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Kumpir

Kumpir
Kumpir

Kumpir

The Turkish street food, kumpir is a baked potato buried under a mound of your chosen toppings, like sweetcorn, peas, tuna flakes and kisir (Bulgarian salad), served on an aluminium foil dish. Cheese and butter should certainly not be omitted.

What is kumpir?

The Turkish food, kumpir (pronounced “khum-phir”) is a baked potato that is cut open and covered with a pile of delicious toppings of your choosing. You can choose from sweetcorn, peas, tuna and kisir (Bulgarian salad). Cheese and butter should also not be omitted. The snack, which is really more a meal than a snack, is immensely popular throughout Turkey.

You may wonder what’s so special about a baked potato? The kumpir has taken on almost mythical proportions in Istanbul, literally and figuratively! The one place on earth where you simply have to eat kumpir is located in the Istanbul district of Ortakoy. There is a cobblestoned alley that leads from the main road to the Bosphorus River that is lined with kumpir stalls. The street is affectionately called “Baked Potato Alley” (Kumpir Sokak) by the locals. Competing merchants lure customers to their stalls with promises of larger potatoes and more sauces, and one merchant always stacks his toppings higher than the other.

According to some, kumpir is originally from the Balkans, where the dish is more or less the same and is called, for example, krumpir in Croatia and krompir in Serbia. Others claim the exact opposite and say that the Ottoman introduced the potato to the Balkans during the expansion of their empire. The Germans also claim that the name came from them.

Did you know?

The toppings for kumpir change with the times. In recent times, healthier ingredients, such as tuna and roasted eggplant, can be found at kumpir stalls. Such ingredients would not have been popular ten years ago.

How to prepare kumpir

Large, floury potatoes are baked and cut open. The soft inside is mashed and a spoon of butter is mixed in. A layer of grated cheese is added on top of this creamy mashed potato, followed by a large selection of your chosen toppings. The more, the better! Cubes of tomato fight for space with olive slices, carrot, corn kernels, strips of red cabbage, chopped spring onion, sucuk cubes (Turkish sausage), grated carrot and pickles. Mayo, ketchup and yoghurt sauce is added last. This is not a moment for moderation!

How to eat kumpir

In Istanbul, kumpir is enjoyed on a waterfront bench with a view of the Bosphorus, in the shadow of the beautiful Ortakoy Mosque; al fresco dining on the cheap! Fortunately, many European cities also have river banks and waterways where the same authentic experience can be enjoyed.

Also try

Combine kumpir with one or two other popular street foods like simit and icli kofte for the ultimate Turkish picnic. 

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Kumpir