All About Turkish Delight
What Is Turkish Delight?
Turkish Delight is a delicious sweet that is made of cornflour, flavourings and sugary syrup that is also sometimes stuffed with dried fruit, honey and nuts. It is also known as Lokum in Turkey, and it is believed that the word Lokum derives from the Arabic ‘rahat-al-hulkum’ meaning contentment of the throat. This sweet has a soft, jelly-like consistency, and is usually served in cubes that are powdered with icing sugar.
Turkish Delight can be bought loose or wrapped in fancy boxes that make excellent gifts. It comes in many delicious flavours, but the traditional rosewater flavour is still the most popular. Other popular flavours are pistachio, lemon, mint, and hazelnut. Turkish Delight is often served after a meal with the coffee, very much in the same way as after dinner mints, as the sweetness counteracts the bitter taste of the strong Turkish coffee. It is also eaten during the day and is served as a side dish with tea or coffee.
Making Turkish Delight
Although delicious, Turkish Delight is fairly simple to make and does not require any fancy ingredients. A typical Turkish Delight recipe will involve powdered gelatine, cornflour, icing sugar and whatever filling that you would like. The ingredients are all melted together in water, boiled, poured into a dish and left to set for twenty four hours. When you are sure that the sugary mixture has set, cut it into the traditional cubes and give it a dusting of icing sugar. Homemade Turkish Delight makes a really good gift for family or friends, or why not make some to serve with the coffee at a special dinner party?
History of Turkish Delight
Unsurprisingly, Turkish Delight originated in Turkey, where is still very much one of the most popular sweets eaten. This delicious sweet has been around since the fifteenth century, and there are several stories as to how Turkish Delight was originally invented. One of the stories is that there was once a Sultan in Turkey who had a very large harem.
The ladies of the harem were always squabbling and the Sultan was getting fed up with it, so he came up with an ingenious plan. He ordered his court confectioner to come up with a sweet that was so delicious that the ladies of his harem would stop their arguing and peace would reign throughout the palace. The Sultan’s plan worked admirably and the harem ladies gorged themselves on the wonderful new Turkish Delight and ceased their bickering.
Another story about the origins of Turkish Delight is that the sweet was created by a confectioner called Bekir Effendi. Bekir was from a small town in the mountains of Anatolia and moved to Istanbul to open up a confectionery shop in 1776. Bekir was also known as Haci Bekir after he had completed his hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Bekir was a very creative sweet maker and one of the novelty sweets that he produced in his kitchen was Turkish Delight.
It is believed that this original Turkish Delight was based on an ancient Anatolian sweetmeat that was made from honey or grape syrup and mixed together with flour and water. Word spread about his amazing Turkish Delight all around Istanbul and purchasing pieces of Turkish Delight wrapped in a lace handkerchief became one of the fashionable things to do. Eventually the Sultan came to hear about the new sweet that Bekir had created and he liked it so much that he awarded Bekir a Medal of Honour and the Turkish Delight was soon being enjoyed throughout the royal court.
Bekir Effendi’s confectionery shop is still standing in Istanbul today and still selling its delicious Turkish Delight. Haci Bekir Confectionery is the oldest Turkish company still to be operating in its original location. The company has spread to become a worldwide enterprise and now has representative companies in the US, Great Britain, Japan, France, Egypt and South Africa.
Turkish Delight Goes Global
The term Turkish Delight was actually coined by a British traveller in the nineteenth century who was the first westerner to sample the confectionery and ship some home to the UK because he liked it so much. Turkish Delight soon became as popular in Europe and America as it was in Turkey and was enjoyed by some very famous people. The sticky sweet was a favourite of Pablo Picasso, and both Napoleon and Winston Churchill had a preference for Turkish Delight stuffed with pistachios.
It has also been adapted to being incorporated into chocolate bars. In the UK a slab of rosewater Turkish Delight is coated in milk chocolate to make Fry’s Turkish Delight. Fry’s Turkish Delight was first launched in 1914 when it was manufactured by J.S Fry and Sons. It is now made by Cadbury’s and has been immortalised by the advertising slogan ‘Full of Eastern Promise’. Cadbury’s also produce bars of milk chocolate covered rose Turkish Delight under the Cadbury’s Dairy Milk brand name. In the United States, Turkish Delight is the filler of the Big Turk chocolate bar.
Turkish Delight in Literature And On Stage
The most famous literary reference to Turkish Delight is in the fantasy children’s novel ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ by CS Lewis. In the novel, the young Edmund Pevensie is seduced into betraying his brother and sisters by being fed magic Turkish Delight by the evil White Witch, which almost leads the kingdom of Narnia to being locked into its icy winter forever.
The sales of Turkish Delight rose considerably after the release of the film adaptation of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ in 2005. Turkish Delight is also the theme of the song ‘Rahadlakum’ from the Broadway Musical ‘Kismet’.
So if Turkish Delight is one of your favourite sweet treats, you should be able to buy it in a store near you. If not, there is a wide range of Turkish Delight that can be bought online. Or if you have a friend or family member who is travelling to Turkey, why not ask them to bring you some back from the country where the recipe was born?
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