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BLOG The Delights of Turkish Desserts

10 March 2021 / Food


Turkish Desserts

If you have a sweet tooth, trying new desserts and treats is part of the fun when you visit a new country. Most people are familiar with baklava and Turkish delight, but there are many other delicious puddings and snacks you should try when you come to Turkey.

Our list includes old favourites as well as some that may be unfamiliar. Look out for them in restaurants, displayed in bakery windows, or for sale from street vendors. If you have bought your dream home in Antalya and have recently moved in, your new neighbours may well bring cake or dessert as a welcome.

asure-turkey

Aşure

Also known as Noah’s pudding, aşure (ash-ur-ay) is eaten during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, to commemorate the ark’s safe landing. It is said the first aşure was made from the only foods left on the vessel, and you’ll find no two recipes are the same.

It is a mix of grains, legumes, nuts and fruits – both fresh and dried – cooked together with spices. The flavour is intense, sweet, and aromatic. Aşure is traditionally shared with family, friends, and neighbours. It is also a great pudding for those on a vegan diet, as no animal products are used.  

Baklava

Baklava (back-la-va) is synonymous with Turkey. There are many different kinds, but all feature crisp filo pastry, chopped nuts and sticky syrup.

Baklava is incredibly sweet – even the most hardened sugar addict will feel their teeth protesting after a few pieces! It is also undeniably moreish, especially served warm with a side of ice cream.

baklava-turkey

Cevizli Sucuk

Not to be confused with the meat version, cevizli sucuk (jev-iz-lee suj-uck) is an entirely different kind of sausage. Strings of walnuts are dipped into a thick mixture of grape molasses and once coated, hung to dry. The sausage-like shapes are then cut into pieces.

Sometimes different nuts are used for the filling, and even chocolate or raisins, but cevizli sucuk is always sweet and chewy.

Dondurma

Buying ice cream in Turkey is as much fun as eating it. The antics of the vendors are renowned, as they appear to serve your dondurma (don-dur-ma) and then switch cones at the last minute. It is a game that is always fascinating to watch.

The dondurma itself is creamy and delicious, with a different texture to western versions due to the ingredients – gum mastic is used in traditional dondurma. There is no end of flavours to choose from, and some are even made with goats’ milk.

turkish-ice-cream

Helva

You will find two different versions of helva (hell-va) and both are equally delicious. It’s an important part of Turkish culture, given for important events such as a first day at school, the start of military service and funerals.

Tahini helva is made with sesame seeds and sometimes has nuts mixed in. It melts in the mouth with a soft, crumbly texture. The second kind is made with semolina flour – it melts when baked and is perfect served with a large scoop of ice cream.

Kar şerbeti

Traditionally, kar şerbeti (kar sher-bet-i) is made using snow harvested from the mountains during the winter months. (‘Kar’ means ‘snow’.) It is an ice slush, very welcome during the heat of the summer months, and often sold in the markets or at roadside stalls. The slush is flavoured with fruit juices or syrups, such as cherry, lemon, grape molasses, or black mulberry.

Kazandibi

Developed in Ottoman times, kazandibi (kaz-an-dee-bee) means ‘bottom of the cauldron’ – but do not let that put you off! This caramelised milk pudding, with a characteristic burnt crust, is one of Turkey’s most popular deserts. Sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, it is rolled and cut into slices before eating.

kunefe-turkey

Künefe

Traditionally, künefe (coo-neff-eh) has two layers of shredded filo pastry, separated by a thick layer of melted cheese, and is soaked in a sugar syrup. It may sound unusual, but it tastes divine – the crunchy kadayıf (cad-ay-uf), or pastry, is always topped with finely chopped or grated pistachio and it works perfectly. Künefe should be eaten warm, ideally with ice cream or clotted cream.

Lokma and tulumba

There are various versions of sweet, deep-fried dough treats in Turkey, but you’re most likely to come across lokma (lock-ma) and tulumba (tull-um-bah). If you’ve ever eaten churros, these ae similar. You will find them in bakeries and sold by street vendors, and it’s a good idea to have some wet wipes handy as the sticky syrup they’re drenched in has a habit of dripping everywhere!

tulumba-turkey

Revani

This cake made with semolina flour and soaked in syrup is often served when guests come to your home. Revani (rev-arn-i) has a slightly coarse texture and the traditional lemon syrup might also be flavoured with rose water or ginger. After cooling, the revani is topped with desiccated coconut and finely chopped or grated pistachios before being cut into diamonds for serving.

Şekerpare

These little cakes are only small, but they are so sweet that’s not a bad thing! Şekerpare (shek-air-par-eh) are made with an almond-based dough and soaked with hot sugar syrup after baking. The texture is firm and crumbly once they cool but pop them in your mouth and they melt – leaving you with the sweet syrup flavour.

Sütlaç

This baked rice pudding dish can be flavoured with cinnamon, vanilla, raisins, or many other ingredients. In some places, you might even find a savoury version. It’s often topped with caramelised sugar and usually served in small individual bowls.

sutlac-turkey

Tavuk göğsü

Yes, we know a dessert using chicken sounds a little strange. But tavuk göğsü (tav-uck gur-soo) has been around since the time of the Ottoman sultans. It is one of Turkey’s signature dishes, and many people say they cannot detect a chicken flavour.

Tavuk göğsü is a milk pudding made with shredded chicken breast which is softened by boiling and pounded until it has a smooth consistency. It is mixed with sugar, cracked rice and often flavoured with cinnamon.

Turkish delight

Everyone is familiar with lokum (lock-um), but we could not leave it off the list. What you might not realise, if you are new to Antalya, is the sheer variety available. You will find flavours from lemon to mint to cherry to rose. Some have chopped pistachios mixed in or are rolled in desiccated coconut. Lokum is traditionally used by the Turkish people to celebrate special occasions and some restaurants will also serve it alongside coffee or when they bring your bill.

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