This week, as promised, I’m going to be telling you all about the desserts we had in Turkey. I use the pronoun “we” so it doesn’t sound like I ate them all… Although, let’s face it, I probably did eat most of them! No regrets. None. Worth every (1000) calories.
(No I am not going to address the elephant in the room which is that I haven’t blogged in over a month, I know you were all thinking it – I have no excuse.. let’s not talk about it. Well actually since I’ve brought it up now, I might as well say SORRYSORRYSORRY!)
So, this is how we’ll do it. I’ll give you a nice little photo and then a caption telling you what it is and a little bit about its history/origins. If you find the food history bit boring (I assume you are that person who skips the food history bit on Bake Off… I am too, but don’t tell anyone!) then just enjoy the pretty pictures!
First we have lokma and this is a deep fried dough, soaked in syrup that comes in lots of different shapes… (Tulumba tatlisi and theonesthatlookslikeminidoughnutsbutIdontknowwhattheyrecalled are examples of these different variations) The word “lokma” itself means “mouthful or “morsel,” which explains its name because it is indeed a little morsel of sweetness, stickiness and absolute deliciousness!
Next up we have bülbül yuvasi which is a tube of filo pastry, filled with pistachios once baked, shaped into a round shape and soaked with syrup! (Warning: This soaked in syrup thing will be a running theme in the majority of these desserts! So if you don’t have a sweet tooth, opt out now! But follow the blog before you do.. *fake smile and battering eyelashes*) The explanation behind the name of this dessert I think is adorable! Bülbül yuvasi means “nightingale’s nest” because as you can see that’s what the dessert, kind of, resembles… How cuteeeee!? This is totally irrelevant, but actually very relevant, in Turkish we have an expression, “bülbül oldun.” That means that you’ve gotten very chatty and can’t stop talking, you sound like a nightingale (if nightingales speak very quickly…?) And I think this is a funny little connection, that I’ve completely made up, that when you eat bülbül yuvasi you become bülbül! Probably because of all that syrup…!
Next we have sekerpare, one of my personal favourites. A ball of pastry/dough dipped in, you’ll never guess what… Syrup! This word means “sugar piece” or if you like to use grammatically correct English “piece of sugar!” It’s not actually just a “piece of sugar” there is some, albeit a very small amount, stuff that isn’t sugar! But, the name is right, it is mostly sugar… Probably why it’s my favourite! These come in different shapes and sizes too!
In this picture, you’re looking at baklava and hopefully you’ve all seen (and if you’re super lucky eaten) one of these before.. Probably the most famous middle eastern dessert! Now unfortunately, the history of baklava wasn’t very well documented so there are several possibilities of where it came from. (One of which is DISGUSTING and I definitely do not want to be thinking about it when I’m eating baklava..) So I guess I’ll start with that one just to get it out the way. Some say, although I don’t want to believe it, that the root of baklava is a layered.. wait for it.. placenta cake. A cake layered with placenta, cheese and honey… Mmm… I don’t feel comfortable talking about this anymore, let’s just stop please and never bring it up ever again. Ever again. The other suggestion of where it comes from is to do with its etymology. It may come from the Mongolian root “bayla” which means to pile up. Let’s hope it is the latter rather than the former!
(And because it’s not sweet enough – note my sarcasm – serve with a hugeee ball of pistachio ice cream!)
Below you can also see the coconut and chocolate versions. Both incredible! Those who know me well, know that coconut is kind of my thang, so that would have to be my favourite!
Here you’re looking at samsi and I’m really, really sorry but I couldn’t find any food history on this so a description and a scrummy photo of it is going to have to do! I do know however that this is a Turkish Cypriot dessert so is more common there and we were very lucky to find it in Belek. It is basically a deep-fried, crunchy pastry pocket full of sweet, sticky nuts and, you guessed it, soaked in syrup! Sooo indulgent but sooo moreish!
Now we come to the only dessert here which isn’t drowned in syrup and that is sütlaç. Sütlaç is a milky rice pudding (“süt” means milk) which has been baked in the oven, giving it that lovely blistered top! It’s creamy and really refreshing – the perfect choice if you’re after something a bit lighter for dessert! I really, really like it but I do know that some people don’t like milky puddings. Give it a try though, ‘milky-pudding-doubters!’
Now I’m going to tell you about kadayif and künefe – the ultimate duo. These desserts are both made with kadayif pastry or what we like to call “angel hair pastry” because it made of really, really thin strands of pastry. This helps to create an über crispy top! This crispy top is then soaked in syrup (is this getting old yet?) and the pastry absorbs the syrup and goes all chewy.. Wow, I’m hungry writing this..! Kadayif is filled with a pistachio filling whereas künefe is filled with cheese. And the cheese goes all stringy and melty and gooey and all the good things in life. My grandma judges whether a künefe is good or not by how far the cheese stretches! This dessert originates from Hatay, a place in Turkey, so traditionally Hatay cheese is used. (Sorry the photos of these aren’t very good – it was dark, so I struggled with the lighting.. *cough, cough* a good workman never blames his tools *cough, cough* (top: kadyif, bottom: künefe – Google künefe and you’ll get much more appetising photos than mine with stringy cheese!)
Finishing off with cezerye and turkish delight, these are not so much desserts, but more snacks and things to have next to your tea/coffee. I’m sure you’ve all heard of turkish delight but maybe not cezerye. Now it sounds kind of gross when I describe it but bare with. Cezerye is in the same family as turkish delight so is also gelatinous (what an ugly word) however it is made with caramelised carrots. Don’t dismiss it, you eat carrot cake, so give cezerye a chance! It doesnt taste like carrot, you just get a really nice sweetness! It is then packed with pistachios and coated with desiccated coconut. Fun fact: turkish delight was the inspiration for jelly beans! Alsoooooo, an alternative name in the Middle East is “rahat al-hulqum” and this means “comfort of the throat” in Arabic. It certainly is! (Top: hazelnut turkish delight Bottom: cezerye – both delicious served next to ihlamur, a gorgeous turkish tea, which even I, a tea-hater, like (but only with quite a bit of sweetener… !) P.S. Look how nice the plate is, I kind of wanted to steal it. Ok, thats enough unnecessary information for now.
Back to work I go!
See you later alligator(s)!