Turkish Delight – Lokum

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Turkish delight or lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar.

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are mostly gel, generally flavoured with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar, to prevent clinging. Other common flavours include cinnamon and mint. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive.


According to the Haci Bekir company, the sweet as it is known today was invented by Bekir Effendi, named Haci Bekir after performing the hajj. He moved to Istanbul from his hometown Kastamonu and opened his confectionery shop in the district of Bahçekapi in 1777. The company still operates under the founder’s name.

Ottoman confectionary was originally sweetened with honey and molasses, using water and flour as the binding agents, with rosewater, lemon peel and bitter orange as the most common flavours (red, yellow and green). Haci Bekir introduced the use of glucose in 1811, shortly after it had been discovered by Gottlieb Kirchhoff.

Lokum was introduced to Western Europe in the 19th century. An unknown Briton reputedly became very fond of the delicacy during his travels to Istanbul and purchased cases of it, to be shipped back to Britain under the name Turkish delight. It became a major delicacy in Britain and throughout Continental Europe for high class society. During this time, it became a practice among upper class socialites to exchange pieces of Turkish delight wrapped in silk handkerchiefs as presents.


The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) and its plural luqūm meaning “morsel” and “mouthful” and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm, was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm, meaning “comfort of the throat”, which remains the name in formal Arabic. In Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia it is known as ḥalqūm, while in Kuwait it is called كبده الفرس “kabdat alfaras” and in Egypt it is called malban (ملبن [ˈmælbæn]) or ʕagameyya and in Syria rāḥa. Its name in various Eastern European languages comes from Ottoman Turkish lokum or rahat-ul hulküm. Its name in Greek, λουκούμι (loukoumi) shares a similar etymology with the modern Turkish and it is marketed as Greek Delight. In Cyprus, where the dessert has protected geographical indication (PGI), it is also marketed as Cyprus Delight. In Armenian it is called lokhum (լոխում). Its name in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel is rahat lokum, and derives from a very old confusion of the two Ottoman Turkish names found already in Ottoman Turkish; indeed this mixed name can also be found in Turkey today. Its name in Serbo-Croatian is ratluk, a reduced form of the same name. In Persian, it is called rāhat-ol-holqum (Persian: راحت الحلقوم‎).

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as Lumps of Delight.

International Variations

In Greece, Turkish Delight, known as loukoumi [λουκούμι] has been a very popular delicacy since the 19th century, famously produced in the city of Patras, Patrina loukoumia, as well as on the island of Syros and the northern Greek cities Thessaloniki, Serres and Komotini but elsewhere as well. Loukoumi is a common traditional treat, routinely served instead of biscuits along with coffee. In addition to the common rosewater and bergamot varieties, Mastic-flavored loukoumi is available and very popular. Another sweet, similar to loukoumi, that is made exclusively in the town of Serres, is Akanés.
The Romanian word to describe this confection is rahat, an abbreviation of the Arabic rahat ul-holkum. However, in the Romanian language, the word rahat took a pejorative sense, in this case a euphemism that translates as shit. According to linguist Lazar Saineanu, Turkish words which entered the Romanian language in the seventeenth century and eighteenth century became mostly obsolete and acquired a pejorative or ironic sense. Politically and socially, this weakened the influence of Ottoman society, and parts of the Ottoman Turkish language which had not had time to take root in the Romanian language took a touch of irony and became a mine for humorous literature.

Rahat is eaten as is or is added in many Romanian cakes called cornulete, cozonac or salam de biscuiti. Traditionally in Romania and the Balkans, the rahat is generally served with coffee.

North America
Nestle Big Turk Turkish Delight Bar - Canadian

Turkish delight also forms the basic foundation of the Big Turk chocolate bar (distributed by Nestlé in Canada).

In 1930 two Armenian immigrants, Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban, founded Liberty Orchards of Cashmere, Washington, and began manufacturing “Aplets” (apple and walnut locoum) and “Cotlets” (apricot and walnut locoum). In 1984 they added the medley-flavoured “Fruit Delights” line in strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple assortments. Although all of these confections are marketed under American-style brand names, they are referred to on product packaging as “Rahat Locoum.”

Since 2012, the company has also marketed a line of confections with special packaging under the name “Turkish Delights,” which includes traditional Middle Eastern flavours such as rose-pistachio, orange-blossom-walnut, mint, and rose-lemon. Liberty Orchard products are sold in national chain stores and via the internet.

Chuckles, produced by Farley’s & Sathers Candy Company, Inc., are jelly candies coated with a light layer of sugar, though it is a crystalline coating rather than the powder usually associated with Turkish delight.

Since 1964, the Nory Candy company of California has been producing their traditional “Rahat Locum” in rosewater, mint, orange, pomegranate, and licorice flavours as well as pistachio and hazelnut versions of Turkish delight.

The confection is known in Brazil as Manjar Turco, Delícia Turca, Bala de Goma Síria or Bala de Goma Árabe. As with most Middle Eastern dishes, it came with the Levantine Arab diaspora to Latin America.

Britain and Commonwealth
Fry's Turkish Delight

Fry’s Turkish Delight

Fry’s Turkish Delight is marketed by Cadbury in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa and can also be found in Canada and New Zealand, which is rosewater flavoured, and covered on all sides in milk chocolate. UK production controversially moved to Poland in 2010.


Turkish Delight Recipe

Lokum - Turkish Delight

Turkish delight or lokum is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are mostly gel, generally flavoured with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon.
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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Course: Confectionery
Cuisine: Turkish
Servings: 20
Calories: 4466kcal
Author: The Cook


  • 4 cups caster sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons , juice only of lemon
  • 1 cup cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 3 tablespoons gelatine powder
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons rosewater essence
  • a few drops of red food colouring
  • 2 cups icing sugar mixture


  • Lightly oil or spray a 20 x 25cm baking tin and line with baking paper <em>(allow some of the paper to hang over the sides).</em>
  • In a large saucepan, add the sugar and 2 cups of water, then stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Increase the temperature to a medium heat and cook for about 25 minutes or until a candy thermometer reaches 125°C. <em>( use a water-dampened pastry brush to occasionally brush down the sides of the cooking pot)</em>.
  • In the meantime place the cornflour, cream of tartar, and gelatine into a large saucepan. Form a paste by whisking in a little bit of the remaining water.
  • Whisk in the remaining water and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens <em>(about 4-5 minutes)</em>
  • Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the gelatine/cornflour mixture, constantly whisking to prevent lumping. <em>(Remove lumps by pouring through a fine sieve into another saucepan if necessary)</em>.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer, occasionally stirring (to prevent sticking to the base), for about an hour or until the mixture is a light golden colour and a candy thermometer registers 110°C.
  • Now add the rosewater and a few drops of the food colouring and stir until well mixed through.
  • Pour the mixture into the paper-lined baking tin and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 3 - 4 hours until firm. <em>( if you can resist the temptation, leave it overnight)</em>
  • When set turn out the Turkish Delight and slice into squares ( 3 - 4 cm is a good size) and thoroughly coat with the icing sugar mixture.
  • Store in an airtight container, between layers of greaseproof paper.


Serving: 0g | Calories: 4466kcal | Carbohydrates: 1133g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 65mg | Potassium: 0mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 1035g | Vitamin A: 0IU | Vitamin C: 0mg | Calcium: 0mg | Iron: 0mg
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