’ve come to realize that these bizarre delicacies are not only intriguing but are hailed as truly delicious by locals. Brace yourself for a journey into the realm of culinary daring, where the extraordinary meets the delectable.

Turkey Travel Blog_Weird Foods I Could Not Try In Turkey

Can You Eat This Weird Turkish Food?

I was online with my Turkish friend this week, and as we started talking about my upcoming trip to Türkiye, they dropped a bombshell. Apparently, there’s a whole world of “totally gross food” waiting for me to explore.

Now, hold on a minute. I’ve been to Türkiye a few times, and sure, I’ve tasted some interesting dishes along the way. But this…this was different. They rattled off a list of foods that made my stomach churn, and my taste buds recoil.

Yet, they insisted these culinary wonders were not only edible but also downright delicious. Intrigued and slightly apprehensive, I knew I had to investigate these peculiar delicacies myself.

This journey into the world of “totally gross food in Türkiye” was about to begin, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

1. Mumbar Dolması (Stuffed Intestines)

Mumbar Dolması (Stuffed Intestines) on a plate in Türkiye totally weird food

Mumbar dolması, also known as stuffed intestines, is a traditional Turkish dish that might sound intimidating at first, but don’t let that fool you! It’s a delicacy that is enjoyed by many locals.

To make mumbar dolması, sheep or lamb intestines are thoroughly cleaned and stuffed with a flavorful mixture of ground lamb or beef, rice, onions, herbs, and spices. The stuffed intestines are then boiled until tender and served hot.

When you take a bite of mumbar dolması, you’ll find that the combination of the tender and slightly chewy texture of the intestines with the rich and savory filling creates a unique culinary experience. The flavors of the meat, rice, and aromatic spices blend together harmoniously, making each mouthful truly delightful.

2. Şırdan (Stuffed Abomasum)

Şırdan (Stuffed Abomasum) - served in Turkey

Şırdan, also known as stuffed abomasum, is a Turkish dish that uses a unique ingredient and showcases the innate creativity of Turkish cuisine. It might not be for the faint of heart, but curious food enthusiasts should certainly consider experiencing it.

The main ingredient of Şırdan is the abomasum, which is the fourth stomach of a lamb or a young goat. Oh man, just writing that has me gagging. I am told it’s super tasty.

The abomasum is carefully cleaned and then stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, rice, onions, herbs, and spices. It is then boiled until tender and served hot.

When you take a bite of Şırdan, you’ll be greeted with a delightful combination of textures and flavors. The abomasum itself has a chewy yet tender texture, while the filling is rich and fragrant, thanks to the spices and herbs. The experience is like indulging in a classic stuffed meat dish but with an element of surprise and novelty.

Şırdan is a dish that truly showcases the artistry of Turkish cuisine and the skillful use of unconventional ingredients…am I right?

3. Beyin Salatası (Brain Salad)

A plate of Turkish Offal Food Lamb Brain with Salad / Beyin Sogus served with with a side of fresh vegetables.

Beyin Salatası, or Brain Salad, is a dish that might not be for the faint of heart, but it’s a must-try for those seeking unusual culinary experiences. Brains, particularly lamb or beef brains, are the star of this intriguing salad.

To prepare Beyin Salatası, the brains are boiled until tender and then carefully peeled to remove any outer membranes. The brains are then cooled and chopped into small pieces. Along with the brains, the salad typically includes ingredients like tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil. These fresh and vibrant components complement the mild and creamy taste of the brains.

When you take a bite of Beyin Salatası, you’ll be treated to a unique combination of flavors and textures. The brains are silky smooth and almost melt in your mouth, while the other ingredients provide a refreshing crunch and a burst of freshness. The lemon juice adds a zesty tang that balances the dish beautifully.

Beyin Salatası is a dish that showcases the boldness and diversity of Turkish cuisine. 

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4. Tavuk Göğsü (Chicken Breast Pudding)

Try a bowl of Tavuk Göğsü - a Turkish Dessert with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.

When it comes to unique desserts, Tavuk Göğsü, or Chicken Breast Pudding, holds a special place in Turkish cuisine. Despite its name, this delightful treat doesn’t actually taste like chicken.

