Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Printer icon
Email icon
Traditional Foods of Trabzon

Zimilange kayganası: Zimilange is Smilax aspera, a thorny vining plant sometimes known as green briar. In the Trabzon region it grows in fields and on roadsides. In some areas it is known as meculcan. In the spring the tender new shoots and leaves are gathered and cooked as above. In addition, boiled green briar shoots and pinto beans are boiled together, then sautéed with onion as zimilange kavurması, or green briar sauté.

Kuzukulağı kayganası: Kuzukulağı is wild sorrel. It is washed and boiled, then mixed with a batter of egg and corn meal, and fried.

Fasulya turşusu (pickled beans) kayganası: This is made in the same way as sorrel kaygana above, but with pickled beans.

Güllüce and chard kaygana: Güllüce is Senecio vulgaris, a wild herb in the daisy family that grows in gardens. It’s also known as kanarya otu, or “canary flower.” The fresh leaves and tender shoots of güllüce are boiled with chard leaves, drained, and mixed with corn meal and egg and fried.

Taze patates yaprağı kayganası: Fresh new potato leaves are gathered, boiled, and prepared as above.

Kuymak – Corn Meal Mush

Various variations on corn meal mush, called kuymak, are made in the Trabzon region, and are very commonly made:

Corn meal kuymak: This is made with sun-dried corn meal, in deep copper pans especially for the purpose. First butter is heated in the pan, then water is added and brought to a boil. When the water boils, the corn meal is added a little at a time and stirred with a wooden spoon or a special stirrer called a çirpi (“whisk, stirrer”). When it thickens, it is left to simmer. When completely cooked, it is emptied into a serving platter and served topped with yogurt of honey. Kuymak from oven-dried corn meal is made in the same way.

Peynirli kuymak: This is made in the same way as corn meal kuymak, above, but with the addition of pieces of kolof cheese after the corn meal. It is served hot, along with yogurt.

Hoşmeri: To make this variety, first cream is poured into the pan and brought to a boil. An equal amount of water is added, followed by the corn meal. It is brought to a boil again and served hot, with yogurt.

Kazkaldıran: Butter is heated in the kuymak pan, and kolof cheese is grated into it. When the cheese melts, eggs are added and stirred in, along with a very small amount of corn meal. It is served hot.

Sırhan kuymağı: In the spring, the tender tops and leaves of nettles are gathered. After washing and boiling, they are added to a mixture of equal parts water and milk in the kuymak pan, along with a little cracked corn. As this is cooking, a little corn meal is whisked in. Mint and garlic are added, and it is served hot.

Tirma: Tirma is made like corn meal kuymak; the difference is that instead of corn meal, wheat flour is used and it is softer. Tirmak is served  hot.

Süt tirması: For süt (milk) tirma, a mixture of milk and water is brought to a boil in the kuymak pan. Then wheat flour is added and the dish is cooked and served as above.

Öğmeçli tirma: This is mad like plain tirma, but before the flour is added, it is first mixed with a bit of water and mixed with the hands to make lumpy dough. This is then put into the kuymak pan, along with a bit more flour.

Hamsi Dishes

Not only in Trabzon but in the entire Central and Eastern Black Sea Region, hamsi is a very popular and much eaten fish, which is made into a variety of dishes. Here are just a few of them:

Hamsi kızartması (fried hamsi): The hamsi is cleaned, then dipped into corn meal and fried in hot oil, and fried on both sides.

Hamsi güveci (hamsi casserole): A layer of cleaned, washed hamsi is arranged in a casserole and topped with potatoes, onions and tomatoes; carrot may be added as well. It is topped with slices of lemon. After the addition of a very little bit of water and butter or vegetable, it is cooked either in the oven or on the stovetop.

Hamsi buğulaması (steamed hamsi): The cleaned and washed hamsi are placed in a shallow pan with a cover, on a bed of sliced onions. A bit of water and oil are added, the top is closed so that the steam will not escape, and the dish is cooked 10 minutes or so.

