Turkish food is gaining popularity rapidly and its definitely not something that can only be enjoyed in Turkey anymore. More and more Turkish restaurants exist around the globe where the most delicious Turkish dishes can be enjoyed. As with any type of cuisine, some of these restaurants definitely don’t provide the authentic Turkish dishes whereas others really work with the traditional recipes and give you a true Turkish meal experience. And thats ok, there something for everyone and also non-authentic Turkish cuisine can be very yummy!
As we have seen in some of the other posts on our blog, there are different ways to prepare some dishes and also different ingredients that can be used. However, there are certain staple ingredients that are considered “typical” for the Turkish cuisine such as, for example, bulgur, yoghurt and lamb. All of these play a significant role in many recipes but especially lamb is considered one of the most iconic ingredients in Turkish dishes. And, Turkish culinary experts often prefer lamb instead of chicken in many dishes, but why is this?
Obviously, culinary experts are looking for the most authentic experience for dishes when it comes to ways of preparing, ingredients and taste when evaluating a certain type of cuisine. Hence, Turkish culinary experts prefer the traditional way of cooking, ingredients that are traditionally being used for those dishes and the resulting authentic taste of these. Remember that we discussed on this blog a couple of months ago the history of Turkish food? Then we explained that some of the most important characteristics of the Turkish cuisine can be found in the fact that the ancestors of today´s Turkish population were nomads. Those nomadic herders were dependent on agriculture and breeding animals, animals that joined them in this nomadic lifestyle obviously. Sheep were especially well-suited to the climate of Turkey and this led to the important role that lamb, mutton and sheep´s milk play in many Turkish dishes. Of course, the fact that these herders had a nomadic lifestyle is already an important clue on why lamb is a much wider used ingredient in traditional Turkish recipes and hence why Turkish culinary experts prefer lamb instead of chicken, because they were, next to goat, beef and mutton, the animals that the nomads traveled with and therefore ate.
In summary, Turkish culinary experts prefer lamb instead of chicken because lamb is one of these traditional ingredients for many Turkish dishes and chicken is more of a modern addition to the Turkish cuisine. Hence, lamb provides a more authentic Turkish experience whereas chicken does not and this is why culinary experts prefer the former. Some examples of well-known lamb dishes are, of course, the traditional lamb kebab, köfte (meatballs made with lamb mixed with bread, egg and some spices) or hünkar beğend (pieces of lamb meat with cheese and eggplant). These are just three examples but the list of delicious authentic Turkish dishes with lamb is endless! Which is your favorite Turkish dish with lamb? We would love to read about it in the comments section!