Turkey

Dish

Lokum or Turkish Delight as we know it is a sweet that originated in Turkey in the 1700's. The gummy, sugarcoated candy was invented in 1777 by famous confectioner Bekir Effendi (known as Haci Bekir after the Muslim hajj pilgrimage). Haci Bekir owned a candy shop in the Bahcekapi district of Istanbul. Amazingly Haci Bekir’s shop is still open today in the exact same location. Run by his descendents, Haci Bekir Confectioners is in its fifth generation. It is the oldest company in Turkey to operate from its original location. The ingredients are melted together, boiled, then poured in a pan and allowed to cool. Lokum has a soft, gelatin-like texture, sometimes with chopped nuts inside, and is its flavoring is very subtle and fragrant. It is cut into bite-sized cubes and covered with confectioners’ sugar. Through the years the original recipe for Lokum has changed very little. Lokum became extremely popular among Turks and soon Haci Bekir was appointed chief confectioner for the Ottoman Court and awarded a medal of honor by the Sultan.

Ingredients

  • 1 l water
  • 300 g sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100 g cornflour
  • 1 tbsp frozen raspberries
  • 1.5 tbsp rose water
  • icing sugar (very little) and cornflour (lots) to dust.

Method

You will need a sugar thermometer for this recipe.
  1. In a pot put half of the water (500 ml) with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to the boil.
  2. Boil it down until you get a light syrup (here those with the sugar thermometer will go to about 240 degrees, just wait for the mixture to thicken a little).
  3. In another pot mix the remaining water with the cornflour, then bring to the boil and simmer, stirring, until the mixture thickens. Add the hot sugar syrup and stir well.
  4. Now let the pot simmer, without stirring, for at least 30 minutes. More would be good, if you are patient, 45 minutes to one hour is more like the shops do it, but in a home kitchen looking at a bubbling mixture is a little worrying.
  5. Still, the more you cook it the harder your Turkish Delights.
  6. At the end add a tbsp of rose water, and to colour it, since I try not to use artificial colouring, a few raspberries. The berries will 'melt' in the hot mixture and the little seeds are quite pretty, I think. If you don't like the seeds, just pass the berries through a sieve, and add the juice only.
  7. Pour the hot mixture into a square or rectangular tupperware or similar plastic container (easy to detach the solid block after it sets) and let it cool down and set overnight.
  8. The day after tip out your 'candy' block and cut into pieces. I now understand why when you buy lokum it is full of white powder: it takes lots of cornflour to keep it!
  9. To dust it I use a mixture of cornflour and a little icing sugar: if you use too much icing sugar the sweet may 'sweat' and become all sticky! if your sweets seems too 'wet' after cutting them, place them on a oven tray and bake them at 50 on fan for a little to dry. Store them in layers divided with greaseproof paper, and dust regularly with a mixture of cornflour and icing sugar to keep them dry.
  10. Eat within a few days.