The sweetest member of Turkish cuisine, the best gift to give or receive, the best companion with a Turkish coffee and a reason to love holidays in Turkey. Here we have Turkish Delight or ‘Lokum’ in Turkish, a chewy sweet that dates back hundreds of years and is an important part of the Ottoman cuisine.
Turkish Delight is one of the most ancient sweets in the world dating back over 250 years. It’s prepared from starch, sugar and citric acid and can be plain or filled with dry fruits, honey or nuts. It has a sticky texture and often Arabic gum is used as a binder.
Turkish Delight comes in cubes with powdered sugar or cream of tartar sprinkled all over. Although Turkish Delight now comes in a wide variety of flavors the staid and simple Rose flavor is still the most preferred. It’s the rosewater that gives the candy its trademark pink color.
This melt in your mouth candy was originally a royal dish, prepared and served exclusively for the regal palette. But now it’s become available in every part of turkey and has also become popular all over the world.
Turkish delight normally accompanies a tea or coffee in many Turkish households and restaurants. It also makes a perfect gift and many people take it home with them when they depart from Turkey. Turkish Delight is known as ‘Lokum’ in Turkish and the recipe has remained the same since the day of its creation.
Premium Turkish Delight or ‘Lokum’ generally contains dates, pistachios, hazelnuts and walnuts. There are many different flavors of Turkish Delight these days including coconut, cream, lemon, mint, orange, pomegranate, saffron, rose and chocolate.
Eating Turkish delight is also said to have health benefits! It can help reduce tonsillitis, its carbohydrates are useful for kidney disease and it’s a wonderful healer for boils and sores. Just like anything though, too much is harmful. It contains a lot of starch and sugar which may cause indigestion and result in liver oil, meaning weight gain.
How is it made?
Turkish Delight is made with citric acid, sugar, starch, food color and aroma. The sugar is boiled in water and dissolved. The citric acid and starch are left to dissolve in separate containers. Then the citric acid and starch are mixed with the sugar water. This is then boiled. The mixtures consistency is checked to make sure it’s sticky, then, it is kept in starchy cups for around 20 hours. Finally it’s shaped on a rigid surface and packed.
It’s said that the fully apprenticed confectioner, Bekir Efendi arrived in Istanbul from a little town in eastern Anatolia in 1777, during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid I. Bekir Efendi invented Turkish Delight and opened a small shop in the center of Istanbul. He became a chief confectioner to the Ottoman Court after the Turks fell in love with his sweet invention, Turkish Delight.
In the 19th Century, Turkish Delight made its way to the west via a British traveler who loved this sweet candy. This is how ‘Lokum’ became known as Turkish Delight to many other countries, mainly Britain. You can travel to any part of Turkey and stumble across Turkish Delight, normally packed in pretty boxes or seen in the windows on large trays, meaning you can order how much and which flavors you like creating personalized gifts. It really does make a wonderful present or souvenir and is favored by many who travel to Turkey