Turkish chefs love onions
(soğan, soh-AHN—don't pronounce
the 'soft-ğ' at all).
One of my standing
jokes about Turkish recipes is that
they all start "Chop very
finely six large onions...."
They add spring onions (green onions, scallions) to salads.
Turkish chefs add onion—chopped, grated,
sliced or whole—to lots of the savory
stews and grilled, stewed or roasted
meat dishes to add a foundation of
For example, köfte (lamb
meatballs) are traditionally made by
combining ground lamb, raw egg, and
chopped onion, then grilling or stewing.
Even one of my favorite Turkish stews, etli
nohut (chick peas
and lamb chunks in a tomato sauce)
starts with the proverbial six
large onions, finely chopped. You
would never guess there were onions
in it by looking at it. Only
the rich flavor foundation betrays
So onion is an inescapable part
of some Turkish foods. To ask if a
dish includes onions, ask İçinde
soğan var mı? (ee-cheen-DEH
soh-AHN VAHR muh, "Does it include
You can also say Soğana
alerjim var (soh-AHN-AH
ah-lehr-ZHEEM vahr, "I'm allergic
To ask for a dish to be prepared without
onion (a salad, for example), ask for
it soğansız (soh-AHN-SUHZ,
"Without onion.") Be aware
that in some cases the cook may merely
pick out the bits of onion, perhaps
not getting them all, or leaving some
onion residue on other ingredients.
All that having been said, there
are plenty of delicious Turkish dishes
that are made without onion,
or that can be made without onion
of köfte, order kuzu
baby lamb chops; or bonfile,
a small tenderloin beefsteak; or grilled
seafood. In stews, look for the ones
that have chunks of whole lamb, rather
or no meat at all.
But of course
always ask if a stew
can ignore the plate of sliced
onion to the left, and enjoy
the lamb, salad and fresh
Below, avoid any sort of
probably contain onion.