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Turkish delight

Turkish Delight
An assortment of Turkish delight
Alternative names Lokum
Course Sweet
Place of origin  Ottoman Empire
Creator Hacı Bekir Efendi[1]
Serving temperature Room temperature
Main ingredients Starch, sugar
Variations Multiple
Cookbook:Turkish Delight 

Turkish delight or lokum (Turkish: Türk lokumu) is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are mostly gel, generally flavored with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar, to prevent clinging. Other common flavors include cinnamon and mint. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive.


  • History 1
  • Name 2
  • Around the world 3
    • Greece 3.1
    • Romania 3.2
    • North America 3.3
    • Brazil 3.4
    • Britain and the Commonwealth 3.5
  • Protected geographical indication 4
  • Related products 5
  • Popular culture 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


Rosewater-flavored Turkish delight
Turkish Delight

Turkish delight was probably invented as a medicine for sore throats and other ailments by Arab apothecaries in around the 9th century.[2] There are early records in Arabic of sweets and medicines based on starch and sugar syrup.[2]

According to the Hacı Bekir company, the sweet as it is known today was developed by Bekir Efendi, named Hacı Bekir after performing the hajj. He moved to Istanbul from his hometown Kastamonu and opened his confectionery shop in the district of Bahçekapı in 1777.[1][3] The company still operates under the founder's name.[1]

Tim Richardson, a historian of sweets, has questioned the claim of Hacı Bekir to be the creator of Turkish delight, writing that "specific names and dates are often erroneously associated with the invention of particular sweets, not least for commercial reasons".[4][2]

Ottoman confectionery was originally sweetened with honey and molasses, using water and flour as the binding agents, with rosewater, lemon peel and bitter orange as the most common flavors (red, yellow and green). Hacı Bekir introduced the use of glucose in 1811, shortly after it had been discovered by Gottlieb Kirchhoff.[1]

Lokum was introduced to Western Europe in the 19th century. An unknown Briton reputedly became very fond of the delicacy during his travels to Istanbul and purchased cases of it, to be shipped back to Britain under the name Turkish delight. It became a major delicacy in Britain and throughout Continental Europe for high class society. During this time, it became a practice among upper class socialites to exchange pieces of Turkish delight wrapped in silk handkerchiefs as presents.[5]


The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) and its plural luqūm meaning "morsel" and "mouthful"[6] and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm,[7] was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm, meaning "comfort of the throat", which remains the name in formal Arabic.[8] In Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia it is known as ḥalqūm, while in Egypt it is called malban or ʕagameyya and in Syria rāḥa. Its name in various Eastern European languages comes from Ottoman Turkish lokum or rahat-ul hulküm. Its name in Greek, λουκούμι (loukoumi) shares a similar etymology with the modern Turkish. In parts of Cyprus, where the dessert has protected geographical indication (PGI),[9] it is also marketed as Cyprus Delight.[10] In Armenian it is called lokhum (լոխում). Its name in Bosnian is rahat lokum, and derives from a very old confusion of the two Ottoman Turkish names found already in Ottoman Turkish;[7] indeed this mixed name can also be found in Turkey today, though rarely. Its name in Serbo-Croat is ratluk, a reduced form of the same name. In Iran's official language, Persian, it is called rāhatol holqum (Persian: راحت الحلقوم).[11]

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as Lumps of Delight.[12]

Around the world


In Greece, Turkish delight, known as loukoumi [λουκούμι] has been a very popular delicacy since the 19th century, famously produced in the city of Patras, Patrina loukoumia, as well as on the island of Syros and the northern Greek cities Serres and Komotini but elsewhere as well. Loukoumi is a common traditional treat, routinely served instead of biscuits along with Greek coffee. In addition to the common rosewater and bergamot varieties, Mastic-flavored loukoumi is available and very popular.


The Romanian word to describe this confection is rahat, an abbreviation of the Arabic rahat ul-holkum.[13] However, in the Romanian language, the word rahat took a pejorative sense, in this case a euphemism that translates as shit.[14][15] According to linguist Lazăr Șăineanu, Turkish words which entered the Romanian language in the seventeenth century and eighteenth century became mostly obsolete and acquired a pejorative or ironic sense. Politically and socially, this weakened the influence of Ottoman society, and parts of the Ottoman Turkish language which had not had time to take root in the Romanian language took a touch of irony and became a mine for humorous literature.[16]

Rahat is eaten as is or is added in many Romanian cakes called cornulețe, cozonac or salam de biscuiti (fr).[17] Traditionally in Romania and the Balkans, the rahat is generally served with coffee.

