While it has been around for hundreds of years, Turkish Delight didn’t actually gain its more common name until the 19th century. Originally called 'Lokum', it was only when a traveller from Britain, who fell in love with the dessert while visiting Istanbul, brought home cases to share with his friends and family that it became known as ‘Turkish Delight’.
When you think of Turkish Delight, you would generally think of the fairly common rosewater flavoured version we see in Australia. But in fact, there are actually many different variations, including lemon, pomegranate, orange, pistachio, hazelnut and cream. If you’re ever in Turkey, we think it's best to try one of everything!
When it comes to its history, there are many different accounts on the origin of this mouthwatering dessert.
The first legend goes that there was a certain Sultan with many mistresses, who believed the way to a woman’s heart was through her mouth. He demanded his chefs create a new and unique dessert which he could use to woo new mistresses. The new creation was a hit and quickly became a coveted dish in the royal household and beyond.
The other, and perhaps more likely, story tells the tale of a confectioner called Bekir Effendi. Bekir hailed from a small town in eastern Anatolia, but under the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid I in 1777, he moved to Istanbul to set up a sweet shop. In this shop Effendi made many different types of sweets, including the soft and tender Turkish Delight. Before long, people were flocking to his shop to buy this new delicacy, and it became a popular gift when wrapped in a lace handkerchief. As word spread, it also gained entry into the royal court when the Sultan became tired of the hard candies his chefs were producing. Bekir Efendi’s shop is still in business today, now being run by the fifth generation of the family.
Now that you’re no doubt in the mood for sweet treat, it would be rude not to share a recipe with you! It can be a complicated dish to make, and is best done using a sugar thermometer to ensure everything is the right temperature, but if you’re game why not give this recipe a go.