Countries with the Most Similar Food to Turkey

Country Food Similarity Index - Map of Countries with Similar Food to Turkey

The Country Food Similarity Index is a statistically-based attempt to quantify how similar the food in one country is relative to another. By comparing the weight of raw food ingredients used in each country, a score is assigned that reflects the degree of similarity between the respective countries. The methodology is exactly the same for each country studied. 

The Most Similar Cuisines to Turkish Food

Turkish is at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Its food is a reflection of its surrounding region’s influences. Four of the five countries with the most similar food to Turkey were once part of the Ottoman Empire. With the exception of Israel, these countries are mostly Muslim as well. Furthermore, the dominant religion in all five of these countries prohibits the consumption of pork products.

  1. Iran is located to the southeast of Turkey. These nations share a long history of cultural and culinary exchanges. Iranian cuisine is characterized by its vibrant flavors and the abundant use of fresh herbs and spices. Wheat and Tomatoes are the two most commonly used ingredients in these countries. Similar to Turkish cuisine, kebabs are popular in Iran, with variations like koobideh and barg. However, rice is more commonly eaten in Iran.
  2. Azerbaijan borders both Iran and Turkey. The Azeribaijani language is also extremely similar to Turkish. Kebabs (grilled meats) and dolma (stuffed vegetables such as bell peppers and eggplants) are commonly eaten in both nations. Another notable similarity is the traditional flatbread called lavash, which is enjoyed in both countries. Ingredients like mint, parsley, dill, sumac, cinnamon, cumin, and turmeric also add depth and flavor to their dishes.
  3. Albania is the European country with the most similar food to Turkey. Albania’s similarities with Turkish cuisine can be seen in dishes like burek (filled pastries), stuffed vegetables, and yogurt-based dishes. However, Albanians tend to eat more fruit, especially grapes, apples, and watermelons.
  4. Lebanon is another Mediterranean country on this list. Both cuisines feature mezze, a selection of small appetizers, showcasing a vibrant array of flavors. Kebabs, grilled meats, and flatbreads like pita are also shared favorites. Moreover, the abundant use of olive oil, garlic, and citrus fruits in Lebanese cuisine echoes Turkish culinary practices.
  5. Israel‘s cuisine is also a fusion of elements from Europe and the Middle East. Shared dishes include hummus, falafel, and shawarma, which have become popular street foods in both countries. Additionally, the use of spices, herbs, and ingredients like eggplant, tahini, and pomegranate molasses are reminiscent of Turkish flavors.

Related: The 10 Most Similar Countries to Turkey

The Least Similar Cuisines to Turkish Food

The countries with the least similar food to Turkey are all in tropical regions, so their climates are typically much hotter and wetter. Four of the five are located in Africa. These nations are not as well developed as Turkey. Furthermore, their diets rely far less on the consumption of wheat, tomatoes, and potatoes.

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo is a former Belgian colony located in the middle of Africa. Cassava is the dominant staple food in the country. The most commonly eaten meat in Congo is freshwater fish, whereas chicken and beef are more popular proteins in Turkey. Furthermore, the country’s diet has relatively little meat in it.
  2. Central African Republic is a former French colony located to the north of Congo. The majority of the country’s diet is based on cassava and yams. Bananas and plantains are also an extremely common source of food in the country. In addition, comparatively little chicken is consumed in Central African Republic.
  3. Cambodia, like most of Turkey, is located in Asia. However, their cuisines are far different. The Cambodian diet is heavily based in rice and cassava, while relatively little wheat, tomatoes, and potatoes are consumed there. Another difference is that freshwater fish are more commonly eaten in Cambodia than Turkey.
  4. South Sudan is located to the northeast of Congo. It is another country where cassava is the staple food, however the country eats its share of sorghum as well. Porridge is one of the most popular dishes in the country. However, they are not completely different. Both the Turkey and South Sudan eat a significant amount of beef.
  5. Burundi is yet another country in the tropical regions of Africa that borders Congo. Its diet is in large part based on cassava, sweet potatoes, plantains, and bananas. Very little rice and wheat is eaten in Burundi as well. Moreover, an extremely small amount of meat is consumed there. As a result, its cuisine is far different from Turkey’s.

Related: The 10 Least Similar Countries to Turkey

Full Food Similarity Ranking of Countries and Territories

Turkey’s Most Common Food Ingredients

Protein: Chicken, Beef
Fruit: Apple, Grape
Vegetable: Tomato, Bell pepper
Starch: Wheat, Potato

Primarily based on 2020 data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N.

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