Turkish delight or often called as lokum is a Turkish delicacy based on a gel of starch and sugar that is coloured with food colouring. It is presented in small cubes dusted with confectioners sugar to prevent sticking together.
It is the perfect food gift to wrap up in pretty bags and give to loved ones. Turkish delight has different names in different regions. In several areas like Saudi Arabia Libya and Tunisia, it is known as ḥalqūm.
What is in a Turkish Delight?
Turkish delight consists of ingredients such as starch, refined sugar, flavouring such as rose water, and finishing. Premium varieties contain mainly of hazelnuts, pistachios, chopped dates, or walnuts bound by the gel. The traditional varieties of Turkish Delight come in various flavours such as rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon, and soapwort is usually used as an emulsifying additive.
This dish is traditionally set with starch, where it slowly thickens when heated. Nowadays most modern recipes use gelatin to speed up the process. The secret behind this step is to stir the dough in the same direction without interruption for around two hours to obtain an authentic lokum.
The other main ingredient in this dish is definitely, sugar. White sugar is customarily used, but you can replace it with grape molasses/kesmer, mush, rose or honey. Some people use glucose as a substitute, but it all depends on the budget one has for making Turkish delight.
As for the flavouring, most confectioners prefer rose water and sometimes include orange-blossom water. Vanilla and lemon juice are also added in some recipes which can supply additional protection against crystallisation when making this dish. Colouring is entirely optional, although traditionally Turkish delight is meant to be a colourful dish.
A wide range of toasted nuts is added to enhance the texture of the dish. Pistachios, hazels and pine are commonly added which contrast pleasingly with the soft lokum. The cubes are then rolled in desiccated coconut, melted chocolate, or a mixture of cornflour and icing sugar.
History of Turkish Delight
The word lokum is derived from the Arabic phrase al-halkum. In Saudi Arabia, Turkish delights are called rāḥat al-ḥulqūm which means “throat comfort”. The exact origin of the Turkish Delight remains a mystery but some believe that it is a modification of a Persian gum.
According to the company, Bekir Efendi, named Haci Bekir after carrying out the Hajj, moved to Istanbul from his hometown Kastamonu and opened his confectionery shop named Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir confectionery in the district of Bahçekapi in 1777.
Where to Find Turkish Delight in Malaysia
Turkish delight can be found in most Turkish restaurants in Malaysia. It is also available at Turkish Cafe Istanbul (Petaling Jaya) or you can have a kuih lapis version of it at Lapis Sari (Kuching).
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