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In Turkey, people like to sit down on a Sunday and enjoy a traditional kahvalti, which translates as ‘before the coffee’. It’s a hearty breakfast buffet, with various small dishes including bread, cheese, eggs, olives and honey.

What is kahvalti?

A late breakfast or brunch always goes down well, wherever you are in the world. In Turkey, it’s Sundays when people like to make time to sit down and catch up over a traditional kahvalti (Turkish spelling: kahvaltı, pronounced ‘kach-valtie’) which translates as ‘before the coffee’. Kahvalti is what’s eaten before the coffee starts flowing. It can be enjoyed at home or savoured at a dedicated eatery. Those looking to enjoy it away from home almost always need to make a reservation, with eateries packed out as a general rule. 

A standard kahvalti spread will have the table groaning under its weight thanks to its many dishes. Some of the elements are clean and healthy, like the ever-present cucumber and tomato slices, olives and honey. Expect tons of Turkish bread, various cheeses, jam, kayman (that’s Turkish cream of buffalo milk), boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, doughnuts, yogurts and so on. During the breakfast feast, tea is sipped throughout, with an extra-strong coffee served up toward the end to deliver an essential caffeine kick. 

Did you know...

During the week, Turkish people often keep their breakfasts basic and lean, with a small serving of bread with olives an example. Considering the way they dine on Sunday, working up an appetite throughout the week makes perfect sense. 

How to make kahvalti

A Turkish breakfast is a matter of preparing, assembling and displaying a selection of small plates and dishes. The first thing to do is to arrange the cold ingredients first. Think your slices of cucumber and tomato, marinated olives and pieces of cheese. Then, tea is delicately prepared in a special teapot, the caydanlik, with the beverage served in small glasses. Hot dishes are then prepared just before serving. 

How to eat

Invite as many friends and family as you can think of. The more, the merrier. And remember, take your time and savour the experience. 

Also try

Another delicious component of a Turkish breakfast buffet is sucuk, a sausage native to the cuisine of the country. 

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