Turkish Delight- The Best Guide Answering All FAQs

Turkish Delight- The Best Guide Answering All FAQs

Turkish Delight- Introduction

After recently publishing Turkish coffee, we wanted to talk about Turkish delight since you can’t think the Turkish coffee w/o this yummy delight.

As you know, Turkish culture and Turkish kitchen have a deep history. Lokum (in Turkish) is always one of the key actors in this culture and becoming more popular day by day.

Let’s start with its importance in this intensive culture.

Lokum in Turkish culture

Lokum or Turkish delight is at the center of life in Turkey. It is sometimes served with Turkish coffee to make a good combination and it is sometimes served in the eid. Serving this small yummy dessert is a way to show people hospitality, love, kindness, and latitude. So, this is served during family visits, eid, celebrations, Islamic praying events (called mevlit in Turkish) and ceremonies.

That is why we are saying that it is at the center of daily life. Because people consume this dessert both in sad and happy times.

Lokum with Turkish coffee
Turkish Delight and Turkish Coffee

Where does Turkish Delight come from?- A short history of Lokum

Lokum or Turkish delight is inherited from kitchens of the Anatolian Seljuk Empire and the Ottoman Empire. It is mostly thought that lokum comes from “Rahat-ul hukum” which means relieving throat. So, people in Anatolia are in love with dessert from the 15th century. In the beginning, honey and pekmez (concentrated grape syrup) were used as sweeteners and flour was used as a stabilizer.

According to many resources, the inventor of the delight has been pointed as Sekercibasi Muhittin Haci Bekir Efendi. So, traditional Turkish delight is identified with “Haci Bekir Turkish Delight”. The reason is that Haci Bekir Efendi made the lokum by a new technique. He used starch and refined sugar to make the delight which is the current condition of lokum.

In the 18the century, it was brought by an English tourist to Europe and then described as “Turkish dessert” and “Turkish delight”. Europeans, especially English people liked it very much. And, it is expanded to the world quickly.

What is called “Turkish Delight” in different languages?

Turkish Delight in Different Languages

What is Turkish Delight?

As a simple definition, it is a jelly-like confection. It is mainly made from corn starch and sugar. Moreover, there is a communique about Turkish delight in Turkish Food Codex. In general, there are some standards about Turkish delight.

According to the Turkish delight communique;

“Lokum refers to the product prepared in accordance with its technique with supplementing of spicy ingredients if necessary to the lokum mass prepared by mixing sugar, starch, citric acid or tartaric acid or potassium bitartrate.”

According to Turkish delight communique Annex 1: The total sugar amount must be min %75 per mass and moisture must be maxed %16 per mass and the Saponaria amount in Sultan Lokum must be maxed %0.1 per mass. As shown, there are some legal regulations for the Turkish delight quality. Unfortunately, unpackaged products can be manipulated. That is why we mostly prefer reliable brands or shops.

Turkish Delight- ingredients
Turkish Delight- Ingredients

Types of Turkish Delight

You can find hundreds of different Turkish delights in the shops in Istanbul and Turkey. So, let’s see the most popular types.

  • Cherry, strawberry, orange, peach, lemon, kiwi, fruit mix
  • Cinnamon, ginger, clove
  • Sultan, Safranbolu, Afyon creamed
  • Sultan, Safranbolu, clotted Afyon (a city in Turkey) creamed
  • Rose, gum mastic, nut, peanut, walnut, almond, coconut & almond, cream
  • Coffee, mint, persimmon, bilberry, pistachio, pomegranate, Zeresk (the grape grown in Iran), chocolate

Note: You should definitely try Afyon clotted creamed, Sultan and Safranbolu Turkish delights. Moreover, people also like chocolate-covered ones. In these days, “Zeresk grape covered and pomegranate aromatized Turkish delights are very popular. This is a great combination of sour and sweet. One of our favorites is with orange aroma and nut particles, as well.

