Turkish mezes are a variety of appetizers or small dishes that are typically served before the main course in Turkish cuisine. They are an essential part of Turkish dining culture, offering a rich and diverse array of flavors.

There are hundreds of mezes accompanying the main courses. In addition to being side dishes for protein groups, these mezes can also constitute high-nutrient main meal options for vegetarians and vegans.

Let's now take a closer look at Turkish mezes.

The tradition of meze in Turkish cuisine has deep historical roots, and it plays a significant role in the social and cultural aspects of dining in Turkey. Here's a brief overview of the history and importance of meze in Turkish cuisine:


Ancient origins: the concept of small dishes served before the main meal dates back to ancient times in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. The Ottoman Empire, which spanned centuries, also influenced the development of meze.

Ottoman influence: during the Ottoman era, meze became an integral part of palace cuisine and was served at grand banquets. The variety of mezes expanded, incorporating ingredients and flavors from different regions of the empire.


  1. Social and cultural aspect: Meze is not just about the food; it is deeply rooted in Turkish social culture. Sharing a selection of mezes is a communal and convivial experience. It encourages conversation, engagement, and a relaxed, unhurried pace of dining.

  2. Diversity of flavors: Turkish mezes showcase the rich diversity of ingredients and culinary techniques across the country. From the Aegean to the Mediterranean, from the Black Sea to the southeast, each region has its own unique meze specialties based on locally available produce and cultural influences.

  3. Enhancing the dining experience: Mezes serve to tantalize the taste buds and prepare the palate for the main course. They offer a burst of flavors, textures, and aromas, making the overall dining experience more enjoyable.

  4. Adaptability: Meze can be adapted for different occasions, from casual family gatherings to formal celebrations. The variety allows for customization based on personal preferences, dietary restrictions, or the availability of seasonal ingredients.

  5. Symbol of hospitality: offering a spread of mezes to guests is a gesture of warmth and hospitality in Turkish culture. It is a way of welcoming visitors and making them feel at home.

In summary, the history and importance of meze in Turkish cuisine are intertwined with centuries of culinary evolution and social customs. Meze represents a celebration of diversity, a reflection of regional influences, and a testament to the shared joy of communal dining in Turkish culture.

Here are some popular Turkish mezes

Hummus (Humus): a classic Middle Eastern dish made from mashed chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.

Muhammara: a red pepper and walnut spread with ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, and pomegranate molasses, giving it a sweet and tangy flavor.

Haydari: a yogurt-based dip with garlic, mint, and sometimes feta cheese, offering a creamy and refreshing taste.

Cacık : yogurt mixed with cucumber, garlic, mint, and olive oil, providing a cool and refreshing accompaniment.

Zeytinyağlı Yaprak Sarma: grape leaves stuffed with a mixture of rice, pine nuts, currants, and various herbs, usually served cold.

Patlıcan Salatası: A salad made with roasted eggplant, red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and olive oil.

Shakshuka: sautéed vegetables, often including eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes, seasoned with herbs and spices.

Fava (Fava Mezesi): a dish made from dried broad beans, olive oil, and lemon juice, often garnished with parsley and served cold.

Mücver: zucchini fritters made with grated zucchini, fresh herbs, green onions, and sometimes feta cheese. These mezes are enjoyed with fresh bread and are often served as part of a "mezze spread," where diners can choose and share multiple small dishes. Turkish mezes contribute to the communal and social aspect of Turkish dining, allowing people to enjoy a variety of flavors together.

Now, let's share the recipe for one of these mezes. I will be sharing more meze recipes with you in the future.

Hummus with pastrami


  • 500 grams of chickpeas (soaked overnight)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup of tahini
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

For topping

  • 3 tablespoons of boiled chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 4 slices of pastirma (pastrami without garlic)

How to cook

  • Cook the soaked chickpeas in water until they become soft.
  • Blend the softened chickpeas with a ladle of boiling water.
  • Add tahini, lemon juice, salt, cumin, salt, garlic, and olive oil to the chickpea puree. Continue blending until smooth.
  • Spread the hummus on a plate and drizzle with the melted butter and red pepper flakes that you have heated together.
  • Sauté the reserved boiled chickpeas in a separate pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and red pepper flakes, then sprinkle them over the hummus.
  • Finally, add the fried pastrami, and serve with crispy bread.