Tavuk Göğsü is made by simmering chicken breasts in milk until they become incredibly tender. The chicken is then strained and shredded, and the mixture is combined with sugar, rice flour, and sometimes a hint of vanilla. The mixture is further cooked until thickened to a pudding-like consistency.

The resulting dessert is a smooth, creamy, and slightly chewy delight. Its texture is reminiscent of rice pudding, and the subtle sweetness combined with the comforting quality of the milk creates a truly unique taste experience.

Tavuk Göğsü is often served cold, topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon or ground nuts for added flavor and texture. It’s a popular traditional dessert that has been enjoyed in Turkey for centuries, and its unique ingredients and taste make it a must-try when exploring Turkish culinary delights.

5. Kokoreç (Grilled Lamb Intestines)

Istanbul street food - Turkish Street Food Kokorec made with sheep bowel

Kokoreç is a mouth-watering street food that has gained a loyal following in Turkey. It might appear unusual to those unfamiliar with it, but I am told that this dish is truly worth a try.

Kokoreç is made from lamb or goat intestines, specifically the ones wrapped around the sweetbreads, which are the thymus or pancreas glands. The intestines and sweetbreads are cleaned thoroughly, then seasoned with salt, pepper, and other spices, and finally grilled vertically on a skewer.

When you take your first bite of Kokoreç, you’ll be greeted with a medley of flavors and textures. The outside is crispy and charred, offering a delightful contrast to the tender and juicy interior. The intense flavors from the spices combine with the rich taste of the sweetbreads and the earthiness of the intestines, resulting in a truly unique and satisfying experience.

Kokoreç is typically served in a half-baguette or flatbread, accompanied by various condiments such as tomatoes, onions, parsley, and spices like sumac or oregano. The combination of textures, the aroma of the grilled meat, and the explosion of flavors is bound to leave you satisfied and craving for more.

6. İşkembe Çorbası (Tripe Soup)

A bowl of iskembe corbasi soup with bread from Turkey.

İşkembe çorbası, or tripe soup, is a hearty and comforting dish beloved by many in Turkey. Tripe is the main ingredient in this Turkish classic, derived from the beef or lamb’s stomach lining.

Now, this is one that my husband did try – he loves tripe.

To prepare this nourishing soup, the tripe is thoroughly cleaned and boiled until tender. It is then chopped into small pieces and simmered with garlic, vinegar, and sometimes with tomato paste or yogurt for added flavor. The result is a rich and velvety soup with a distinct tanginess.

When you take a spoonful of İşkembe çorbası, you’ll immediately notice its smooth and slightly gelatinous texture, which gives it a comforting and satisfying mouthfeel. The flavors are robust, with hints of garlic and vinegar coming to the forefront, adding a tangy kick to the savory broth.

Although tripe may be an acquired taste for some, İşkembe çorbası is considered a classic hangover cure and delightful comfort food for many Turks.

7. Ciğer Kebabı (Liver Kebab)

Plates of Ciğer Kebabı (Liver Kebab) in Turkey

If you’re a fan of liver, Ciğer Kebabı is a dish you cannot miss during your culinary adventures in Turkey. This delectable kebab showcases the beloved taste of liver in all its glory.

To prepare Ciğer Kebabı, the liver is cut into small, bite-sized pieces and marinated with a blend of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and various spices such as cumin or paprika. After marinating, the liver is grilled to perfection, resulting in tender and flavorful bites.

The taste and texture of Ciğer Kebabı are what truly make it a standout dish. The liver is cooked just right, maintaining its tenderness and a slight pink hue in the center. With each bite, you’ll experience an explosion of flavors, from the earthiness of the liver itself to the zing of lemon and the subtle heat of spices.

The richness of the liver combined with the smoky char from the grill results in a unique taste that liver enthusiasts find absolutely irresistible. Served alongside fresh bread, a squeeze of lemon, and perhaps some sumac or parsley.

8. Paça Çorbası (Trotter Soup)

A bowl of Kelle Paça Çorbası soup with a wooden spoon on a tiled floor, inspired by Turkey.

Paça çorbası, commonly known as trotter soup, is a traditional Turkish dish that utilizes the hoof and trotters of lamb or beef. Although it sounds unconventional, this soup has been appreciated for its rich flavor and nourishing qualities for centuries.

