Thoughts About Turkish Delight

Monday, June 20, 2016

"The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious. … At first Edmund tried to remember that it is rude to speak with one's mouth full, but soon he forgot about this and thought only of trying to shovel down as much Turkish Delight as he could, and the more he ate the more he wanted to eat … .

At last the Turkish Delight was all finished and Edmund was looking very hard at the empty box and wishing that she would ask him whether he would like some more. Probably the Queen knew quite well what he was thinking; for she knew, though Edmund did not, that this was enchanted Turkish Delight and that anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves."

-The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I devoured the Narnia books as a child as much as Edmund devoured this now legendary Middle Eastern candy. Growing up the only Turkish Delight I had ever encountered were those terrible stale squares that became oddly popular gifts in the nineties. Everyone loved to give them, but god forbid you receive. Crunchy exteriors with far too gummy interiors enrobing stale nuts and fruit in sugary prisons.

Still, I was always curious to try the real thing, and for a recent Lebanese-themed dinner party I figured that now was a fine time to try.

They're easy to make, but the result is somewhat dichotomous...

Fresh Turkish Delight is definitely an acquired taste. Somewhere between jell-o and marshmallow sit the wobbly, brightly colored candy. If the texture doesn't appeal than the rose water flavoring might not either. Recipes require heavy pours of the stuff. In addition, the only ingredients are cornstarch, sugar, gelatin, and water. Not exactly a miracle pill.

The result is an incredibly sweet, overtly perfumed candy with a rather odd chew. I found it lovely, but after two pieces I had had my fill for the year, which seemed to be the total judgment from the table. One piece is dandy. A second a dare. A third is unthinkable.

Still, Edmund eventually betrays his siblings upon hearing from the White Queen that, "there are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight" at her castle, so perhaps TD is just the sweetie for you.

Just remember that if you do get a taste for it, that Turkish Delight may become a rather nasty habit. Remember Edmund…

"He had eaten his share of the dinner, but he hadn't really enjoyed it because he was thinking all the time about Turkish Delight—and there's nothing that spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food."

This recipe come from the cookbook, The Lebanese Kitchen, by Salma Hage. It's a huge tome with incredible recipes. They do require a bit of intuition as they seems to sometimes be written for people who have more knowledge of the food, but take faith and know the recipes work. Overall, I highly recommend it.

Turkish Delight

4 tablespoons powdered gelatin
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons of rose water
a few drops of red or pink food coloring
vegetable oil

To Decorate:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch

Place the gelatin, sugar, rose water, and cornstarch in a pot with 3 1/2 cups of water in a saucepan and place over low heat. Stir constantly until it comes to a boil. Let boil for 45 minutes, undisturbed. Take off heat and stir in the food coloring.

Take a small dish (6x6, 8x6, etcetera). and brush lightly with vegetable oil. Pour in the mixture and let sit for 24 hours. Store in an airtight container.

Cut into cubes and toss into a the powdered sugar-constarch mixture. Be generous and heavy about it. Serve immediately and consume within 3 days. 


  1. I have always wanted to make this, but never tried. I think today is the day!

  2. When I was a kid we had a family friend who made it with orange water instead of rose water and mixed in chopped nuts - so good. I think she was Armenian... I'm not sure if it was a regional variation or her personal innovation, but we loved it.

    1. I was thinking of doing that as well. Orange blossom and pistachio is the other popular flavor.

    2. Pistachios! That was it. I could never remember what the nuts were, just the joy of fresh made treats...

      I think a couple of times she did pine nuts, maybe? and she did a version flavored with Saffron for the adults. A warm memory from the hazy past...Nice to be reminded of it :)

  3. Turkish delight always reminds me of the Dorothy Sayers whodunit, in which Lord Peter discovers the poisoner by pretending that the Turkish that delight he, the villain, was gobbling was covered in arsenic powder.

    1. Clever. I'll have to check that out. Thank you!

  4. Thanks for this delicious looking food recipe, I am gonna try this at home this weekend hope my family will like it as well.
    Malegra DXT

  5. These look lovely! My boss brought back some freshly made Turkish Delights from her trip to Turkey, and my favorites had chunks of pistachio in them. Do you think the recipe you've posted here would work for something like that?

    1. I absolutely do, Zan. Just mix them in at the very end with food coloring.

  6. Does 'let it sit for 24 hours' mean at room temperature, uncovered, and then store in an airtight container?

  7. Looks sweet with little caramel on top of your delicious recipe would be best meal for kids.

  8. Going to try this soon. Thank you!


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