Hatay Street and Market Foods

As it is known, each region has a different life style and different kind of cooking and eating habits accordingly. Sometimes this is based on conditions and needs of the time. In Antakya cuisine, eating habits are sometimes conveyed to street and street vendors offer food to the public. There are some seasonal foods that are only offered in winters or summers. We may see breakfasts, lunches and mid-afternoon meals offered as street foods.

In general, bagel and buttermilk combination has been offered in the mornings for a long time. This combination is mostly seen in Aprils. It continues throughout the entire summer and disappears through winter. When autumn comes, muhammara [walnut and red pepper paste], zengin [salad], biberli ekmek [pepper bread], öcce [vegetable patty] sales are seen on the stands of street vendors. Maybe you would ask what they are actually doing with muhammara and zengin? The vendor places these two pepper dishes on surface of breads and offers them in wraps. There are regional differences in street foods. While pilaf with chickpeas and fried liver are sold in Istanbul, it is necessary to mention liver kebab prepared hot in a food stand only early in mornings in Antakya. Liver kebab is a breakfast that is generally sought in winters. This type of breakfast, however, is seen in places where tradesmen population is intensive. Another food sold by street vendors is bezirgan kebab, which is a wrap generally consists of boiled eggs and spring onions. An important part of the street vendors consists of dessert and candy sellers. These vendors, however, do not serve for breakfast, but they appear after 10:00 o’clock. These include şam tatlısı [Damascus dessert], züngül, yazın haytalı (bici – bici), şerbetçiler [sherbet sellers] (made of licorice root), cevizli (walnut and sugar mixture), sakızlı (a kind of candy where candy is softened in cold water bath, and then, sesame is put on the candy), Gaz-lil-Benat (cotton candy), toffee apple, ice cream sellers, bagel sellers, sarı bülbül (boiled chickpea). Boiled chickpea is offered by street vendors ready to be served hot in a rectangular glass container of which lid is opened from the top in afternoons. In general, the vendor calls out as “sarı bülbül” [“yellow nightingale”] or “sarı bülbül geldi” [“yellow nightingale is here”] for selling chickpea to the public.

Licorice sherbet, which is also offered during summers at noon and in afternoons, is an indispensible beverage of street vendors. This sherbet that is generally prepared as cooled and offered in a special container with an apparatus, on which glasses are lined up and tied on to the belly of the vendor. The vendor used to make a sound with two nested bowls in his hand. Licorice sherbet has always been one of the most important beverages of Antakya for a long time. In addition, banana (aromatic) sherbet was also sold. As it was a more expensive beverage, it could never replace licorice sherbet.

“Ramadan Halvah” sold in Ramadan is a specific dessert. It is only made in Ramadan are lined up on a tray and sold by street vendors. The main ingredients of halvah are gypsophila, sugar, citric acid and sesame.

Ice cream is another dessert that has a cooling effect and is sold in summers. Handmade ice creams are prepared in the morning. In the mid-afternoons, we hear the voices of ice cream sellers with special stands calling out “salep and lemon”. When we heard their voice, we would understand that we could have vanilla ice cream or lemon ice cream.

An important street food in afternoons is “afternoon bagel”. This kind of bagel, which is also made nowadays, is a crispy bagel -of which top and bottom is roasted- with a soft inner part. This bagel used to be made of dough fermented with chickpea yeast. Chickpea yeast is a kind of custom-made yeast. Afternoon bagel’s odor and taste is also different as the inner part of the bagel does not get dry because of chickpea yeast and its odor is different than any other yeast. Speaking of chickpea yeast, sea biscuit  –which does not lose its crispy taste for a long time- (now called “Etimek”) was also made with this yeast. These are materials that are also sold by street vendors.

In autumn, pomegranate fruit appears. Pomegranate juice sales used to continue until orange appeared. Then, orange juice would be sold instead of pomegranate juice. Nowadays, these vendors disappeared.

In winters, roasted chestnut sellers used to sell by sitting in general. Nowadays, roasted chestnut sellers continue to peddle. In summary, Antakya cuisine is also conveyed to the streets and they convey its richness so well that there are specific morning and afternoon foods as well as summer and winter specific foods including desserts and syrup. Salep, bagel, pumpkin dessert and many others…



  1. Ünal KAHRAMAN – Food Engineer – Project Advisor