LOKUM ( TURKISH DELIGHT )
The history of Lokum isn’t that well known although it has been documented that it was eaten in Turkey in the 1700s. However, it is certain that Ali Muhittin Hacı Bekir’s lokums introduced the taste to the world. He opened his confectionery shop in Istanbul in 1776. An English explorer got lokum from his shop and took them to England. Turkish delight’s fame spread since then.
Its a gel made from starch and sugar. Originally it was flavoured with lemon, rose water or Bergamot orange. Also cinnamon and mint are very popular. The small cubes are dusted with icing sugar and cream of tartar to stop them sticking. Traditionally it is eaten with Turkish coffee however its also a popular gift from the Turkish culture.
Turkish ice cream has been made since the 16th century. It is thought to have originated in the city of Maras and thats how it gets its name. Its ingredients are cream, mastic, sugar and salep. Salep is made from the tubers of the orchid. Sadly the orchids are declining and therefore Turkey has a ban on exporting the Salep. There are lots of different flavours including vanilla, red currant, peach and pistachio. The ice cream is very stretchy and the more salep that is added the denser it becomes. Some even eat it with a knife and fork.
Asure also known as Noah’s Arc pudding is a dessert porridge. It gets its name from Islamic beliefs that Noah made it after the floods with the ingredients that were to hand. It is traditionally made in large quantities to commemorate the Arcs landing and is distributed to family, friends, work colleagues, etc with no regard to their religious beliefs. It is an offering of peace and love. It was usually eaten during the winter months but now is eaten all year round.
Asure doesn’t have any specific ingredients and it depends on each families traditions. However, the tradition is that it should have at least seven ingredients. Popular things to add are wheat, barley, rice, beans, chickpeas, sugar, pistachios, almonds, pomegranate walnuts etc It is traditionally a vegan dessert one of the most popular and well known in Turkey.
Baklava is a popular dessert in many countries, but the Turkish make it a little differently to their Greek neighbours. Traditionally it is made in large dishes. They use layers of fine filo pastry with crushed pistachios in between layers. The baklava is cut into diamond patterns before cooking. It’s baked and then a syrup mixture of water, sugar and lemon juice called serbet is poured over it and it makes it lighter and crispier than other variations. It is again sprinkled with the pistachios and then served at room temperature.
This recipe’s main ingredient may come as a shock. Shredded chicken breast, milk, sugar and rice are the unusual combination in this dessert. The chicken is ground up to make a paste it’s then mixed with the milk, sugar and thickeners and some flavouring usually cinnamon. The result is a thick pudding that is usually shaped before serving. The chicken cannot be tasted in the dish but gives it its texture. It was invented during the Ottoman era and is a very popular dish that is still served in cafes and restaurants today.
This is the dessert is the one for any fussy eaters who are at first unsure whether to try anything more adventurous. Its the Turkish version of the western rice pudding. The ingredients of milk, rice, sugar, egg yolk and corn starch. It is all placed in a dish and put into the oven. The secret to a good sutlac is to bake it slowly and constant stirring. The dessert is extremely popular with tourists in cafes and restaurants but also a traditional family favourite. The best bit is the ‘skin’ on top of the pudding when cooked.
KADAYIF AND KUNEFE
Kadayif is the Turkish version of a dessert that is popular in the Middle East. The shredded appearance of the dessert is made from a dough ( flour and water ) that is spun on a hot plate. Its made into long noodles then shredded. The dry crispy shreds are mixed with butter, walnuts or pistachios then cooked in the oven until golden and then soaked in syrup until they are soft and sweet. Kadayif can be made into individual nests or squares to eat. If you add soft white cheese to it then it becomes Kunefe. This originated in Palestine.
An old Turkish saying is ‘ eat sweetly and speak sweetly ‘. Desserts and sweets have always been an important ingredient of Turkish cuisine. The Ottomans were probably the ones to make it popular and have certainly come up with some mouth-watering treats to try.
Written by : Rachel Labidi
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