Turkish Delight – An Overview

Turkish delight is a confection that consists of varied fruits (apricot, cherry, lemon, and apricot), nuts (walnuts, pistachios, and hazelnuts), spices (cinnamon, ginger, clove, and mint), and sugar that is bound together by gel and starch. Choices of flavors include, rosewater, orange, and lemon, among many others.

There are several variations on how the confection is made, but the presentation remains the same, which is being cut in small bite-sizes that are dusted with baker’s sugar to avoid sticking and other sweeteners.Turkish delight is known as lokum, a derivation from the Arabic word which means “morsel” or “mouth comfort.” It is called by many names in different countries, but it’s iconic name remains as Turkish delight.

HISTORY

Turkish Delight is a confection that dates back to more than 200 years. There are several legends on how this confection came about. First, would be its royal beginnings of a sultan wanting to please his many mistresses. He ordered the palace chefs to come up with a novel dessert, which brought about the creation of the Turkish delight. Thus, the confection came into being as a royal delicacy, which very soon became one of the most fancied dishes to have ever been concocted by the royal chefs.

Second, is that the delicacy was created by Bekir Effendi, who started his sweet shop in the late 1880’s. The confection was revolutionary at that time, as it was soft and chewy compared to the hard candies that was prevalent in the era. Soon, Turkish Delight became known for its piquant flavor and a popular gift amongst the rich and members of the royal family. The packaging comes with lace handkership and it soon became an iconic gift for lovers. The royal acceptance of Bekir Effendi’s confection, with royal courtesans lining up to buy from him, was a sign that he has arrived. Turkish Delight became a brand to reckon with up to this time. The confectionery shop still exists up today, and dishes out the best Turkish Delight that ever came out of the entire country, as claimed by many enthusiasts.

The 3rd tale, is that the Turkish Delight came into existence as a result of the rivalry amongst royal chefs. Since the chefs want to be in the good graces with the Sultan, they tried to beat each other by coming up with the most delectable dish. One chef mixed dried fruits, nuts, flavors, sugar and bound them together in cornstarch – hence, Turkish Delight was born.

C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia

Turkish Delight was given a boost when it was written about in a children’s book. In the fairy tale, the White Queen used the sweet concoctions to tempt Edmund into submission. He was told that there are a whole room full of Turkish Delights in the witch’s house. Though he was warned that she was dangerous, he still felt the urge to taste the sweet concoction again and again. Despite the Turkish Delight in the book being mentioned as magical, people still trooped to the delicatessen shops to taste the sweet confection, that drove Edmund to near perdition.

The Fabled Confection: The Turkish Delight

Ah, the Turkish Delight the sweet treat which turns into a focal point in one of the most beloved fantasy books of all time, The Lion Witch and the Wardrobe. In the book, one of the protagonist, Edmund, is seduced by the White Witch through a simple remark regarding Turkish Delights. His interest is peaked and she then tells the boy that he can have as much as he likes if he were to assist her in some evil doings.

How was it so easy for Edmund to betray his siblings, just for a taste of the coveted sweet treat? They are really that good but to learn a little more about this tasty confection, let’s take a look to find out.

Floral Flavors Abound

Turkish Delight is rather unfamiliar territory in the United States, much of that having to do with the obvious place of origin and the unique floral flavors that come from it’s taste may not be acquired by everybody. They are a delicate candy for sure, colorful but they also never quite hold up well with time. There is a flavor whose word could elude even the most literate savvy but what a flavor it is, especially if you stumble upon the right one.

The candy is made in a rather simple manner, which displays a rather simple appearance. It is concocted from the cream of tartar, corn starch, sugar, flavoring and lots of love. They differ greatly from standard jelly candies in which they contain no gelatin or pectin to gel up, it is just the mere workings of corn starch. The mixture of the ingredients are rather unstable in nature and the batch you have spoiling prematurely can easily occur.

 

Glistening in the Light

The colors of the Turkish Delight are actually quite attractive, glistening in the light. They for the most part come in a rose color but once and a while they can come in green or a lemon yellow. There are other varied flavors like raspberry, apricot, strawberry and there are even some kinds that come with nuts in the flavors of pistachios and hazelnuts. If you have ever tried to make Turkish delights you may have found the task to not be very easy, it certainly isn’t but for the many who have done it a few times, surely it can be perfected.

