One of the greatest things of living in Turkey is being able to taste the delicious Turkish cuisine! And as for me, someone who likes anything sweet, Turkish desserts are the reason to sing the song “I’m in heaven!” … Or like we, Turks say; ‘Eat sweets, talk sweet’.
I was lucky enough to meet my great grand father (my mother’s grand father) when I was a little girl. He was not only a sweet man but also the man of sweets. Because of his passion for making sweets, he started a business of selling sweets. And that’s how he got his last name as “Tatlıcı” which means sweets maker or seller. As a part of his family, I’m also very interested in Turkish desserts and sweets which are far more richer than “Turkish Delight” (Lokum) and “Baklava” indeed. Traditional Turkish desserts can be explained in three categories; desserts with milk, desserts with pastry and desserts with fruit.
Desserts with milk include a wide variety of puddings, also called as the “muhallebi” family. These puddings are made with starch and rice flour, without any eggs or any butter and some of them are baked. Simply Muhallebi is a baked milk-and-rice pudding. It’s got a yellowish color with brown spots on the top where the baking has burned it. When it’s unbaked, it’s called Sütlaç. Another light pudding with rose-water and thin sheets of pastry in a milky sauce is Güllaç. Keşkül is a milk pudding made with coconut. The milk pudding with strands of chickenbreast called Tavukgöğsü, literally means the breast of chicken. If it’s baked then it’s called Kazandibi.
Desserts with pastry are not only more calories but also harder to cook. The baked pastries are also called as the “baklava” family. Baklava is made of paper-thin pastrysheets that are brushed with butter, folded and filled with walnuts or pistachios. After it’s baked, a sweet syrup is poured over it. According to the amount of nuts as well as the size and the shape of the dessert, it can be called Sultan Tatlısı or Bülbül Yuvası. Another type in this category is Tulumba which is hard on the outside and very sweet in the inside because of the syrup called sherbet. Revani is a sponge cake with sherbet. Ekmek Kadayıfı is like a bread cake with sherbet. Helva is made by pan-sauteeing flour and pine nuts in butter. After adding sugar as well as milk or water, it’s cooked until they are all absorbed. Helva has a special place in Turkish culture. It’s a part of traditions to serve helva in particular events such as birth, death or some other important days. Lokma is a fried sweet dough, covered in a syrup. Dilber dudağı, hanım göbeği, şekerpare and vezir parmağı are also in this category.
And when it comes to the category of desserts with fruit, there’s the famous Ayva tatlısı which is made of quince, walnut and cream. Kabaktatlısı is made of baked pumpkin and syrup. And finally there’s the Aşure which is a festive pudding of fruits, wheat, chickpea, sugar, raisins and a very crowded list of ingredients. Aşure has a religious connection and therefore it is served traditionally on the tenth day of the month of Muharrem.
Even though I’ve to watch my weight and health, I still can’t stop eating these heavenly pleasures and keep singing!..
“Everytime you’re near,
I start to lose control,
I’m in heaven with you!”
No matter how hard life gets sometimes, there are always some sweet parts that are worth to live for! If you can’t see them, just try one of the famous Turkish desserts which will make life sweeter for you.