Hamsili pilav (hamsi pilaf): First a stuffing pilaf is prepared (see recipes elsewhere). Then a layer of cleaned, washed hamsi is placed on the bottom, skin side down. Then the pilaf is added, and this is topped by a layer of hamsi, skin side up, and cooked until the pilaf is done.

Hamsili pide, hamsili tava pidesi and hamsili ekmek (hamsi pide, fried hamsi pide and hamsi bread): These have been described above. First the hamsi is cleaned and deboned. Hamsi bread is sometimes called “hamsi koli.”

Hamsi cooked on a griddle or on terra cotta: Cleaned hamsi are placed on a sac or piece of terra cotta that has been heated over the hearth.

Izgarada hamsi (grilled hamsi): Self-explanatory.

Hamsi tuzlamasi (salted hamsi): Hamsi are cleaned and their heads removed, then packed in layers alternately with coarse salt in a clay or tin container. The container is closed tightly and stored in a cool place. It is opened in the summer, and the hamsi, which have now softened considerably, are eaten raw or cooked. This is a common way of preserving hamsi. Salted hamsi is also used in pide.

Hamsi kuşu (hamsi “birds”): In this version, cleaned and deboned hamsi are pressed together skin side out, then dipped in egg and corn meal, and fried.


Three main types of squash (kabak) are grown in the Trabzon region. “Su kabağı,” literally “water squash,” corresponds to courgette/zucchini, and when fresh, is fried and stuffed. “Kara kabak” (black squash) is a type of winter squash which is not sweet, and cooked with meat and rice. The third, known as “tatlı kabak” (sweet squash), “Of kabağı,” (for the town of Of), or “Kestane kabağı” (chestnut squash) is a variety of the winter squash familiar in the west. Other types are grown as well but they are not common.

Manat: This is made from winter squash. The squash is cut into thick slices and its seeds are removed. The slices and arranged in a pot with some water and cooked/steamed till done. The cooked squash is sweet and eaten with a spoon. Winter squash is also sliced and cooked with sugar for a dessert which is eaten cold. Manat is sometimes made with fresh corn as well, with the corn on the bottom of the pot and the squash layered above. Water is used sparingly in the cooking.

Su kabağı kızartması: Zucchini is cut into thin slices and dipped into corn meal, then fried in oil. It is served topped with yogurt.

Kara kabak yemeği: This is made from “black squash,” which is peeled and sliced, and cooked with rice or bulgur. It is also made with the addition of ground meat. In the old days, ground meat was made at home with a hand grinder. When this dish is made more like a stew, it is known as kabak mancası.

Kabak dolması (stuffed zucchini): Small zucchini are hollowed out and stuffed with a filling made of rice or bulgur and ground meat. They are served hot.

Sütlü kabak: Made from peeled “black squash.” The squash is then cut and cooked in equal parts water and milk. A handful of corn meal is added and when the squash has disintegrated, sugar is added. It is then removed from the heat and served cold.

Other Dishes

These are all dishes specific to the Trabzon region, different from the home and restaurant dishes cooked with modern methods almost everywhere in Turkey.

Yağda yumurta: Eggs cooked in butter, sometimes with the addition of cheese. A very popular food.

Yoğurt doğraması: Hot cornbread cut up into fresh yogurt. It may also be added to ayran, and is then known as ayran doğraması.

Patates yemeği: A dish of potatoes cooked with tomato or pepper paste and/or a piece of meat with the bone in. There are generally two kinds of potatoes. One is a soft floury type called “urus patatesi,” used to make potato starch, also boiled and eaten with cheese and pickles. The other type is smaller and firm, and is known as yemeklik patatesi (cooking potatoes – i.e. to be cooked in a variety of dishes). In the high villages of Trabzon, potatoes are known as yer elması (earth apple) or kartof. This word comes from German, through Russian.

Cimur: This is a mush made from corn bread. The inner part of corn bread is mashed with butter; this is eaten with yogurt.

