Pasta, Biscuit and Bread Culture in Turkey

24 May 201714 min reading

Turkish people who like to try new tastes and combine them with traditional tastes reflect this in pasta, bread, desserts, confectionery and biscuit consumption as well. Flour, dough, additives used in bread making and baking styles show difference. Also, various differences such as tools, equipment used in bread making and cereals used in flour making show the regional diversity. Turkish people represent diversity in the preference of desserts, candy and biscuit show great interest to the different biscuit products.


Turkish cuisine has opened its gates to the new tastes created by the changing world and some industrial products as well as carrying a traditional cuisine culture to this day. Turkish people who like trying new tastes and combine them with traditional tastes, reflect this in pasta, bread, desserts, confectionery and biscuit consumption as well. Turkey holds the world record in annual bread consumption per capita and preserve both traditionally baked bread types and enjoy consuming them as well as increasing interest is shown to the whole grain, packaged, industrial bread in accordance with the changing culture of its age. Similarly, the noodle which created a solid position in the cuisine for itself over the years now inclines towards the packaged pasta due to being more practical. Noodle which has newly entered into Turkish market has become popular among young people. This can be an indicator of an interest for discovering new tastes. Turkish people who reflect variety in their preference of desserts, candies and biscuits preserve their traditional desserts at homes, restaurants and cafes and on the other hand show great interest to different biscuit products.

PASTA CULTURE IN TURKEY Pasta has a very long standing background in Turkey. Although industrial pasta production is traced back to the first years of Republic, consumption of noodle which is made at home is known to be traceable even more ancient history. In Turkey where all kinds of pasta could be found today, production type and methods also show difference in the same rate. Turkish cuisine having a great variety of tastes and preference of different tastes in almost all geographical regions has a strong effect on this. For example, consumption of pasta in the Marmara Region which is the most cosmopolitan region of Turkey also shows a large difference in pasta culture, particularly in out-of-home areas. Imported or domestic almost all kinds of pasta is likely to be found in İstanbul and neighbor regions pasta presentations prepared with the world’s most famous sauces are especially popular in and around Istanbul.

It is known that in Aegean and Mediterranean Regions pasta consumption occurs mostly via vegetable sauces. Such regions where various vegetable and herbs can be found abundantly due to geographical reasons, the palate is inclined towards blending all kinds of dishes with products such as olive oil, thyme, cheese indigenous to such region, tomato, pepper and garlic. Although the preferences are inclined towards bulgur in East and Southeast Anatolia it can be seen that the pasta is preferred with dense tomato sauces and hot sauces.

It can be seen that in Turkey general pasta consumption is being carried out over noodles. It can be seen that the local dishes are flavored with noodles and noodle is the main ingredient for different types of dishes. Pasta with walnut which is especially famous around Bolu is an example to this. Noodles which are prepared with walnut and hard cheese is grated on it, added butter as a last step and consumed popularly. Even though being a consumption culture which has spread throughout Turkey in time, using noodles in soup is frequently preferred in Black Sea cuisine frequently. Noodle soup which is offered together with different foods such as yoghurt, meatballs, green lentil, beans, and chickpeas is served mostly in the form of soup which is called “tutmaç soup” by adding peppermint on it and it is quite famous in Turkish cuisine.

As it is mentioned above, pasta started to be produced industrially in Turkey at the beginning of 20th century; pasta industry showed a significant growth. Turkey which reached to high amount in pasta import and export in recent years particularly could not reach to the same level in consumption. The reason of not reaching to desired levels in pasta production is attributed to various reasons. One of them is that the sauce culture is not yet developed enough in Turkish people. This is very clear; the main element in the presentation of pasta as a main dish is the sauce. Pasta sauce culture which is settled in various countries of the world is generally diversified over tomato paste and yoghurt. Along with this pasta cooking is not settled correctly in Turkish society yet. The pasta which is not cooked in due form loses its taste and nutritional values and cannot find the value it deserves.

The second reason of why pasta culture is not settled in Turkish society is the misinformation regarding the pasta. One of the most distinct one is the belief that pasta is a food which is fattening and with not so high nutritional values. Most people in society do not know the ingredients of pasta precisely and think that products such as rice, bread, and bulgur are healthier.

