The Best Turkish Recipes for Ramazan

Don't Know What To Serve? Here Are All The Most Popular Recipes For 'İftar'

Ramazan is a time when Turkish families get together and spend extended periods eating, talking and socializing with relatives and friends while they enjoy a wide array of delicious foods. Most families go back to their roots during Ramazan and serve traditional dishes passed down through their families for generations. That’s why it’s one of the best times of year to enjoy ​classic Turkish cuisine and as well as ​regional favorites. Here is a list of recipes you can serve at each stage of 'iftar.'

What Is ‘İftar’?

‘İftar’ (eef-TAR’) is the name for the first meal of the day which breaks the period of fasting between sunrise and sunset each day. The menu at the ‘iftar’ table is as important as the way it’s served. Equally important is the shopping, preparation, and suspense each day until the evening call to prayer when cooks, helpers and hungry diners alike finally relax and eat.

What To Expect At The ‘İftar’ Table

There are many customs surrounding the ‘iftar’ meal. When the evening ‘ezan’ (ay-ZAHN’), or call to prayer is heard, hungry diners always begin their meal with a sip of water, a bite of ‘pide’ bread, and a date or two.

Once the fast is broken, it’s time to move on to the soup and light fare resembling classic Turkish breakfast. After a short break, diners continue to tackle the main courses to come. The meal comes to a conclusion with a selection of classic Turkish desserts and Turkish coffee or tea.

  • 01 of 07

    Must-Haves At The ‘İftar’ Table

    Turkish 'iftar' table
    A typical ‘iftar’ meal in Turkey begins with a sip of water, a few dates and olives, a bowl of hot soup and ‘pide’ bread. Photo © Ugurhan-Betin_Getty Images

    There are many foods that are standard at the ‘iftar’ table. Especially the items eaten to break the fast each day.

    Breakfast items that follow can be as a sample of olives and white cheese or more elaborate including many kinds of cheese, deli items like ‘sucuk’ (soo-JOOK’) and ‘pastırma’ (pah-STIR’-mah) and fresh fruit preserves.

    And don’t forget, a glass of water for everyone is a must!

  • 02 of 07

    Ramazan Soup Recipes

    yayla’ çorbası
    Turkish 'yayla çorbası' is made with rice, plain yogurt and mint. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu

    Soup is always served at the beginning of ‘iftar.’ Go for classic recipes like the ones here. red lentil soup

  • 03 of 07

    Ramazan Vegetable & Bean Recipes

    imam bay
    "The Priest Fainted" is a delicious, light vegetarian dish made with eggplants and plenty of onions, garlic and tomato. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu

    Turkish vegetable dishes are usually cooked in olive oil and served cold. Here are some Ramazan favorites.

  • 04 of 07

    Ramazan Main Course Recipes With Meat

    turkish roasted lamb
    'Tandır' is an ancient way of pit-roasting meat from central Asia. In Turkish cuisine, 'tandır' refers to any meat roasted over coals, in the oven or on the stovetop. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu

    Meat can be very expensive in Turkey. Many families who don’t eat much red meat throughout the year splurge during Ramazan to serve at least one main course dish with meat.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Ramazan Side Dish Recipes

    stuffed peppers
    Tiny peppers stuffed with a fragrant rice filling are one of the most common 'dolma,' or stuffed vegetable dishes. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Side dishes rich in carbohydrates are always part of the ‘iftar’ table along with the main course.Here are some of the most popular.

  • 06 of 07

    Dessert Recipes For Ramazan

    Safranl zerde
    'Safranl zerde' is a delicious Turkish pudding-like dessert made with rice, pine nuts and currants and flavored with saffron and rose water. Photo © Elizabeth Taviloglu, 2013

    Ramazan is a time when traditional desserts take the forefront. The best choices are desserts steeped in syrup or milk-based desserts.

  • 07 of 07

    Ramazan Beverage Recipes

    turkish coffee in a silver cup
    Turkish coffee is cooked individuallly and served in delicate cups. Photo © Sakin -

     Along with plenty of water, non-alcoholic beverages of any kind can be served during Ramazan. The meal is always topped off with Turkish coffee or tea.

    • Turkish coffee
    • Turkish tea
    • Ayran, or plain yogurt drink
    • ‘şerbet’ (share-BET’)
    • Beet juice, or ‘şalgam suyu’
    • Lemonade
    • Soft drinks and juice