Moreover, please let us know if you try any of them and your favorite thru an e-mail 🙂

Some special Lokum types

Some special lokum types are also defined in Turkish Food Codex Communique.

Lokum with Kaymak (Clotted Creamed Lokum): It should include cream. As an example, Afyon clotted cream lokum is a type of this category.

Sultan Lokum: It includes Saponaria which blanches the lokum.

Bologna type Lokum: It is a bar-shaped delight. And, it can contain dried fruits and nuts.

Plain Lokum: It is a standard type of Turkish delight having no ingredients such as fruits, cream, spice, etc.

Additionally, Afyon clotted cream Turkish delight should have min. 10% Afyon cream and other types of clotted cream Turkish delights should have min. 8% clotted cream per mass.

Turkish Delight with geographical indication

Basically, geographical indication refers to the originated region or a method that is specific to a region.

For instance, Safranbolu is well known about Turkish delight and different house types. Formally, Safranbolu Lokum is geographically indicated. As expected, this delight contains “saffron” which makes this delight different and famous. Ottomans used saffron for a lot of foods like Turkish delight and they gave extra importance to saffron. And there are different types of Safranbolu Turkish delight with or w/o saffron.

Additionally, we would definitely recommend a visit to Safranbolu if you have enough time in Turkey. You will not regret 😉

Basic flow chart of Turkish Delight production

Turkish Delight- Flow chart

How to make Turkish Delight at home? (Turkish Delight recipe)

Turkish delight with lemon recipe

Preparation

  1. Pour two water glass sugars to a steel cooker.
  2. And then, add ¾ (0.75) water glass water to the same steel cooker.
  3. Add salt of lemon with a teaspoon (less than half of the spoon). Note: lemon naturally contains citric acid.
  4. Boil it till sugar fully dissolves. You should stir it till boiling.
  5. Reduce the heat and leave the cooker as-is.
  6. At the same time, mix ¾ water glass starch with half glass of water and stir it.
  7. When the syrup bubbles and gets texture, you can take one ladle syrup and add it to the cold starch-water mix. The aim is to get the starch-water mix warmer.
  8. Pour the warm starch-water mixture to the cooker and keep on stirring during pouring. Note: If it is difficult for you, you may prepare a starch-water mix hot like sugar syrup. After boiling off the starch-water mixture, pour on the syrup slowly. This is the other way.
  9. Add the grated lemon peel and half lemon’s water. Note: At this step, you can add any flavor you want such as orange juice, rose juice or pomegranate juice.
  10. Cook the mixture over medium heat till seeing it like wax texture. Keep on stirring slowly.
  11. Add some nuts after you get the wax texture and finish cooking. Note: At this step, you can add whatever you want as nuts and spices. It depends on your imagination.
  12. Put a baking paper on a square or rectangular glass container.  Spread oil to the edges of paper and glass to prevent stick on it. Pour the mixture on it.

Post-process

  1. Wait a night until it cools down. After cooling, you can take it out easily. Don’t try to take it before cooling.
  2. Dust powder sugar on a tray. And then, put the delight on the powder sugar. Cover all the surfaces. Note: You can use coconut as well instead of powder sugar.
  3. Cut them cubical with a pizza knife or knife.
  4. Put the small pieces on the powder sugar once again. Moreover, you can use coconut as well.

BON APPETITE!!!

Important note: It is not an easy task to make Turkish delight at home. So, a small mistake can ruin everything. But, if you are ambitious to make it at home, you should practice a lot to find the best texture.

We believe everything homemade is better. But Turkish delight is a difficult product and even many brands can’t produce it in good texture. And, we think that some brands are masters. However, it is really difficult to find this quality everywhere.

Quality of Lokum

Basically, the most important quality parameters are softness and elasticity. Additionally, lokum should not be too hard and too soft. Another important point is chewiness. So, it should not be sticky or hard.

