An old Turkish saying offers: ‘Tatlı yiyelim tatlı konuşalım’ meaning ‘let’s eat sweets so we can talk sweet’. Indeed, eating sweets is a vital part of Turkish culture. With the vast choice of sweets ranging from baked pastries, Turkish delights and the Muhallebi family, desserts have become a whole culture on their own. Very often desserts contain information about the season of the year, as many of them are important attributes of religious occasions or festive times.
As Turkish sweets are famous around the world, you have probably tasted or heard of at least one from the luscious list below. But don’t stop, scroll down and look for a new one to try, an unknown-to-your-pallet mouthwatering treat.
This sweet cheese pastry is considered to be one of the most popular desserts in the country, especially in Antakya, Southern Turkey. Although you can easily get Kunefe in all big cities, Hatay is the only region that produces the special cheese needed to create this dessert and, as a consquence, they also produce the best Kunefe. You can choose to eat Kunefe with cream or ice cream, but the fact is: the amazing combination of kadayif dough, syrup and cheese is delightful with either. The secret of a good Kunefe is a balanced proportion of three components: too much cheese will destroy the taste, as will excess of the dough or the syrup. Enjoy it hot to get the best experience: gooeyness of the cheese, fruitiness of the syrup and the unusual flakiness of the pastry.
2. Asure – Noah’s Pudding
According to a legend, Noah made this famous Turkish dessert with whatever ingredients he had left on the ark. Furthermore, Asure is eaten on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharrem and is commonly shared with friends and neighbours, which gives it both a religious and community use. Although the dessert may vary depending on the region of the country, the basic ingredients include sugar, wheat, chickpeas and a bunch of dried fruits. This mix creates magic aromas complimented with the ascending scent of rose water which makes this dessert simply impossible to resist.
Gullac, also known as the queen of all Ramadan desserts, can be found on all iftar tables in Turkey during this religious month. Although the dessert is very simple to prepare, the few ingredients – gullac sheets, milk, nuts, sugar and rose water – work in delicious harmony. This rose scented taste of heaven carries a lot of tradition and history, like many other Turkish sweets. If you happen to be in Turkey during Ramadan, discover the sweet, but light flavour of the Gullac. This will be a perfect ending to your meal.
A visit to Turkey is not the same without tasting the Lokum, also known as Turkish Delights. The work on the recipe of Lokum started in the late 1700s when Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir tried to create a soft candy requested by sultan. After numerous attempts, Bekir opened his confectionery shop in 1776 and first introduced this very smooth type of sweet to the world. Originally Lokum was available only in three colours and flavours – red for rose water, yellow for lemon and green for bitter orange. However, there is now a great choice of different tastes of Turkish Delight, which assures that everyone will find their favourite one. Nuts, candies fruits, cacao and coconut are among the most popular pairings to Locum.
This scrumptious sweet pudding get its characteristic yellow colour from saffron, an expensive and precious ingredient . Known to the world for at least 600 years, Zerde is commonly used as a festive dessert at weddings or during the first ten days of the sacred month of Muharram. Apart from saffron, rose water adds a special flavour to Zerde, as it creates a distinctive floral taste. Traditionally, the pudding is served with pomegranate seeds and different sorts of nuts strewn on top. Don’t worry if you are not invited to any celebration, you can find this dessert in selected restaurants around the country. Explore the delicate flavour of Zerde created by an exquisite interaction of rose water, saffron and fruits.
Greece, Egypt or Turkey? No one knows exactly where this super sweet pastry originated from. But one thing is sure: they are simple and ready to spoil your taste buds. Tulumba is often sold on streets as a snack. However, it’s also an easy dessert to make at home with a guarantee of praise from your family and guests. The ideal Tulumba is crispy on the outside and hollow inside. The fried batter of this lush dessert is soaked in syrup or honey which results in a very very sweet taste. You either love it or hate it. Turkish children, who grow up with Tulumba, adore this little snack after their meals.
And to round up this amazing list of treats – Baklava! La crème de la crème. When it comes to having a sweet dessert (the emphasis is on sweet), then nothing can beat the Baklava. If you’re already a fan of Tulumba then you’re on a the right track. This achingly sweet, flaky and nutty dessert is an all-time favourite in Turkey. But is also popular in Greece, Bulgaria and countries of the Middle East. Because of the rich sticky syrup, those, new to Baklava, can’t usually eat more than one or two pieces. Turkish people can only laugh about it, as they usually buy at least one or two kg of this delicious dessert and finish them within a couple of days.
It’s fair to say that all Turkish desserts are rich in sugar and nuts. Therefore, it’s best to enjoy them with either strong black tea poured into an ornamental glass or a cup of flavoursome Turkish coffee slowly brewed in a cezve (narrow-topped pot).