Of course changing lifestyle in recent years has effected the pasta consumption of Turkish people. According to the report dated 2013 of International Pasta Organization (IPO) the yearly consumption of pasta per capita in 2013 has reached to 6,6 kg in Turkish society for whom the pasta consumption is increasing gradually. Increase in the production variety, inclination of the working population towards packaged, easy to cook and nutritious foods have become inevitable.

BREAD CULTURE IN TURKEY Turkey plays the role of a bridge between the cultures and this situation has caused a diversification in diet culture as well as in lots of other areas. Bread which is the main nutrient of people is one of the most prominent parts in cuisine culture with different types. Traditionally considered, flour, dough, and additives used in bread making and baking styles show difference in Turkey. Also various differences such as tools and equipment used in bread making and the cereals used in the bread making show the regional diversity.

It is not enough to define the place of the bread in Turkish culture as main nutrient. Bread is considered holy in Turkish culture. Due to this reason, bread is known to be used for swearing an oath in Turkish language, used in some idioms and various sayings. It is possible to discuss the usage of bread in Turkish cuisine which shows great diversity under different groups. We can separate the bread into four groups by flour used in production such as barley, rye, wheat and maize and four groups again by baking method in oven, in ash, in embers and on sheet metal.

Traditionally, when we have a look at the bread types prepared at our homes, it can be seen that these breads are baked in ovens called tandoori. Salt, cumin, black cumin, fennel, saffron could be added to tandoori bread on special days and on holidays depending on the content of tandoori bread. In addition to this it can be seen that the baked bread could be prepared with or without fermentation. It can also be seen that tandoori bread is used for bread with pepper and bread consumed with other foods such as spreadable and preferred also in the making of “lahmacun” which is very famous.

One of the most widely consumed bread types is flatbread. This type of bread which is baked on sheet metal is baked in almost all of the Anatolian regions and the method of preparing, however, could change. Flatbread which is usually baked from fermented dough and prepared in circles is baked on sheet metal or in tandoori and its thickness or thin according to the use. Its consumption could be diversified depending on the regional palates by spreading butter on it or placing cheese in between. Especially in the southeast region in Turkey, flatbread prepared from fermented dough and baked on sheet metal is consumed popularly. In Central Anatolia flatbread prepared using fermented dough and baked on sheet in smaller sizes are preferred. These types of flatbread are usually baked by using wheat flour but depending on the cereals raised in the region, the main ingredient may change. For example in Black Sea region usually corn flour and wheat flour is mixed or maize flatbread is baked.

Another popularly baked bread type is pastry bread. Pastry is prepared by using non-fermented dough is spread thin via a rolling pin and baked on sheet. Pastry is one of the most settled foods in traditional Turkish cuisine. It can be said that pasty represents a culture which could be dated back to the nomads from Central Asia. Pastry bread is baked on sheet since it is easy to carry and use but it could be baked on wood fire in some forest areas and on the fire lit by using the stalks of wheat on steppes. These breads which are consumed by being wetted again and again have created a lot of facilitation for societies who live as nomads. In the cuisine culture of the Yoruks (Turkish Nomads) who still preserve their nomadic properties it is still being consumed as the main nutrient. Filo pastry bread could be prepared by putting vegetables, minced meat, onion and various fillings in different forms and so it can be used in making of some pastry types.

Another type of bread which is consumed widely in the cities especially when compared to flatbread and pastry is the loaf of bread. In most regions this type of bread is named as “shop bread”. Loaf of bread prepared with fermented dough is baked in almost all the bakers which are located in almost all the neighborhoods Loaf of bread has also had a place in different cultures and taken some features from these cultures. An example to this is adding potato to the dough during the baking of loaf bread in some cities. Bread with potato is baked as a result. Turks migrated from Balkans add potato to give flavor to the loaf bread prepared with fermented dough and whole meal flour. The bread which is prepared with fermented dough and which has gained fame as “Vakfıkebir bread” which is consumed a lot in Black Sea Region is sometimes flavored with sesame and poppy. A dessert type of this bread is prepared on special days by adding materials such as nuts, raisins, walnut. Pita which is prepared by keeping the fermented dough thinner and added minced meat, sausage, eggs and pastrami especially in Central Anatolia Region is consumed in almost all the regions of the country.

Another type of bread which is preferred a lot in Turkish cuisine is corn bread. Due to the geographical reasons, in Black Sea Region growing corn is preferred instead of growing wheat. Corn which became one of the most important products of the region is used as a main ingredient in the making of a large number of dishes. Due to this reason corn bread is widely consumed in Black Sea region. People of Black Sea Region add vegetables such as orach, spinach, leek and nettle which are indigenous to the region.

