By Justin Mays:
Walking along Turkish streets, you will inevitably come across food carts, make sure to take a peek at the vendor’s wares. Many street foods are ubiquitous year-round, like the simit, while some foods come and go with the seasons or are better suited for the winter months.
One of the most popular wintertime drinks, boza is a fermented beverage made from boiled hulled millet which after being processed has sugar and water added to it. Fermented, it has a sweet and tangy taste and is topped with roasted chickpeas and cinnamon. You will hear the calls for “Booozaaaa” in more traditional neighborhoods on cold winter nights, otherwise, head to the historical Vefa Bozacisi in Fatih to check out this favorite winter drink.
Known as kestane kebab, these carts serve up hot roasted chestnuts in paper bags sold by the gram. Turkey is home to many chestnut trees, making these nuts a favorite local snack, especially along the famous Istiklal Street in Taksim.
Like the jacket potato at British winter markets, the Kumpir is an extra-large roasted potato. This is where the similarities end. The kumpir is in a league of its own. First mashed up with butter and cheese the options for toppings are endless. Choose from olives, Russian salad, mushrooms, hot dogs, corn, and more when you visit the most famous kumpir area in Ortakoy in Istanbul.
Chickpeas and Rice
Turks love rice and there are many delicious recipes with rice as the main ingredient. This version is found stacked up with layers of chickpeas and buttery Turkish rice. Sometimes shredded chicken is added to the dish and there is always some black pepper and hot pickled green peppers to top it off.
Islak means wet in Turkish and these are steamed burgers found around Taksim Square. Beef patties and soft white buns are soaked in a tomato garlic sauce then left in a steam book until customers come by. The most popular time to buy them is after a night out in Beyoglu and you will see groups of hungry friends ending their night with this snack.
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