Turkish delight, lokum for those in the know, is a sweet and soft confection traditionally offered during religious holidays, weddings and special days to guests with a special attentiveness as a sign of love and respect. It is a conversation enhancer that adds flavor to special occasions and compliments friendship especially when it is served with hot and strong Turkish coffee. Rose, mint, orange, cinnamon and vanilla are the most popular lokum flavors as well as nutty ones with double-roasted pistachio, nuts and almonds. They are a delight to the eye and the palate. And despite their sweetness, even eating more than a few will not make you thirsty. What is the secret? The answer lies in the five century-old recipe.
The oldest lokum maker in Turkey is Haci Bekir, who combined new ingredients and technology in his confectionery store in Bahcekapi (now in the Old City) in the early 19th century. The production of confectionery, in fact, dates back to the 16th century, when honey and molasses were used as sweeteners, and water and flour were the binding agents. In the late 18th century sugar produced in refineries in Europe began to appear in Turkey, it was sold in cone-shaped cups and known as ‘kelle ÅŸekeri’. Haci Bekir began using this sugar in the production of ‘akide’, granulating, melting and boiling it with the addition of natural flavours and colourings such as rose and cinnamon. With the discovery of starch by a German scientist in 1811, he favored starch instead of flour. This combination of the new ingredients of starch and sugar led to the production of the choicest of lokum.
The little hidden gem which we have uncovered in Kurucesme, aptly named as Lokum, is a specialty store that has elevated lokum-making to a whole different level. In collaboration with Divan, one of the finest confectionery makers in town, Lokum produces unique delicacies that thrill our tastebuds such as the Turkish coffee-flavored pistachio or the coconut-covered vanilla lokum with edible golden leaves on top. These unparalleled treats come in innovative packages designed by the Lokum team, who also excel in making invitations, business cards and other fine stationery items. Turkish delights are either packed separately in clear candy-style wrapping to be savored individually, or they are presented in delicate boxes that resemble jewellery cases with Istanbul and Ottoman-inspired designs. Search no more for the perfect gift to take with you from Istanbul: Lokum’s confectionery gives the ultimare sense of Turkish culture and hospitality with a modern touch.
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