Storage of Lokum

The storage of lokum is important. Firstly, keep it away from the sunlight and store it cool and dry environment. Especially, the wrong conditions can be harmful to sensory quality.

You can store it with closing to air under 20 °C. On the other hand, if it has cream or nut, you can store it in the refrigerator (4-8 °C). And, if the climate is too hot, you should consider to store it in the refrigerator. Before consuming, take it out of the refrigerator and wait 10-20 minutes to make texture appropriate for consuming.

Deterioration of Lokum

There is no expected microbial deterioration for plain delight due to its low water activity. On the other hand, this may happen for creamed delight or delight with nuts. So, the addition of nut or cream can affect the shelf life.  Rarely, mold or bacterial growth can be observed for these delights. The reason is generally to store the delight at inappropriate temperature conditions.

Moreover, if the delight is open to the air, its surface gets moisture and gets sticky or dry depending on the environment. So, it should be carefully stored in a package or jar close to the air.

The shelf life of Turkish Delight

Before buying, you should check the date of expiry. If the package is closed, you can store it till the expiration date. Furthermore, please read the info below to learn what to do after opening.

If you buy a plain delight, you can store it for roughly 6 months. However, this period depends on its content. Especially, cream and nut content can reduce the shelf life. If you buy a clotted creamed one, you should consume in 3 days. If it contains only nut, not clotted cream, this can extend to 1 week.

Nutritive value of Turkish Delight

We will provide an example to show you the calorie. Please note that this can vary dependant on the product. Simply, it has a high calorie. But don’t forget one piece is enough to serve it.

Calorie of Turkish delight
Calorie of a type of Turkish Delight

Is it healthy?

Turkish delight is very popular in Turkish culture. For instance, Turkish coffee with lokum is a fantastic combination. It is a tradition, a warm welcome or to show honor to somebody. So, it is more than food or sweets in this tradition.

One thing is important here if you consume it correctly (like a piece with coffee), it won’t harm you. And, this is the way in our culture.

Like every food, the more is unhealthy and your body will convert it to fat. So, consuming more delight means gaining weight like other desserts. It has a minimum of 80% sucrose. As you know, consuming refined sugar is not a really good way to take sugar. The healthy way is to consume natural sugar directly from the foods.

What to check when you buy Turkish Delight?

  • Don’t buy if it contains glucose syrup. There are some delights made from fructose. Do not prefer them either.
  • Don’t buy if it contains food dye.
  • Prefer packaged products or reliable shops.
  • A must-do: Check the expiration date.
  • If you plan to bring them to your country (we are sure you’ll do :)), try to buy vacuumed delights and prefer w/o creamed ones.

Does the delight have gelatin?

As you know gelatin is a type of protein obtained from animals such as cattle, pigs and fishes. So, this protein does gelatinization. It is mainly used in jellies, marshmallows, sweets, yogurts, puddings, and cakes.

Muslims generally don’t consume products obtained from pigs. If the gelatin comes from a pig, this food can not be categorized as ‘halal’. Moreover, it is also not suitable for vegans because it is made from animal parts whether it is a pig or other animals.

Generally, gelatin is not used in Turkish delights produced in Turkey. But, you can see that other countries, especially in Balkans and Europe, use gelatin to produce delight or other jellies. We haven’t seen gelatin in Turkish delight in Turkey so far.  However, the ingredients of food should be checked before buying them. You can see the complete content in the “Ingredients” section on the package.

How much is Turkish Delight in Turkey?

We have just recently bought from a trustable brand and the kilogram price is between 100-150 TL (2019, September). But, you can see the price of 15 TL per kilograms as well. There are many delights having different qualities as you will see.

Our 1st criterion is hygiene and then taste is the 2nd criterion. Considering both parameters, the cheapest ones are mostly not pleasing.

Where to buy Turkish Delight in Istanbul?

So, here are the brands we would recommend:

Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir: I think it is the best choice in Istanbul. You can find it in Taksim or Kadikoy.