DESSERTS, CONFECTIONERY AND BISCUITS CULTURE IN TURKEY Consumption of desserts in Turkish cuisine is so varied that it requires a separate research article. However the consumption of desserts could be gathered under certain titles. The first one is the desserts with sorbet which are consumed in all the regions of our country. Desserts with sorbet which has a lot of types and among them “baklava”, “kadayıf” are prepared by using a thin dough similar to pastry and made by mixing flour, water and salt. These pastries are added materials such as nuts, peanuts, walnuts between their layers and flavored with a sorbet prepared additionally softens them and then they are baked. Another dessert prepared with pastry is “güllaç”. Pastries to be used for güllaç again are flavored by using walnut, nut or peanut or flavored with rose-water and pomegranate as desired and then dampened with milk. Güllaç pastry used to be prepared mainly at homes but nowadays it is industrialized and sold in packages in various businesses. Güllaç has almost become identical with Ramadan. It is known that güllaç consumption is higher in Ramadan when compared to other months. Another desert with sorbet is the dumplings dessert. Dumplings have a place in a lot of cultures and prepared by frying the little balls of dough made from flour, water and yeast.

In some desserts, rice and rice flour is commonly used in Turkish cuisine. These desserts which are consumed popularly are baked using milk. “sütlaç”, “muhallebi”, “kazandibi” and “keşkül” are the examples to this. These desserts baked mixing rice flour, water and sugar are the traditional desserts of Turkish cuisine. Cooked rice is also added along with rice flour into the sütlaç. There are some desserts which are prepared by using semolina. “revani”, semolina dessert with milk, “Kemalpaşa” and “şekerpare” could be shown as examples to such desserts which are prepared by cooking the semolina. Also “halva” is made by semolina. “halva” which is prepared by mixing flour, semolina, oil, sugar and milk is a traditional dessert not only for Turkish cuisine but for Balkan and Middle East cuisines as well.

Another part of the dessert culture of Turkish people is the cakes, cookies and sweet rolls which are based on flour and dough. These desserts which are prepared with flour, milk, sugar, egg as well as desserts with milk and sorbet are frequently sold in bakeries and consumed by Turkish people for years. In the preparation stage of such desserts, the materials put into them also vary.

It is thought that Turkish people are met with chocolate in the period of Ottomans. However the first chocolate factory and products containing chocolate started to be produced in the first years of the Republic. Today chocolate production is very common but consumption is not as developed as the other countries - especially European countries. One of the strongest reasons of this is that these traditional desserts have still been favored dominantly and preferred mostly. The materials widely used in cake, cookies and pastries are nut, walnut, peanut and various fruits. It can be seen that dried nuts especially walnut and peanuts are used as toppings on desserts with milk and sorbet and fruits are used in cakes and cookies mostly. The biggest reason for this is that the soil of Turkey is located on a rich geographical area for growing all kinds of fruits and nuts.

It can be seen that confectionaries have a traditional place in the Turkish cuisine. It is a common tradition to offer some confectionaries and desserts on holidays, religious days, and ceremonies such as engagement or wedding. Generally chestnut sweet, almond sweets, rock candy, Turkish delight, sweet sausage and ring candy is offered in such rituals. In time chocolate added among such treats. These confectionaries which date back to Ottoman period and which are still being consumed are both included in the industrial production and produced specially by some special bakeries which make boutique production.

In biscuit consumption it can be seen that lots of varieties have now taken their places on the shelves when compared to past. According to the Bakery Sector Report dated June 2010 published by Central Anatolia Exporters’ Union, the per capita biscuit consumption in Turkey changes between3,8 and 4 kg. When this rate is compared to Europe with 10-15 kg per capita, it is quite low but it continues to increase. There are some biscuit types which are counted as classics by the Turkish people. The most popular biscuits are chocolate filled biscuits, biscuits with cream and biscuits with chocolate chips. These biscuits are seen as snacks today especially by the youth and consumed in the homes as treats. Along with this it can be seen that the biscuits are used in the making of lots of desserts with milk. Consumption of beverages such as tea or coffee in public causes biscuits with chocolate, cream, nut or walnut to be offered as treats together with such beverages.

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