Well, we couldn’t possibly leave Istanbul without getting some Turkish delights.
Turkish delight is a family of confections made primarily on a gel of starch and sugar. There are many varieties but the premium ones consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel. Apparently, the cheapest ones are mostly flavoured rosewater, mastic, or lemon gels. The sweets are often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar to prevent them from clinging.
This famed sweet as it is known today was invented by Bekir Effendi, who moved from his hometown Kastamonu to Istanbul and opened his confectionery shop in 1776. Originally, honey and molasses were its sweeteners, and water and flour were the binding agents, with rosewater, lemon peel and bitter orange as the most common flavors (red, yellow and green).
The sweet was later introduced to Western Europe sometime in the 19th century. An unknown Briton reputedly became very fond of this sweet delicacy during his travels to Istanbul and shipped cases of this back to Britain under the name Turkish delight.
Some of these candied treats were really too sweet for our taste-buds but during our brief stay in Istanbul, I actually developed a liking for the pomegranate gel-based sweets filled with pistachios. The Man liked the nougat ones and we realised that these go so much better with a hot cuppa of Turkish tea or freshly brewed Turkish coffee than having it on its own.
Have you tried the Turkish delight? What’s your take on this sweet treat?