As Middle Eastern flavors keep trending, American consumers continue to learn about Persian (Iranian) and Turkish cuisines, which share similarities in ingredients and dish styles.


Persian-Turkish Comparison

 30% of consumers are interested in Persian cuisine

 38% of consumers are interested in Turkish cuisine

Source: Datassential

 On Turkish Menus:

  • Kofta — spiced meatballs using lamb, beef, pork or chicken
  • Baklava — layered puff pastry, honey and nut dessert
  • Börek — savory phyllo dough pastries with feta cheese and herbs
  • Manti — dumplings stuffed with spiced lamb or other meat
  • Pide — cheese-filled pita flatbread baked in clay or wood ovens
  • Dondurma — super thick, Turkish ice cream made by blending together cream, salep, mastic and sugar
  • Dolma — lamb and rice stuffed grape leaves

 On Persian Menus:

  • Zereshk polo — saffron-spiced chicken with barberry rice
  • Faloodeh — a traditional Iranian cold dessert similar to snow cones using rose water
  • Fesenjan — a sweet and sour duck (or chicken) stew made from pomegranate and ground walnuts from the Gilan Province of Iran
  • Kashke Bademjoon — baked eggplant and onions mixed with herbs, mint and kashk, or sun-dried yogurt
  • Tahdig — crusty rice from the bottom of a ceramic pot topped with stew
  • Ghormeh Sabzi — herb stew using fenugreek, parsley, cilantro, leeks or scallions along with dried limes and optional beans and meats
  • Barbari — a thick flatbread topped with sesame and nigella seeds
  • Bastani Sonnati — golden saffron ice cream with pistachios and rose water

Common Persian and Turkish Ingredients

  • Produce: Apricots, plums, pomegranates
  • Proteins: Lamb and chicken stews and kebabs
  • Spices: Sumac, paprika, saffron, cinnamon and turmeric
  • Yogurt and labneh (yogurt cheese)
  • Grains: Rice
  • Nuts: Walnuts and pistachios

The Kebab

Skewered meats and vegetables, typically grilled over a fire, are found in both Turkish and Persian cuisines.

  • 69% of Gen Z report kebabs appeal to them
  • 41% of baby boomers report kebabs appeal to them
  • 59% of consumers are likely to purchase kebabs from either a grocery store or restaurant
  • 7% of menus include kebabs

Source: Datassential

Concept Closeup: The Gundis

The Gundis restaurant in Chicago celebrates Kurdish cuisine and features some common Turkish foods and flavors like yogurt, sumac and saffron. One authentic dish is the Îsot pepper-rubbed salmon and chicken and vegetable sac tawa, a traditional, spicy Kurdish stir-fry cooked with onion, tomatoes and bell peppers, and served with a side of bulgur or rice. For a twist on a traditional Turkish rice pudding, Executive Chef Juan González adds goat milk for extra tang and serves up Kurdish “coffee,” a naturally decaffeinated brew of pistachio tree seeds (terebinth) and milk. The brunch menu showcases fig and walnut-infused pancakes, soujouk (beef sausage) omelets and spreads with fresh feta cheese, cucumbers and fresh cheese rolls with Kurdish sesame butter.

E&S Implications for Turkish and Persian Cuisine:

  • Charcoal- or wood-fired grills for kebabs and other dishes
  • Rotisserie ovens for slow-roasted lamb, chicken and meats
  • Metal and wood skewers for kebabs
  • Dome, clay or wood ovens for baking Turkish pide and pita breads
  • Large pots and Dutch ovens or other clay pots for stews and crispy rice
  • Mortar and pestle for spice grinding
  • Wire sieve and cheesecloth for straining soups, yogurt and teas
  • Wooden dowel or oklava
  • Cezve or another small kettle made of copper or stainless steel for making Turkish coffee; Turkish coffee cups
  • Two-tiered Turkish tea pot, or çaydanlık
  • Tost makinesi, essentially a panini press, for making tost, or grilled kashar cheese sandwiches, typically eaten for breakfast or in-between meals