The scent of these candies is so amazingly aromatic, it can fill your senses like very few edibles can, it just so unique. If you could actually imagine yourself eating a rose, a violet and a honeysuckle all at once blended with sugar and starch, you may have an idea of it’s exotic flavor. That same flavor translates into the air for whichever room it bestows.The resonance that sticks with your tongue can be a wonderful aftertaste, very pleasing.

 

Something Great…

If you ever seek them out or even find yourself in the same vicinity of Turkish Delight, make haste because this candy is so worth it and so rare that even though you have no idea of what you are missing, let it be known that you are missing something great and worthwhile. Maybe not betray your family like Edmund but if a witch were to ask you a favor under different stipulations, by all means go for it.

A History Of Turkish Delight

Turkish delight is a sweet dessert made of a gel of sugar and starch. The traditional varieties of Turkish delight are mostly gel flavored with mastic, rosewater, lemon, or Bergamot orange, while the premium varieties consist of pistachios, chopped dates, walnuts or hazelnuts bound by the gel. The starch is made of flavourings, corn flour, and sugary syrup and it is sometimes stuffed with honey. Turkish delight confectionary has a soft, jelly-like consistency and it is often packaged in small cubes dusted with copra, icing sugar, or powdered cream of tartar. Other common flavours found in Turkish delight include mint and cinnamon. Soapwort may be added in the production process as an emulsifying additive.

In Turkey Turkish delight is also known as Lokum. The word Lokum is derived from the Arabic word rahat-al-hulkum’, which means contentment of the throat. This delicacy can be bought wrapped in fancy boxes or just plain and loose. The boxes make for a great gift idea. In Turkey this delicacy is traditionally served as a dessert after a meal, together with the coffee. The sweetness of Turkish delight match well with the strong Turkish coffee and counteracts the bitter taste.

History of Turkish Delight

It is believed that Turkish delight was probably invented by Arabs in around the 9th century, as a medicine for sore throats. Another variant is that the original Turkish delight was coming from Anatolia and it was made from grape syrup and honey, mixed together with water and flour.

One of the stories tells as that a Turkish Sultan who had a very large harem had his ladies getting bored and squabbling. He came up with the ingenious plan to serve them with the Turkish delight sweet so delicious that his ladies stopped arguing.

In the form known today, the Turkish delight was developed by Bekir Efendi, according to the Hacı Bekir company. Bekir Efendi moved to Istanbul and opened his confectionary shop in 1777. The Sultan gave him a Medal of Honor for creating this sweet that was enjoyed even at the Royal court. In Turkey, unsurprisingly, this delicacy is still very popular today.

Making Turkish Delight

The delicious Turkish delight is easily to make at home and does not require fancy ingredients. All you need is some corn flour, powdered gelatin, icing sugar and filling if you prefer. All the ingredients are melted in water and boiled. The hot mixture is poured into a dish and left for twenty four hours to set. Then you can cut the mixture into the traditional Turkish delight cubes and dust them in icing sugar.

Recipe

Here is one of the recipes for homemade Turkish delight.

Servings:

80-100 

Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups water 
  • 4 cups sugar 
  • 1 -10 drop red food coloring (optional) 
  • 1 1/4 cups cornstarch 
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rose water 
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar 

Directions:

  1. Line a 9 inch square pan with an oiled plastic wrap.
  2. Combine the sugar, the lemon juice, and1 1/2 cups of the water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until it boils and the sugar dissolves. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the mixture becomes a soft-ball, then remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Stir together the cream of tartar and 1 cup cornstarch in a second large saucepan over medium heat. Add in gradually the remaining 3 cups of water and stir until the mixture boils and no lumps remain in the thick, gluey paste.
  4. Slowly pour the lemon juice syrup, water, and hot sugar into the cornstarch mixture. Stir constantly, reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has become a pale golden color.
  5. Tint as desired with food coloring and stir in the rosewater. Pour the mixture and spread evenly into the prepared pan. Cool to room temperature and keep it overnight uncovered, to set.
  6. Cut the Turkish delight with an oiled knife into 1-inch squares. Roll the pieces in the sugar icing mixture in order to coat well.