Hakki Zade: You may find here fresh and packaged ones. They have many different types. And it is also hygienic.

Koska: Koska is one of the most reliable brands in Turkey in the food market. You may find their shops in different locations such as Taksim. Also, you find their products in big supermarkets or shopping centers.

Turkish delight- Koska brand
Koska Turkish Delight

Spice Bazaar: Please be careful about hygiene! You can find famous brands in different shops. You may prefer Koska (packaged) here.

Kadikoy Sekerci Caferzade: This shop is one of the oldest shops in Kadikoy. So they are reliable and have a reputation. Many locals prefer them as well. It is a small and nice local shop.

Sekerci Caferzade- Turkish delights
Turkish Delights in Sekerci Caferzade

Afyon Lokum Atolyesi: They are pretty good. And, you can find this atelier in the malls as follows.

  • Hilltown Shopping Center
  • Maltepe Avm
  • Marmara Park Avm
  • Mall of Avm
  • Istanbul Cevahir Avm

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Turkish Delight made of?

As mentioned above, the ingredients of Turkish delight are starch, water, citric acid, tartaric acid, and different flavors.

Is Turkish Delight gluten-free?

Real Turkish delight is made from corn starch that is why it is naturally gluten-free. But there are hundreds of types. Please buy packaged ones and be sure of their content.

Is Turkish delight vegan?

This really depends on the type. As you know there are various delights. Mainly, plain and fruit or nut dominant delights are vegans. So, they consist of starch and sugar. But, some of them like Afyon clotted cream Turkish delight is not vegan. And, check the gelatin content. So, it is important to buy packaged ones and to be sure about its content.

Is Turkish Delight dairy-free?

It doesn’t have anything regarding milk. But, there are some exceptions. For instance, Afyon clotted creamed contains “kaymak” is produced from milk. Please check the ingredients.

Is Turkish Delight halal?

Normally, yes, it is. Turkish Delight is made from corn starch, not gelatin in Turkey. But some countries, especially in Europe, use gelatin from pig instead of starch. Please check the ingredients.

Can diabetics eat Turkish Delight?

Natural Turkish delight has a high amount of sugar. But you can find diabetic Turkish Delight in some brands. For example, the famous brand “Koska” produces this type.

Can you store Turkish Delight in the fridge?

Yes, you can. Especially, it can be a good way for clotted cream type if you can’t consume it in a short time.

Can you eat Turkish Delight when pregnant?

Please ask this question to your doctor. As expected, it changes based on your condition. If you don’t have any health problems, no worries.

Can I take Turkish Delight in hand luggage?

Yes, you can. There is no restriction about it.

What does Turkish Delight taste like?

Turkish delight is a jelly-like confection. And, it has different flavors according to aromas in it. So, taste depends on the product.

Bonus: Turkish Delight in Narnia

If you watched or read the Narnia “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe“, you would remember the conversation between the snow queen and Edmund. You know, this sweet is Edmund’s favorite and offered by the White Witch.

Poor Edmund wanted to eat more and more. And, the queen was able to get information about Edmund’s siblings and requested to bring his siblings to her once they get to Narnia.

Turkish Delight is getting more popular thanks to The Chronicles of Narnia 🙂

Conclusion

It looks like you also like history, nostalgy, different cultures and traditions like us since you read this post and a historical taste like Turkish delight means a lot for you.

Moreover, it means hospitality, dearness, and respect. As you know, it has a long history starting from the 15th century, but we believe that these sets of values made it popular rather than its taste.

One more thing, don’t skip Turkish coffee 🙂 Because, you can’t think Turkish delight apart from Turkish coffee.

Let’s finish this post with a famous Turkish quote to show you the importance of sweets.

“Eat sweet and talk sweet”

References

  • Batu, A., Kırmacı, B. (2006). Lokum Uretimi ve Sorunlari. Gida Teknolojileri Elektronik Dergisi, 3, 37-49.
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