What is Turkish Delight?

17 May 2022

Food + Drink

Learn all about the traditional Turkish confection

Have you been lucky enough to visit a market or bazaar in Turkey? If so, we’re sure you’ll have noticed the bountiful stalls brimming with traditional sweets. From Halka Tatlisi and Lokma to Baklava and Turkish delight, there’s a whole culinary world to discover in Turkey’s street stalls.

While Turkish cuisine offers a fabulous variety of confectionery and desserts, one of our favourites has to be Turkish delight (or Lokum). This squishy, sticky sweet is known for its variety of flavours — from rosewater to citrus — and its dense, jelly-like texture. Typically coated in a light sugar dusting, it’s the perfect midday pick-me-up or post-dinner dessert.

If you ever find yourself on the lookout for Turkish delight, keep your eyes peeled for piles of brightly-coloured cubes! Can’t get to Turkey? Don’t worry, we have a delectable Turkish Delight offering ourselves.

Lokum beside a Turkish coffee cup

What does Turkish delight taste like?

This traditional treat comes in a huge variety of delicious flavours. Whether you adore pomegranate, pistachio, or mint, you can get your hands on a wonderful range of fruit, nut, and herb-based aromas.

The most popular flavour is rosewater. And that’s why we chose to incorporate this traditional ingredient into our own version.

What’s in Turkish delight?

Traditional Turkish delight consists of a sugary starch mixture, with a few flavour-specific additions, such as lemon juice or orange zest, to give each variety its unique taste.

Similarly, our Turkish delight is based on a simple sugar, water, and corn starch recipe, with a touch of rosewater, lemon flavour and natural colours.

Some families have their own secret recipes, with additional ingredients ranging from chopped nuts to soapwort extract.

You can really get creative when making your own homemade Turkish delight. There’s an endless variety of flavours. And perhaps this goes some way in explaining why people still love this ancient dessert.

Due to its simple ingredients, the basic Turkish delight recipe has remained relatively unchanged since its invention over 500 years ago.

Closeup: pink Turkish delight

The history of Turkish delight

The history of Turkish delight is associated with one rather special shop in Turkey — Haci Bekir. Opened in 1777 by the confectioner Haci Bekir Effendi, the shop is credited with inventing lokum as we know it and making it the most popular candy in the country.

Treats similar to Turkish delight were around before Haci Bekir. But then cornstarch arrived on the scene. It was Bekir Effendi’s idea to amend his original recipe to include cornstarch that really changed the game. By replacing the typical flour component with cornstarch, he created the distinct chewiness that we know and love today.

Haci Bekir soon gained a worldwide reputation for their delectable lokum. Word even reached the Ottoman Palace. Here, Sultan Mahmud II (ruler at the time) appointed Bekir Effendi chief confectioner to the palace. 

The Haci Bekir shop has passed from one generation to the next and it’s still around today. If you’re ever in Istanbul, you can stop by one of their multiple shops!

While some historians dispute this story about the invention of Turkish delight, the Haci Bekir shop obviously played an important role in the development and legacy of this infamous confectionary.

Similar Arab and Persian recipes have also existed for centuries, demonstrating the rich history and widespread popularity of this simple dessert. Different types of Turkish delight are produced and enjoyed in countries around the world, such as Bulgaria (lokum), Greece (loukoumi), Romania and Moldova (rahat), and Albania (rahat-lokum).

How to enjoy it

Traditionally, people enjoy the gooey confection in moderation and on special occasions. As it’s very sweet, one or two cubes will be more than enough to serve alongside a cup of tea or coffee

It’s a nice idea to keep a box of Turkish delight in the cupboard ready to offer to visitors. As it’s a simple jelly-like sweet, it’s pleasing to most people’s tastes. Plus, it’s always exciting to offer friends and family something they may not have tried before.

Just like you might enjoy a luxury biscuit with a hot chocolate or a chocolate truffle with a cappuccino, the gooey sweet makes a delectable afternoon tea companion. If you have some time on your hands, why not try making a traditional Turkish coffee to enjoy it with? 

Two cubes of Turkish Delight beside a Turkish coffee

Does Turkish delight make a good gift?

In our opinion — yes! Turkish delight is a wonderful gift that any confectionery enthusiast will appreciate. It’s also a great alternative to chocolate if your giftee doesn’t have the taste buds for cacao. Perfect for popping in the post if you can’t be there in person, you can’t go wrong with a neatly wrapped tray of luxurious Turkish delight.

Just make sure you choose a high-quality batch so your giftee can experience this wonderful treat as it’s meant to taste.

Our Turkish delight

Our rose and lemon Turkish Delight is made in Turkey from time-honoured recipes. Just like our high-cacao, ethical chocolate, we wanted our Turkish treat to be as authentic, decadent and high quality as possible.

While fragrant rose brings an instantly recognisable, aromatic flavour, zesty lemon lifts the palate with a touch of sweet citrus. We adore the sweet, bright flavours in these bites. They’re perfect for enjoying as a sugary treat alongside an aromatic coffee or hot chocolate.

It’s so irresistible, you’ll really have to try not to eat it all in one sitting. Luckily, these beautiful bites are ideal for sharing with family and friends. This traditional dessert is tucked up inside a keepsake wooden box, making it perfectly presented for gifting to your loved ones. It’s also suitable for vegans, so even those who are dairy-free can sample this fabulous treat.

Why not try it and let us know what you think? Tweet us @HotelChocolat on Twitter.