The history of one of the most popular Turkish delicacies – lokum, mass-produced and consumed, as one of the few sweet delights offered on the market, begins in the distant 18th century. The confectioner Haj Bekir Efendi is considered the “father” of lokum, as he began to mass-produce it and sell it in his shop. He arrived in Constantinople in 1776 and thanks to his culinary skills and talent, as well as the lokum he prepared, he was appointed chief pastry chef in the palace by the Sultan. This is the beginning of the history of the sweet treat, but do you know how it developed and what the delight is made of?
The history of lokum
Turkish Delight is one of the oldest sweets in the world, believed to be more than 500 years old, meaning it was known and prepared even before the popular confectioner started selling it in his shop and turned it into a popular Turkish sweet treat . Haj Bekir Efendi wrapped lokum in special lace handkerchiefs and turned it into a symbol of love and a way of expressing feelings, with men offering it as a gift to the lady of their heart they were courting.
The story continues precisely with the presence of the pastry chef in the palace, and the lokum itself – with its spread outside of Turkey, which happened thanks to a British traveler in the 19th century, who liked lokum so much that he took boxes of all the flavors of Turkish to his native Britain a sweet gem he discovered. The name of this sweet morsel, called lokum, has an Arabic origin – from the word luqam, which translates as “bite” and “mouth full”. Its name in various Eastern European languages comes from Ottoman Turkish – lokum.
What is Turkish delight made of?
It is a curious fact that the recipe for Turkish delight has remained almost unchanged since the day it was created. Nuts, different notes and aromas are added to it, but in its essence it remains unchanged, preserved and passed down from generation to generation.
Lokum turns culinary history with its ingredients. Until the 19th century and the advent of refined sugar in these lands and its use in the preparation of sweets, they were made with honey or dried fruit, which gave them their taste. Lokum is prepared from a mixture of sugar syrup and starchy milk. It took 5-6 hours to prepare or more precisely cook the mixture, after which the aroma was added. The mixture was then poured into large wooden proofing trays and after about five hours it was rolled up, sliced and sprinkled with nuts or powdered sugar. These are the ingredients of lokum even today, the tradition has been preserved, the recipe – too.
In Bulgaria, f.e., the focus is mainly on traditional flavors and aromas related to our country, such as Bulgarian rose, walnuts, honey, while in Turkey the variety of Turkish delights is proverbial, the most popular being fruit notes, mint, lemon, orange, as well as Turkish delights with dates, pistachios or hazelnuts.
In Turkey, Turkish delight is also widely available, wrapped with dried fruits such as apricot, as well as variants with a lot of coconut. A special type of Turkish delight is also known, with a layer of cream (buffalo milk cream) between the sweet layers and topped with coconut shavings.
Photo by Oleksandr Pidvalnyi: