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. 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.
Turkish Delight Recipe
- 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.