Kabak Tatlisi – Candied Pumpkin

Fall is over already and yet, I am not over with pumpkins and chestnuts. I even invested in a handful of pumpkin seeds which I’ll be planting this summer and hopefully enjoying my mini-pumpkins end of next year, here is a picture of what I am hoping to achieve:

For now, I’ll have to suffice with squares of candied winter squash, Turkish style of course. Some recipes from the southern part of Turkey also call for soaking the pumpkin slices into edible lime before cooking, so that the dessert turns translucent and attains a crunchy feel when cooked. This recipe here is the wider used version. (more…)

Saray Helvasi – Royal Halva

Halva is the generic term for flour and/or butter and nuts based dense sweets in various world cuisines including Ottoman cuisine. This one is called royal halva and it is made of butter, wheat flour, caster/icing sugar and ground nuts (almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts). It obviously tastes somewhat like shortbread cookies, as they both contain the same ingredients, but method of preparation is what separates the two.

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Tulumba Tatlisi – Fluted Fritters In Syrup

While we were in Kahramanmaras, we went on a day trip to a place called “Icme” which literally means “drinking / to drink”.  No no, it’s not a bars street, there is a spring resort in “Icme”. People travel to the place from all over South Eastern Anatolia and the Mediterranean region just to drink and possibly take back home as much mineral water as they can to restore or  preserve their health.

The mineral water in Icme is quite bitter and not very pleasant to drink. Locals came up with a solution to this. Just next to the main spring, there are dozens of stalls selling sweets, especially in-syrup types, providing the visitors with a chance to get as thirsty as possible. They serve generous  amounts of sweets followed by bottles of mineral water, fresh from the springs. So if you survive the glucose coma,  you’ll have drunk lots of water from the fountain of health. Yeah, I am all for healthy living, so give me more of that dessert!

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Sakizli Muhallebi – Mastic Pudding

I just realized that I have put up only a few dessert recipes. I need to add more. Especially in Ramadan, I crave sweets, after iftar. I am sure there is a medical explanation to this, but when the cravings are here, all I need is sugar, no explanations for me, thanks. I totally love milk-based sweets and they constitute an important role in Ottoman cuisine with their calming and subtle flavors.

Mastic pudding –sakizli muhallebi- derives its name from mastic gum. I know all it reminds you is construction supplies but trust me there is a lot more to this word. Mastic gum, also called damla sakizi (droplet gum) in Turkish, with its exquisite aroma is exuded from the bark of the mastic tree. The tree is native to the Aegean Island of Chios. According to the hearsay, during the Ottoman rule of Chios, mastic was worth its weight in gold. Apart from the culinary uses of its deep, woody and slightly bitter aroma, mastic gum has been used as a medicine since antiquity. It contains antioxidants, and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, it’s also good for your gums and teeth, no wonder my mom used to chew mastic gum once or twice a month. To me, she was a crazy woman back then, for gnawing on such a hard and intensely flavored matter.

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Visne Pelteli Irmikli Muhallebi – Semolina Pudding With Sour Cherry Jelly

I made this one up, but both semolina pudding and sour cherry starch pudding are traditional Turkish recipes. Ottomans began using fish-gelatin in the 19th century (remember the surprise book my hubs gave me?), before that, they used fruit pectin (quince seeds in particular) and starch in dessert recipes as thickeners, to achieve that jelly-like texture.

It’s quite easy to make this naturally colorful sweet and sour dessert. For the base, I used digestive biscuits, simply lined them up to the base of the tray. For the white pudding layer, you can find the semolina pudding recipe here.

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