Gugavak yemeği: “Gugavak” is a type of mushroom which is white on the outside and red on the inside. It must not be confused with the dark capped poisonous mushrooms because they are deadly. However as it takes a lot of knowledge to distinguish edible from poisonous mushrooms, most people nowadays prefer cultured mushrooms.

After the gugavaks are gathered, they are placed in salted water, and later drained. They are sautéed with onions and eggs, or simply fried in butter and eaten hot. This dish is mostly made in the high mountain meadows in the spring.

Zimilange yemeği: This is also called zimilange yığması. The fresh tips of green briar, similar to those of asparagus, are collected in the spring. After washing and chopping, they are boiled, then mixed with fried onion and added to bulgur or rice.

Bakir çömlekte bakla, kara bakla, nohut haşlaması: In the Maçka area, pinto beans (std. Turkish barbunya) are known as bakla, and broad beans (std. Turkish bakla) are known as kara bakla (“black bakla”). The large purple seeded variety is known as cibinlik baklası. In the old days, dried pintos, broad beans or chickpeas (nohut) were cooked slowly in a copper kettle at the edge of the hearth, as other foods were cooking. The pots used for this were special for this purpose and known as “bean pots” (bakır çömlekleri). Their lids had holes in them to allow the steam to escape. Beans grow well in the Trabzon area and are used in a variety of dishes as well as for pickles.

Taze  fasulye yemeği: Green beans are broken into pieces and cooked in a pot over onions sautéed in butter. They may also be cooked with a piece of meat and with olive oil.

Taze fasulye kavurması: Green beans are first boiled, then sautéed in butter and onions.

Kuru fasulye / barbunya  fasulye yemeği: Either white beans or pinto beans are cooked with tomato paste, either with or without meat. Beans soup is the same dish with more water added.

Patates – taze fasulye yemeği, türlü: Onion is sautéed in butter, then meat with the bone in is added and simmered. Green beans are added and cooked  partially, followed by chopped potatoes. When tomatoes and eggplant are added, the dish is called türlü (“mix, variety”).

Lahana – pazı sarması: These are stuffed kale, cabbage and chard leaves. The filling is made from cracked corn and finely chopped meat. The filling may also be made with bulgur or rice.

Üzüm yaprağı sarması: Stuffed vine leaves, made with either fresh or brined leaves. If fresh, the leaves are blanched before stuffing. The filling is made of cracked corn, bulgur or rice mixed with finely chopped meat.

Lahana – pazı yığması: Fresh kale or chard is washed and chopped, and cooked with the addition of cracked corn, pinto beans, butter and onion. It may also include cubed meat.

Fasulya turşusu kavurması: Pickled beans are sautéed in butter with onions. Sometimes boiled potatoes are added as well.

Kara lahana kavurması: Kale is boiled, then mixed with pinto beans that have been boiled separately. In another pot, onions are sautéed in butter, and the bean/kale mixture added and cooked further.

Kara lahana turşusu kavurması: Pickled kale is added to onions sautéed in butter, and the mixture is cooked till the kale is tender.

Pırasa yemeği: Chopped leeks, cooked with bulgur or rice and ground meat or chopped meat.

Patates kavurması: First, boiling potatoes, known as “Russian potatoes” in the region, are boiled, and then mashed. A bit of onion is sautéed in butter, and tomatoes or tomato paste is added, followed by the mashed potatoes, and the mixture is allowed to cook for a few minutes more.

Taze patates yaprağı kavurması: Fresh potato leaves are gathered and boiled. They are then drained and sautéed with butter and onion.

Güllüce-pazı yaprağı kavurması: Fresh güllüce (see above) leaves and shoots, and chard leaves are boiled in water. After draining, they are sautéed with onion and butter.

Pilafs: During the years when wheat was being grown in the Trabzon region, a type of wheat known as “İtalyan buğdayı” (Italian wheat) was boiled, dried and then ground into bulgur at home. In addition to other dishes, this was made into pilaf. It was better with chicken broth. In the fall, quails were hunted, and bulgur pilaf with quail meat was made. Rice pilaf was less common.

« previous page     1    [2]    3     next page »

About Us     Privacy     Site Map     Contact Us