Mouth-watering, finger-licking, yum-yum. All these words pale in comparison to the act of indulging in one of the highest-profile and well-recognized Turkish treats, the Turkish Delight. In texture, flavor, and versatility, the famous delicacy excels.
If you carry a daring sweet tooth, Turkish delight will cling to it. Literally. Dating 500 years back to the times of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish delight or rahat lokum is sweetened with molasses and honey. The thin dust of icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar is designed to prevent the confectionery from becoming a permanent marshmallowy coating on your teeth.
All in all, the most recognizable trait of the lokum, or ‘mouthful’ in translation from Arabic, is its chewiness. In terms of texture, it almost resembles a square chunk of bubblegum complete with chopped dates, hazelnuts, pistachios, or for the more traditional varieties – Bergamot orange, rosewater, or lemon.
While Turkish delight is a must-have for the taste buds, the Turkish master confectioners have not gambled all their pistachio on one recipe. In consequence, a visit to the great bazaars of Istanbul will display such eye-candy as baklava, halva, nougat, Pişmaniye, kanafeh, lokma, and more.
Turkish Delight – A Taste Right Out of the Arabian Nights
The legends say Turkish Delight once appeased the quarreling wives and lovers of a great sultan. He was struggling to maintain peace not only throughout his vast empire but in his overwhelmingly crowded harem as well. However, in the US, this exotic delicacy came to prominence thanks to Edmund Pevensie, the hero in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. So is this rose-flavored sweet worth selling your soul?
First of all, you won’t have to. The price is not exigent enough to require such sacrifice. Although you might end up offering your everlasting loyalty for free. Once you get hooked on Turkish delight, you won’t want to unhook yourself.
This particular brand’s appeal is that it offers different coatings, such as barberries, saffron, chocolate, and rose petals. It doesn’t contain any preservatives or additives. And definitely, no peanuts. The prize nutty flavor you taste is pistachio, which the brand vows comes in a quantity of at least 45%.
You can’t beat tradition. Here are two brands with a few centuries of delighting generations of gourmands and coffee-lovers alike. Haci Bekir is the legendary confectioner that started the Turkish delight trend in 1777. While Mehmet Efendi has been roasting coffee since 1871. Both their products are considered upscale.
Considered mainly an ethnic treat, Turkish delight is found exclusively in specialty stores outside the Balkans area. However, if you happen to cross paths with one brand in a supermarket, it will almost definitely be Haci Bekir. This delicacy sticks to the plain and simple, which means you should expect the classic sugar coating.
‘…this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves.’
One important piece of advice. When buying Turkish Delight, make sure it’s fresh. Otherwise, seeing that it doesn’t contain any preservatives, you might sink your teeth in a crumbly and stale so-called delicacy. And you won’t figure out why all the fuss over it. But listen to the words of C.S Lewis. The writer seems to have experienced the magic himself.