G6PD Deficiency – Travel in Turkey

Travelers in Turkey with the inherited glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency must take care not to eat Fava beans/broad beans (Vicia faba), called bakla(BAHK-lah) in Turkish.

(Note that baklava has nothing to do with bakla. They are two entirely different foods. Also, bakla are not green beans(fasulye). More…)

Broad beans are sometimes found in Turkish stews, and are usually identifiable by sight. Falafel, which may be made from either broad beans or chickpeas, is not as common in Turkey as in some other eastern Mediterranean countries.

Hummus is usually made with smashed chickpeas/garbanzos (nohut in Turkish)but it may in some cases be made with other pulses. White beans (kuru fasulye) are far more common than broad beans; green peas (bezelye) turn up occasionally in stews, salads and purées; black-eyed peas (börülce) are rarer. Lentils(mercimek, MEHR-jee-MEHK) are also a common food in Turkey, especially as mercimek çorbası, lentil soup.

In general, chickpea, white bean and lentil dishes are far more common in Turkey than broad bean dishes.

Here’s how to ask about your food:

Are there Fava beans in it? = İçinde bakla var mı? (EECH-een-DEH BAHK-lah VAHR muh)

Yes = evet (eh-VEHT)

No = hayır/yok (‘higher,’ YOHK)

I’m allergic to broad beans = bakla alerjim var (BAHK-lah ah-lehr-ZHEEM vahr)

In Turkish, G6PD deficiency is G6PD Eksikliği (GEH al-TUH PEH DEH ek-seek-lee-ee).

Most processed food packages in Turkey contain lists of ingredients, often in several languages, but you may want to have a Turkish speaker help to interpret the ingredients list.

I’m indebted to TTP reader George Messaritakis for much of the information on this page. Here’s more on G6PD deficiency.


Green Beans (Fasulye)

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