Ancient communities in Anatolia, Persia, and India used honey to make sweets and desserts in ancient times. Processed sugar and sugar made from sugar cane is a new technology in the Middle East. Dried fruit and nut-based sweets were very popular in the ancient imperial kitchens. Turkish delight is the most popular of them which can be found in different forms and names in the whole world at present. There is even a chocolate-coated confection named The Big Turk produced in Canada by Nestle. Today, Turkish delight is one of the most popular gifts tourists bring back home from Turkey to their families and friends.
Turkish delight is simply based on a gel made with starch and sugar. The most popular and preferred one in the domestic market is the double roasted Turkish delights with whole pistachios or hazelnuts. The most traditional Turkish delight is made from the world-famous fragrant pink rose that is heavily cultivated in the southwestern highlands. Isparta city is the capital of that rose and various shops located in and around the city. You will never miss one of them if you are visiting Sagalassos Ancient City or you are on a self-drive tour around Antalya. The origins of the Turkish delight-like confections are not known. Turkish delights are called lokum in the Turkish language. Al-lukum stands for the throat in Arabic and Turkish delights are called rahat al-hulkum which means throat comfort. Considering the fact that Turkish delights are mainly served with Turkish coffee or with cologne upon arrival to someone’s house, Arabic name sounds very logical.
The first traces of Turkish Delight in the Ottoman era goes back to 1777 when Hadji Bekir opened his confection shop in Istanbul. Today, the 5th generation of Hadji Bekir is on duty and still sells one of the best varieties of Turkish delights. Like Turkish coffee, Turkish delight was transported by the Ottomans to Europe and the Mediterranean regions. Today, similar sweets are called or produced the same way in different parts of the world. Rosewater, mastic gum, or soapwort were the main characters in the Turkish delight in the past but today, almost all types of fruits and nuts are used in the making of these world-famous sweets. A tour in the Spice Market in Istanbul is not only an experience to the mouth but to your eyes as well thanks to the various colors of the delights. For me, the most impressive type of Turkish delight is the one filled with buffalo milk cream. I love the saffron-flavored delights as well as the double roasted pistachio-filled sweets. Rose petals, pistachio crumbs, or dried fruits such as apricots are embellishing the delicious Turkish delight giving it an impressive appearance before you comfort your throat.
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