Throughout history, the cultural heritage of the people who have adopted this place as a homeland has revealed a unique cultural structure reflecting the diversity of food in Gaziantep.
Considering the 6,000-year history of Gaziantep, the fact that Zeugma was one of the most populous places in the world 2,200-2,300 years ago, and the city's location on the historical Silk Road and the Spice Road, are all factors, which enabled people from different languages, religions and ethnic origins to visit the city and to settle here. This human traffic has enriched the city culturally and contributed to the emergence of Gaziantep cuisine culture.
The meticulousness in the selection of the ingredients used in the making of dishes and desserts, the skill shown in the preparation and cooking, the spices used, sauces and mixtures, which are transferred from grandparents to grandchildren like an inheritance, have caused Gaziantep dishes to be sought after.
The spices and flavors used in Gaziantep dishes are very diverse. Haspir (saffron), mint, tarragon, cumin, fennel, cinnamon are only a few of them. In addition, Gaziantep cuisine has seven types of sours: lemon, lemon salt, sour grape, sour grape molasses, sumac powder, sumac sour, and pomegranate syrup. Fresh garlic and onion, which are both healthy, tasty and appetizing, are used in many dishes. Fruit, such as quince, apple, plum, almond, apricot, and pistachio are frequently used in meals.
When speaking of diversity, Gaziantep cuisine has more than 30 different kinds of kebabs, 40 kinds of aubergine dishes with and without meat, 50 kinds of various vegetable dishes with and without meat, 30 kinds of dishes with yoğurt, 30 kinds of soups, 30 varieties of stuffed vegetables and stuffed grape leaves, 30 kinds of salad, and appetizers, 20 kinds of pastry and lahmacun, 10 kinds of meatballs and 30 kinds of desserts.
Gaziantep cuisine, which has around 500 original dishes, 35 of which are registered, received the 2015 "Local Gastronomy and Tourism" Award of the European Destinations of Outstanding Project (EDEN). Gaziantep, which additionally was included in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network List in 2015, has started to have a say in the world cuisine literature.
In order to get to know Gaziantep cuisine culture closely, you can visit the Emine Göğüş Culinary Museum (Emine Göğüş Mutfak Müzesi) in the city and get a lot of information. You can also attend the International GastroAntep Festival and watch the workshops held by Michelin-star chefs using entirely local products.
Gaziantep is the capital of this dessert, which is also the most famous desert of the city. Baklava is very well known across the World. It is the first ever Turkish product registered in the European Commission’s List of Protected Designation of Origin, and the Protected Geographical Indication, which both are a list that aims to promote and protect the names of quality agricultural products.
Baklava is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough filled with chopped Antep pistachios and sweetened with syrup.
Baklava masters from Antep say that a good baklava should appeal to the five senses of a person. First of all, Baklava should be well cooked, well puffed and look pleasing with its golden yellow color; and when you take it in your hands, it should be light, not heavy due to excess syrup; it should smell of fresh pistachio and fine butter; and when you bite, the rustling of thinly rolled doughs should be heard and should ultimately leave a unique taste on your palate.
You can visit the Baklava Museum (Baklava Müzesi) in Antep to learn how the baklava master created this work of art, the stages it went through during the production, and the necessary tricks to create a magnificent work in terms of both appearance and taste.
Standing out as one of the most special flavors of the region, Antepfıstığı is also the symbol of Gaziantep with its 4,000-5,000 years of history. In addition to its consumption as a snack, Antepfıstığı, which is used as an aroma additive in the confectionery and dessert (especially baklava and chocolate) industries, is a source of energy and is very valuable in terms of nutrition.
Pistachio and pistachio food products are offered to taste of people of Antep and tourists in many places. In the Antepfıstığı Museum (Antepfıstığı Müzesi) located in the city, the journey of pistachio from branch to table is described.
Beyran, which is a very laborious, local meat and rice dish, requires technique and mastery. Meat and marrowbones are cooked on low heat for 10-12 hours, and then the meat is chopped to pieces. Boiled rice and chopped meat are then added to the saucer, which is oiled with tallow or without oil, if desired. Although Beyran can be consumed at any time of the day in Antep, it is mostly preferred for breakfast. According to the records, the first Beyran shop was opened in 1885 in the Gaziantep Bazaar (Gaziantep Çarşısı).
The color of Nizip olive oil varies between clear green and yellow. Nizip olive oil is one of the indispensable items of the Antep cuisine. It has a unique taste and smell, and is an important source of vegetative compounds. Oil rate of Nizip olives are 35- 37 % higher than olives grown in other regions depending on the maturation stage, climate conditions and soil structure.
Lahmacun is prepared by spreading a certain amount of material by hand, which is made with minced meat, parsley, garlic, tomatoes, green and red peppers and various spices on a thinly rolled dough, and then baked in stone ovens.
Licorice Sherbet, or in Turkish, Meyan Şerbeti, which is an integral part of Gaziantep culture, is consumed especially in summer, on religiously important days and during Ramadan. This sherbet, which does not contain sweetening agents and consists of completely natural ingredients (licorice fibers, water, cinnamon powder, clove, and rose water), is made at home by some people of Antep, but it is often bought from sellers wandering the streets, wearing traditional clothes, and carrying a large “sherbet bag”. Sellers pour the licorice sherbet in the leather bottle on their backs into a bowl or glass and sell it. In order to attract customers and make them noticed, they rattle the two bowls they put on top of each other by hitting each other.