Try Fried Calamari, Turkish Cuisine's Favorite 'Meze'

This delicious appetizer is served at fish restaurants all over Turkey

By Elizabeth Taviloglu
Published: Mar 31, 2014 07:42 PM GMT / 
Updated: Apr 01, 2014 06:39 AM GMT

When you dine out, is fried calamari your favorite appetizer?  If you’re looking for a new twist on this good old standby, try this recipe for Turkish-style fried calamari.

Better known as ‘kalamar tava,’ fried calamari is one of Turkish cuisine’s most popular  hot ‘meze’ dishes.  Turkish seafood lovers are very particular about their calamari.

It must be tender and fresh, fresh, fresh. First the calamari is rubbed in a mixture of baking soda and lemon juice to tenderize it. Then it’s dipped in salted flour rather than batter and fried to perfection.

The crust must be paper-thin and light, not thick and greasy. Overcooked calamari becomes rubbery and is frowned upon.

What makes Turkish fried calamari so delicious is the addition of a tangy dipping sauce called ‘tarator.’ Tarator is made using plain yogurt, stale bread, farlic and lemon juice.  It seems like a strange combination, but it’s really delicious.

My family and I often get a double portion of fried calamari before the main course. We enjoy it so much, the calamari often becomes the main course.

If you can get fresh calamari at home, try this recipe for Turkish-style fried calamari, Turkey’s favorite ‘meze.’

Photo © Xavier Allard -


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