In Turkey, there are many opportunities to introduce your palette to wonderful new and exciting tastes not experienced before.
The cuisine is praised around the world for its diversity, and a must try is traditional Turkish ice cream. The taste and texture is very different compared to other countries including famous Italian ice cream.
Turkish ice cream is known as ‘dondurma’ which translated literally means frozen. Traditional Turkish ‘Maras’ ice cream though, is in a league of its own.
Maras ice cream is a super stretchy and elastic ice cream from the region of Kahramanmaras.
It is like no other ice cream and can only be experienced and devoured in Turkey.
It is widely known as ‘real’ Turkish ice cream with a thick texture and can even be eaten with a knife and fork.
The most important ingredient of this tasty Turkish ice cream is goat’s milk. Salep and mastic are other important ingredients that give this ice cream its incredibly creamy flavor, a bit like vanilla but much richer.
Maras ice cream is the symbol of Kahramanmaras. The milk comes from goats that graze on the Ahir Mountain, with the natural salep coming from the roots of Orchid plants.
The special manufacturing process of Maras Ice cream
The production of the ice cream involves boiling the ingredients with the milk and then being frozen. When the salep and mastic is added, it gives the ice cream a viscous and sticky consistency.
This is the main difference to other types of ice cream that are famous in Europe.
The other effect of adding salep is that it delays the melting of the ice cream, meaning during the hot summer months Maras ice cream lasts longer and isn’t so quick to drip.
Maras ice cream is so tough due to the high proportion of salep that many people can be seen eating it with a knife and fork!
In Turkey, Maras ice cream can be bought from supermarkets like most others types but the best is sold by street vendors.
The vendors are very traditional in their dress and wear costumes in bright colors, particularly red and gold.
The ice cream is mixed by them on site, in huge metal bowls whilst being kept cold.
They have to constantly stir the ice cream to help it retain its elastic and stretchy consistency.
The street vendors often perform and wave the stretchy ice cream from tongs and during handover perform tricks that are both entertaining and comical.
About the special ingredient salep
Salep comes from the tubers of some terrestrial orchids.
These days, the orchid plants are specially protected within the EU and the trade in salep has been banned in many countries.
Maras ice cream, which contains salep is now therefore almost exclusively available in Turkey.
Some orchid species, which are only native to Turkey, were threatened with extinction due to the increasing demand for salep. This initially led to protective measures and then later to the cultivation of orchids within Turkey.
Grown in the south eastern mountains of Turkey, the Turkish Government hastily made a ban on exporting salep, however, in Turkey the ice cream is more popular now than ever before.
Over the years new flavors have been introduced, but there’s nothing quite like the original. Be sure to try it whilst in Turkey because anyone who does will always choose it over any other type.