In Manchester, Turkish restaurants are pretty hard to suss. Turkish cuisine isn’t like Italian, for example, it’s not defined by one famous ingredient – pasta – and it’s not exactly the first cuisine that comes to the mind of any Mancunian when they think of heading out for a meal. Why this is, we couldn’t say, because Turkish food offers a welcome retreat from the norm and is actually incredibly varied. There are also more Turkish restaurants in Manchester than you might think, particularly in the city centre but you’ll find a gem or two dotted around the suburbs as well. If you’re the type who likes to experiment, try new things and maybe even find a new favourite dish, Turkish cuisine and thus the Turkish restaurants of Manchester are absolutely where you need to be heading.
We mentioned that no one ingredient defines the Turkish kitchen, but that’s by no means to say that one ingredient doesn’t define certain dishes. Turks like their dishes to be centered around one thing – the key to remember is that this thing can vary – and then other ingredients are chosen to complement the main flavour. Call them purists, call them boring, but in any Turkish restaurant in Manchester, lamb will taste like lamb and aubergine like aubergine – we use these as examples because Turkish food makes completely equal use of vegetables and meat. Anyway, this is how the Turks like to cook and the results are fantastic.
So, we know a little about how the Turkish kitchen rolls and we know that in Manchester there are more Turkish restaurants than you might assume, so the question now becomes, what can you expect to find on a Turkish menu? Well, good news: Manchester’s Turkish restaurants do the classics damn well. Mantı is a popular and very traditional option that is essentially small beef or lamb dumplings that are boiled or fried and served with yogurt or butter. As well, baklalı enginar is peeled artichokes dressed in oil and lemon juice and served cold with beans and fresh parsley – perfect for summer – while pide, or Turkish pizza, is fantastic if you’re after something a little heavier. It’s a boat-shaped flatbread that goes big on spinach, minced meat and cheese and you’ll find it at most of Manchester’s Turkish restaurants.
Just as important as the food itself, setting and company are key components of a proper Turkish meal. Eating is a social event, hence meze – essentially Turkish tapas – exists to offer the perfect combination of chatting and nibbling. Meze means lots of small plates scattered around the table and complemented by drinks, and rest assured the Turkish restaurants you’ll find in Manchester offer you the chance to get involved with this as well as everything we described earlier. That, friends, means a Turkish meal is suited to whatever your occasion might be, and it means you can fill yourself right to the brim or choose to leave room for dessert…
Which brings us nicely to end of this little round up. The Turks have quite the sweet tooth and boy oh boy is this obvious when you take a seat at any good Turkish restaurant in Manchester. Baklava is the name of the game when it comes to Turkish desserts. Terrible for your teeth but excellent for just about everything else, these little puppies consist of layers of filo pastry filled with sugar and crushed nuts and doused in honey, syrup or both. Served with a coffee, it’s very possible you’ll end up polishing off several hundred pieces of this moreish little dessert. Of course, you’ll also find Turkish delight, the world-famous treat that will keep the sugar rush flowing way after you’ve left your table.