Local treats not to miss in Van ...
So you went to see the castle and took the boat over to Akdamar island. Your experience, however, won't be complete without trying some of the dishes typical of this region.
First of all, do not miss having a full breakfast in one of the cities breakfast restaurants called "kahvalti salonu". They abound here, you can find them clustered around the market area or in a small sidestreet just off the main thoroughfare, Cumhüriyet caddesi. They offer various cheeses, egg (fried or boiled), olives, fresh butter, tahini and pekmez (molasses), and honey & cream, if you prefer a sweet start to your day. These are the places to have milk or coffee to your breakfast, or you may stick to the obligatory cups of tea.
"Bal ve kaymak" Honey and cream served with piles of fresh local bread ("pide"-the flat bread, or "ekmek" the fresh loaf).
Van is the home of "otlu peynir" white cheese (can be either of sheep’s or cow’s milk) with mountain herbs, conserved in salt. Walking around, you will see big heaps of it in cheese shops, some of them selling cheese prepared by nomadic families living in the surrounding mountains.
Absolute specialities, that you cannot find anywhere else in the country, are "jejerun/murtuga" and "devseyiti / kavut". On the left you see "jejerun / murtuga": bread coated in egg and flour, fried in oil. "Devseyiti" or "kavut" contains ground wheat, black pepper, some sugar, simmered together in butter.
For dinner, try "ayran asi" the local yoghurt soup cooked with mint and cracked wheat. A highly recommended, refreshing option for a hot summer evening. (Do not be surprised however, that you will be served bread, fresh mixed salad and "ezme" a mix of finely chopped tomato, onion, parsley and chili- before your soup arrives. These are the obligatory and free appetizers, no matter what you order after.)
"Keledos" is another regional staple – chickpea, wheat, leek, beans cooked together until tender, topped with a sauce of chili and oil, and herbs (mint, thyme). You can choose it as an appetizer – but be careful with your main course, this is a fillling dish! Vegetarians should watch out, because it may come with or without meat (etli or etsiz).
Afiyet olsun! Enjoy!
We hope to see you soon in Turkey!