Kocaeli is a city where the traditions and customs of each region's culture are kept alive, as it has hosted different cultures throughout the ages. It is possible to find the flavors of every region in this rich Kocaeli cuisine. Special days and traditions have an important place in Kocaeli cuisine. While dishes such as “Umaç soup”, “Dartılı Keskek”, “Simit Dolma” are served at weddings and parties; “Pide with Mancar” is served on Kandil nights. These traditional dishes attract attention not only with their taste but also with the way they are prepared.
Umaç soup, which is easy to make and loved by everyone, is one of the favorite flavors of the Kocaeli region. It is cooked by mixing flour, water, and salt. Oil, salt, pepper are melted and tossed into the boiling soup.
Pide with Mancar
“Pide with Mancar” is a vegetarian product and is made using greens such as chard or spinach, which are called mancar grass.
Eşme Quince and Cezerye
The famous Eşme Quince, which is exported to eleven countries in the world, is grown in the Kartepe district of Kocaeli. It is very juicy and tastes sour. Eşme Quince Cezerye is made from Eşme Quince.
İzmit Cotton Candy is a type of halva and one of the most famous desserts in İzmit. It is made from butter, vanilla (cocoa depending on the type), lemon salt, sugar, flour, and water. It is possible to find İzmit Pişmaniye in every corner of Kocaeli.
Simit Dolma (Stuffed Bagel)
Simit dolma is a type of pide made in the bakeries in Karamürsel. It contains cheese or ground beef. Cheese or ground beef is mixed with chopped parsley and wrapped in dough, cut like a bagel, and baked in the oven.
Dartı is an indispensable flavor of Kocaeli breakfast tables, a kind of butter/cream prepared by boiling raw milk and separating the solid part from its fat. Dartı, which is used as a sauce for breakfast and pasta, is especially consumed in the production of Keşkek.
Karamürsel Olives, which grow on the slopes of Samanlı Mountain (Samanlı Dağı), are different from other olives with their thin skin, large structure, and small stone. They are available as two types, green and black, and they have a high-fat content.
Kandıra Manda Yoğurt
One of the best-known values of Kandıra is the famous Kandıra Manda Yoğurt (Kandıra Buffalo Yoghurt). Local Kandıra Yoğurt is made with a mixture of water, buffalo, cow, and sheep milk. It is fermented in special conditions and aluminum containers and presented to the consumer in the same containers.
Sütlü Nuriye Dessert
Sütlü Nuriye Dessert is made by adding layers of thinly rolled dough, walnuts, and all-natural milk and sugar. It is a light and healthy dessert.
The cooking and preparation style of Kiremitte Alabalık (Trout is baked in a “kiremit”, an earthenware tile which can be placed in the oven or directly over a flame) very different from other fish. The sauce is prepared with garlic, black pepper, salt, and olive oil. The prepared sauce is applied to the fish with a brush. The garlic on the bottom of the mixture is placed on the belly of the fish and the fish is put in the oven over medium heat on an oiled tile.
Keşkek, a traditional Turkish dish, is also found in Kocaeli cuisine. In Kocaeli, Keşkek with Dartı, especially served at weddings, includes wheat, chicken, darti, red pepper, and black pepper. It is served by pouring butter over the prepared Keşkek.
Kuyu Kebap is a delicious dish prepared by hanging the lamb in a tandoori and roasting it gently and thoroughly over a wood fire.
Other Fruits and Nuts
The “Yarımca Cherry”, also known as “Napoleon Cherry”, with its large pieces, big pip, and wonderful taste as well as its dark color, “Kandıra Watermelon”, which is famous for its unique taste and smell, “İhsaniye Apple” with its green color and juicy taste and “Değirmendere Hazelnut”, which has been famous and consumed raw for 150 years, are among the other local flavors of Kocaeli.