An old Turkish saying ‘’Eat sweetly and speak sweetly ‘’ signifies the love of Turks for desserts. Turkish Delights are the most significant part of Turkish cuisine. These delights date back to the 14th or 15th centuries and even today, they are equally loved by all. In Turkish language, these delights were called ‘’Rahat-ul-hulkum’’ meaning “comfort of the throat”. Now, they are commonly known as ‘’lokum’’. In Ottoman times, lokum were prepared using simple ingredients such as honey for sweetening. Today, a popular alternative is sugar. This chewy Turkish delight has many varieties. It is prepared in multiple flavors ranging from mint, lemon, strawberry, apricot, nuts (pistachio, walnut, hazelnut), and many more.
These Turkish delights are closely associated with history. In the city of Sultans, Istanbul, there was a worried Sultan. His wives were not happy with him. He ordered his servants to bring the best confectioner to his palace. When he came, the Turkish Sultan gave him the challenge of preparing a sweet dessert that can uplift the mood of his wives. The confectioner was both confused and intimidated. What should he make and present to the Sultan’s family? He prepared a new dessert and called it ‘’lokum’’ (mouthful). It was an accidental creation that the Sultan and his wives all enjoyed.
There’s more to know. In 1950, the book ‘’The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’’ was published. The story is about a boy and sister who lost their ways and got trapped in another world. The evil white witch wanted to kill the boy who was supposed to become the ruler of Narnia, her land. When he was asked what he would eat for not bringing any change to her land, the poor boy asked for Turkish delight!
Let’s see how you, the Queen of the kitchen, can prepare this traditional Turkish delight at home!
Most ingredients are located in your home. We recommend you to use organic ingredients as many ingredients are available in the market but they are chemically treated. So, it is better to visit local markets for buying ingredients rather than going to branded shops. In this way, you will get top quality and affordable organic products.
Following are the required ingredients:
- Crystallized sugar
- Fresh lemon juice
- Cream of tartar
- Organic rose water
- Powdered sugar
- Red food color
- Drinking water
In the past, Turkish delights were prepared in specially designed vessels made of clay. A fine mixture of sweetening ingredients and flour was heated continuously for two hours. When the steam started blowing, it indicated the mixture was ready to be poured into a clay tray. A hot fluid of lokum was dripped through the vessel into the tray and placed to rest for some time. When the mixture appeared to have become stable, it was cut into tiny, one-bite pieces. Later, it was sprinkled with nuts for presentation purposes. They were then stored and ready to sell in Turkish markets.
In this modern era, clay vessels have been replaced with non-stick metal utensils. The time duration of heating is also shortened due to electric ovens. The heat level is maintained by using a candy thermometer which prevents the burning of Lokum fluid by maintaining a constant temperature.
Modern Way of Making Turkish Delights
Prepare a metallic baking tray by placing butter paper inside. Grease it with a brush in order to avoid stickiness of fluid at the bottom.
Take a pre-heated saucepan. Add crystallized sugar, 1 & half cup water, and lemon juice in it. Stir it once to mix all ingredients and set on a stove on medium heat. Make sure the heat does not ruin the sugar syrup. Wait for the mixture to boil and the sugar to completely dissolve in water.
Place a candy thermometer (cooking thermometer) in the pan to monitor the temperature. When the mixture is boiling at 110°C or 230°F, stop stirring it. We are moving to another pan to heat the remaining ingredients.
You need to maintain the temperature of sugar syrup at 104 °C or 220°F to use in step 5.
Take another non-stick saucepan. Add 1 & ½ cup cornstarch. Mix 1 teaspoon tartar cream. Lastly, add 2 & 1/2 cups of water. Whisk the mixture on medium heat. Keep stirring so that a thick paste is formed.
Stir continuously to prevent the formation of lumps.
Add sugar mixture into cornstarch and tartar cream thick paste. Stir this mixture for every 5 minutes. You need to heat this on medium level for an hour to perfectly make lokum or Turkish delights.
Remove the Turkish delight mixture from the heat as soon as it becomes golden brown in color and chewy in consistency.
Add food color in 1 & ½ tablespoon of organic rosewater. This will give a beautiful color and aroma to the delights.
Pur this Turkish delight mixture into a serving platter. Keep it uncovered overnight so that it can set.
This is going to be the most exciting part where you will be checking the results of your hard work. Prepare your working station by cleaning and sprinkling sugar powder on it. Place the platter upside down on the working station. Remove the Lokum from the platter.
Take a sharp cutting knife. Oil both sides with the help of an oil brush. Once done, cut the Lokum into square, one-bite pieces. Dust each side of the square to avoid stickiness with other pieces. It is up to you how you serve Turkish delights. You can sprinkle coconut powder or pistachio over them to give an even more amazing taste. The choice is yours!
Keep knives away from the reach of kids.
Turkish delights are best when they are fresh. For their preservation, it is advised to store them in an airtight container in layers separated with butter paper or waxed paper.