We got a package from my parents in Turkey recently – a happy sight!-. They love spoiling us (especially the grandchildren!) and the package was full of treats; Turkish delights, pistachio nuts, Turkish coffee and many more. The Turkish delight is a special treat for my children and the real thing is not too sweet but fragrant, moist and full of flavor.
Prior to the arrival of refined sugar in the late 18th century, the Ottomans made a crude version of Turkish Delight using honey or pekmez, a concentrated grape syrup and wheat flour. Haci Bekir, a confectioner of the time, became famous due to his ingenious use of white sugar and corn starch and was summoned to Topkapi Palace to pioneer the development of what is today one of Turkey’s hallmarks. Special recipes for variations of Turkish Delight can be found in all regions of Turkey. Dried fruits, nuts, seeds and desiccated coconut are incorporated into the luscious mouthfuls of fragrant jelly. Sakiz (mastic gum) another ingredient revered by the Sultans, can be used to create a chewier version and is a must if you are preparing rolled up versions of lokum. This recipe is for sade – plain lokum, delicately flavored with fragrant rose water. However, you may wish to add shelled and chopped nuts of your choice – hazelnuts, pistachio nuts or walnuts work extremely well. I strongly suggest making it a day before serving, so that the mixture can settle down well.
My late mother-in-law, dear Penny Mum, absolutely loved Turkish Delight, and this is for her memory.
Serves 6 – 8
Preparation time – 15 minutes Cooking time – 20 minutes
450 gr / 1 lb fine white sugar
470 ml / 1 pint/ 2 cups water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons rose water
6 tablespoons corn flour / cornstarch
sifted icing sugar / confectioners sugar for dusting
Line a shallow tray or pan (8in square) with a piece of muslin and dust with a little corn flour. Combine the rose water and corn flour to make a smooth paste and set a side.
In a pan combine sugar, water and lemon juice. Bring to the boil, and over a medium heat, stir constantly, allowing the sugar to dissolve and taking care the mixture doesn’t burn.
Add a little of the hot sugar syrup to the rose water and corn flour and mix thoroughly. Remove the pan of sugar syrup from the heat, add the rose water and corn flour mix and whisk thoroughly.
Return to a medium heat, continue to stir until the mixture takes on a clearer appearance and thickens to a jelly type consistency. Remove from the heat; at this point add chopped nuts of your choice (optional).
Pour the mixture onto the prepared tray and allow to cool and set, preferably overnight.
Turn out the lokum onto a work surface well dusted with icing sugar. Remove the muslin, cut into squares, dust generously with more icing sugar and serve.