To prepare paça çorbası, the hooves and trotters are thoroughly cleaned and simmered for several hours, often overnight, with various vegetables and herbs. The cooking process extracts the collagen and gelatin from the bones, resulting in a thick and hearty soup.

When you sip paça çorbası, you’ll be greeted with a velvety texture and a robust taste that is both satisfying and nourishing. The gelatin gives the soup a slightly sticky mouthfeel, while the flavors from the bones and vegetables meld together to create a deeply comforting broth.

Paça çorbası is traditionally enjoyed as a hearty breakfast or as a late-night snack after a night of revelry. It is often served with freshly squeezed lemon juice and a sprinkle of ground red pepper for an extra kick.

9. Billur Kebabı (Ram Testicle Kebab)

If you’re a fan of kebabs and have an adventurous palate, you might want to give Billur Kebabı a shot. Billur Kebabı, also known as Ram Testicle Kebab, is a unique dish that might raise some eyebrows, but don’t be too quick to judge!

This intriguing delicacy consists of ram testicles that are carefully cleaned, marinated in a mixture of spices, and then grilled to perfection. The result is a tender and succulent meat with a slightly gamey flavor.

When you dig into a plate of Billur Kebabı, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the tender texture and the mix of flavors. The meat itself is pretty mild and takes on the flavors of the marinade and the grill, creating a captivating taste experience that is unlike anything else.

While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Billur Kebabı is considered a delicacy by those who appreciate its unique flavors. So, if you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something truly different, give this weird kebab a go! Who knows, you might discover a newfound love for ram testicles.

10. Balık Ekmek (Fish Sandwich)

In Istanbul, a man is skillfully grilling Doner Kebab.

Balık Ekmek, which translates to “fish bread,” is undoubtedly one of the most famous street foods in Turkey, particularly along the coastal regions. And yay for me- I have tried this one a few times.

This simple yet flavorful dish showcases the beauty of fresh seafood, and it’s a must-try for any food lover with a penchant for fish.

Balık Ekmek typically consists of a grilled or fried fish fillet, such as mackerel or sea bass, sandwiched between a traditional bread called “pide.” The bread is usually lightly toasted and then generously filled with the fish along with fresh lettuce, onions, and sometimes a squeeze of lemon or a drizzle of pomegranate sauce.

When you take your first bite into a Balık Ekmek, you’ll be captivated by the harmony of flavors. The delicate taste of the fish, combined with the crunch of the fresh vegetables and the tanginess of lemon or the slightly sweet pomegranate sauce, creates a symphony of flavors that is both satisfying and addictive.

As you stroll along Turkey’s bustling coastal streets, look for vendors selling Balık Ekmek from their small boats or stalls. In Istanbul, I bought this down near Galata Bridge.

These iconic fish sandwiches are not only delicious but also offer a unique and authentic experience of Turkish street food culture.

11. Boza

A glass of creamy beverage topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon, served on a patterned tablecloth - Boza or Bosa, traditional Turkish dessert

Boza is a unique and intriguing traditional Turkish drink that has been enjoyed for centuries. It might not be for everyone, but for those seeking new taste experiences and cultural exploration, Boza holds a special place – my youngest son tried this in Bulgaria, but the smell put me off.

Boza is made from fermented grains, typically millet or wheat, along with sugar and water. The mixture is left to ferment for several days, resulting in a slightly sweet and tangy beverage with a thick, smooth consistency.

When you take your first sip of Boza, I am told that it is a velvety smooth texture that coats your palate. Its taste is reminiscent of a mildly tangy yogurt drink but with a distinct fermented grain flavor. The sweetness balances the tanginess, creating a unique flavor profile that is both refreshing and comforting.

Traditionally, Boza is served chilled in small glasses and topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon or roasted chickpeas for added flavor and texture. It is often enjoyed during the winter months as a warming drink that invigorates both body and soul.

What I Learnt About Weird Turkish Food

It’s important to remember that what might be considered “gross” is highly subjective and culturally relative. Intriguing and diverse, Turkish cuisine is a delightful journey waiting to be explored. While some of these weird Turkish foods may initially raise an eyebrow, they are deeply rooted in Turkish culture, and unlike me, maybe you should try a few.

Next week, when I am back in Türkiye, I am going to try to embrace the unfamiliar and open myself to a world of taste sensations that will expand my culinary horizons. Stay tuned to see if I do.

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