Turkish cookery is essentially the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Turkish cuisine has in turn influenced those and other neighbouring cuisines, including those of western Europe. The Ottomans fused various culinary traditions of their realm with influences from Middle Eastern cuisines, together with traditional Turkic elements from Central Asia (such as yogurt), creating a vast array of specialities, many with strong regional associations.
Turkish cuisine isn't homogeneous. Aside from common Turkish specialities that you can find throughout the country, in addition there are many region-specific specialities. The Black Sea region's cuisine (northern Turkey) is based on corn and anchovies. The southeast-Urfa, Gaziantep and Adana-is well-known for its kebabs, mezes and dough-based desserts for example baklava, kadayif and künefe. Especially in the western areas of Turkey, where olive trees are grown in abundance, olive oil is the most important type of oil used for cooking. The cuisines of the Aegean, Marmara and Mediterranean areas display basic characteristics of Mediterranean cuisine as they are rich in vegetables, herbs and fish. Central Anatolia is known for its pasta specialties, such as keskek (kashkak), manti (especially from Kayseri) and gözleme.
A specialty's name sometimes includes that of a city or region, either in or outside of Turkey, and may even refer to the particular technique or ingredients utilised in that area. As an example, the difference between Urfa kebab and Adana kebab is the use of garlic rather than onion and also the larger amount of hot pepper that kebab contains.
Frequently used ingredients in Turkish specialities include: meat, eggplants, green peppers, onions, garlic, lentils, beans and tomatoes. Nuts, especially pistachios, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts, along with spices, possess a special place in Turkish cuisine. A great variety of spices are sold in the Spice Bazaar (Misir Çarsisi). Preferred spices and herbs include parsley, cumin, black pepper, paprika, mint, oregano and thyme.