The story of the creation of Turkish Delight (lokum) begins in the late 1700s, when Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, confectioner to the imperial courrt in Istanbul, listens to the sultan rant:
"Hard candy! I'm tired of hard candy!" the sultan growled as he cracked a tooth on yet another sourball. "I demand soft candy!" Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir had come to the imperial capital of Istanbul from the Anatolian mountain town of Kastamonu in the late 1700s to hear his emperor's plea. His mountain-man blood rose! His face turned grim with conviction! He set his jaw with determination! He was going to take bold and decisive action!
He marched into his confectioner's kitchen and thought up a recipe: he mixed water, sugar, corn starch, cream of tartar and rosewater, cooked it up, poured the mixture into a flat pan slicked with almond oil, and let it cool. Then he sprinkled it with powdered sugar, cut it into bite-sized chunks and...his hand trembling, his eyes bright with anticipation, his mind fraught with trepidation, his lips quivering to receive the morsel...he bit!
What? No crack of candy crunched by his mighty alpine jaws? No shower of sugary splinters scattering through his oral cavity? Why, this new confection was soft and easy to chew, a pleasure, a treat for both palate and teeth! It was... it was...a comfortable morsel!
Rahat lokum ("comfortable morsel"), nowadays
called simply lokum, or Turkish Delight, was an instant hit, especially at the
You can still buy lokum at Ali Muhiddin's shop in
Eminönü today, almost 250 years since the intrepid confectioner saved his sultan
from sourballs. It's on Hamidiye Caddesi at the corner of Seyhülislam Hayri
Efendi Caddesi, two blocks east of the Yeni Cami (New Mosque).
Lokum (Turkish Delight) is now made and sold in thousands of shops throughout Turkey, and enjoyed with Turkish tea or coffee, or just by itself. A favorite place to buy it is Afyon, where the rich local clotted cream is used to make kaymakli lokum.
You can make your own Turkish Delight at home.
Here's a recipe. When you visit a shop, don't be afraid to ask for a free
sample: say Deneyelim! (deh-neh-yeh-LEEM, "Let's try some!") (For more Turkish
words and phrases, see my Turkish Language Guide.)
5-1/2 cups water
In a saucepan, mix 4-1/2 cups water, 5 cups granulated sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice. Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes, dissolving the sugar to make syrup.
In a bowl, mix 1 cup water and 1 cup cornstarch, then blend in the cream of tartar.
Gradually blend the cornstarch mixture into the simmering syrup while vigorously stirring with a wire whisk. Stir frequently while cooking for 1-1/2 to two hours, until the mixture forms a soft ball with an internal temperature of about 235°F (113°C).
Test the mixture by dropping a small amount into ice water. It should form a ball. When picked out of the ice water and held between two fingers, it should easily flatten.
Stop cooking the mixture, and mix the nuts in well. Hazelnuts or walnuts should be broken into smaller pieces.
Pour the mixture into an eight-inch-square flat cake pan (greased) and spread it evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle two tablespoons of cornstarch on top of the mixture and let stand for at least three hours, or preferably overnight.
Mix 1/4 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar and 3/4 cup cornstarch. Grease a knife with butter and cut the Turkish Delight into squares. Lift the squares out of the pan, sprinkle with the cornstarch and sugar mixture, and place on a rack to "cure" for 12 hours. Sprinkle again with the sugar and cornstarch, and serve, or keep in a box. Do not refrigerate.
Baklava or Baklawa is a rich,
sweet pastry featured in many cuisines of the Middle East
and the Balkans, in other words, in the former Ottoman
countries. It is a pastry made of layers of phyllo dough
filled with chopped nuts, usually walnuts or pistachios and
sweetened with sugar or honey syrup.
Recipe to Make Turkish Baklava
Steps to make it :
The clarified butter: Melt a pound of butter in a saucepan over low heat until white foam appears on the surface. Skim and discard the foam. Slowly pour the clarified butter in a bowl, leaving behind and discarding the milk solids that have collected at the bottom of the pan. It will keep for a few weeks stored in a cool place. Mr. Ozan suggests using this technique as the clarified butter lacks the impurities that cause butter to burn easily and turn black.
Place the walnuts and sugar in a food processor. Process until medium to finely ground – do not grind too fine. Set aside.
Brush the inside of a 14 x 18 x 1 inch baking pan all over with a little of the clarified butter. Place one sheet of dough in the pan. With a wide pastry brush, lightly brush the dough with a little of the clarified butter. Continue layering the dough and brushing with butter until one package of dough is used.
Spread the walnuts over the dough and lightly sprinkle it with water – using a plant mister is best — to help the dough adhere to the walnuts when the next layer is added, Using the second package of filo dough, layer the dough over the walnuts, brushing each sheet with a little of the butter. Trim the pastry edges to fit neatly in the baking pan. Brush the top layer and the edges with clarified butter.
Using a sharp knife dipped in hot water, cut through the
dough halfway down the height of the pan. To make 48 pieces,
make 4 lengthwise cuts and 12 crosswise cuts.