You have never tried jacket potatoes like this!
Jacket potato is a very common dish around the world that can be found in the UK, France, Armenia, Russia and beyond. The Turkish version of this dish is called Kumpir, which is a simple but delicious street food. It may not look very different from an ordinary jacket potato, but the taste of a Kumpir sets it apart from its international peers. It is rich in flavour, well-seasoned and enriched with multiple layers of toppings. Combined with a variety of wonderful sauces, it is pure pleasure.
The famous Turkish street food comes from Croatia. In Croatian, the word for ‘potato’ is actually ‘Krumpir’. Interestingly, in modern-day Croatian cuisine, there is no dish similar to a Turkish Kumpir. Traditionally, a Kumpir is a baked potato where the potato flesh is mixed with butter and half-melted kaşar cheese. But in the Turkish version, you will always get more. One of the best things about street food in Turkey is that you will always have numerous combinations of toppings. It can be served with meat or with vegan and vegetarian toppings, so you can make a combination you personally enjoy.
Though there are infinite possibilities when it comes to ingredients of a Kumpir, there are several that are popular and may be considered essential to a good Kumpir. First of all, a good potato. You can’t make a Kumpir without a good potato. A good Kumpir potato is considered baked crispy on the outside with the inside creamily cooked. Normally in the street stands of Kumpir, a specially made Kumpir oven will be used. It is specially made for Kumpir, baking it until it is dry on the outside but fluffy inside.
Next in line are butter and cheese. After the potato is out of the oven, the potato will be sliced open in the middle, and then butter and cheese will be added to it and the vendor will whisk them together with the potato. In the meantime, the heat of the freshly baked potato will melt the cheese and butter.
As for toppings, there are a few popular choices. One of the most common ones is sweetcorn. It brings a bit of sweetness and freshness to the Kumpir, layering it up with texture and flavours. One of the perks of sweetcorn is that its sweetness is very subtle so it will not overpower the whole taste of the Kumpir but brings a nice touch to it. Similar to sweetcorn, pickles are another favoured choice of toppings. Pickles are pretty commonly used in Turkish street food. There are even pickle shops that are dedicated to making all kinds of pickles. In Turkish culture, pickle juice is considered a healthy drink. Kumpir with pickles on top may have also inherited the same concept as well. Taste-wise, pickles give out a slight sourness to the Kumpir, giving a freshness and tang in terms of flavour.
Other common toppings are vegetables or salad, such as the famous kisir, to bring balance to the taste of the Kumpir. These serve to balance out the heaviness of the cheese and butter.
On the other hand, Kumpir can also be served with meat toppings. One of the prevalent is Boşnak eti, a Turkish Dried meat similar to bacon. As Kumpir is usually topped with mayonnaise and other sauces, drier meat can stand out more in the whole dish. Turkish street food is all about flavours and textures. A good Kumpir is a well-balanced dish with layers of savouries making the street food charming and delicious to both locals and tourists.