North America

In 1930 two Armenian immigrants, Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban, founded Liberty Orchards of Cashmere, Washington, and began manufacturing "Aplets" (apple and walnut locoum) and "Cotlets" (apricot and walnut locoum). In 1984 they added the medley-flavored "Fruit Delights" line in strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple assortments. Although all of these confections are marketed under American-style brand names, they are referred to on product packaging as "Rahat Locoum." Since 2012, the company has also marketed a line of confections with special packaging under the name "Turkish Delights," which includes traditional Middle Eastern flavors such as rose-pistachio, orange-blossom-walnut, mint, and rose-lemon. Liberty Orchard products are sold in national chain stores and via the internet.

Chuckles, produced by Farley's & Sathers Candy Company, Inc., are jelly candies coated with a light layer of sugar, though it is a crystalline coating rather than the powder usually associated with Turkish delight.

Since 1964, the Nory Candy company of California has been producing their traditional "Rahat Locum" in rosewater, mint, orange, pomegranate, and licorice flavors as well as pistachio and hazelnut versions of Turkish delight.

Turkish delight also forms the basic foundation of the Big Turk chocolate bar (distributed by Nestlé in Canada).


The confection is known in Brazil as Manjar Turco, Delícia Turca, Bala de Goma Síria or Bala de Goma Árabe. As with most Middle Eastern dishes, it came with the Levantine Arab diaspora to Latin America.

Britain and the Commonwealth

Fry's Turkish Delight is marketed by Cadbury in the United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa and can also be found in Canada and New Zealand, which is rosewater flavoured, and covered on all sides in milk chocolate. UK production controversially moved to Poland in 2010.[18]

Protected geographical indication

Despite its worldwide popularity and production in several countries, at present, the only protected geographical indication (PGI) for such a product is the name Λουκούμι Γεροσκήπου (Loukoumi Geroskipou) for Turkish delight made in Yeroskipou, Cyprus.[9][19]

Related products

Turkish Delight was an early precursor to the jelly bean that inspired its gummy interior.[20][21]

There are "gourmand" perfumes that use Loukoum or Loukhoum in their names and that are said to smell like the confection, as in "Loukhoum"[22] by Ava Luxe, "Lakhoum"[23] by Keiko Mecheri, and "Lakhoum"[24] by Serge Lutens.

Popular culture

  • Turkish delight features as the addictive confection to which Edmund Pevensie succumbs in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C. S. Lewis. Sales of Turkish delight rose following the theatrical release of the 2005 film version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[25]
  • Turks fruit, a 1969 Dutch novel written by Jan Wolkers.
  • Turkish Delight, a 1973 Dutch love story of an artist and a young woman.
  • "Rahadlakum" is the title of a major production number in Act 2 of the Wright and Forrest musical Kismet. The Wazir's wife, Lalume, seduces Hajj the poet with the confection, setting up the finale.
  • In The Paradise, Miss Audrey, the head of ladieswear department, falls ill and loses her voice. Her former beau, the department store's direct competitor, brings her "Lumps of Delight." He knows that her illness is psychological, as the only other time she lost her voice was after his proposal.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "HISTORY - Hacı Bekir". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  2. ^ a b c Richardson, Tim (2003). Sweets, a History of Temptation, p. 51. Bantam Press, London. ISBN 055381446X.
  3. ^ xvi. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  4. ^ Brown, Jonathan. "The Lion, the Witch & the Turkish Delight", The Independent, London, 5 December 2005. Retrieved on 5 December 2005.
  5. ^ UK-Turkey relations and Turkey's regional role: twelfth report of session, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee, Google Ebook
  6. ^ Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc-Français (Ottoman Turkish), 1911
  7. ^ a b James Redhouse, A Turkish and English Dictionary, 1856, p.707.
  8. ^ Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1966, p.365
  9. ^ a b "Turks riled as Cyprus set to win EU trademark on Turkish delight". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. December 13, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  10. ^ "Europe | Cyprus villagers make giant sweet". BBC News. 2004-10-18. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  11. ^ Colin Turner, A Thematic Dictionary of Modern Persian, 2004
  12. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  13. ^ Lazăr Șăineanu, Influența orientală asupra limbii și culturii românești, 1900
  14. ^ "Dictionnaire franco roumain" (PDF). Projet babel (in Română). 
  15. ^ Yann Picand, Dominique Dutoit. "Traduction de merde en roumain | dictionnaire français-roumain". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  17. ^ Encyclopedia of Jewish . Wiley. 2010.  
  18. ^
  19. ^ "DOOR". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  20. ^ "The History of Jelly Beans". National Confectioners Association. 
  21. ^ Lynne Olver. "history notes-candy". The Food Timeline. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  22. ^ "Loukhoum by Ava Luxe - Basenotes Fragrance Directory". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  23. ^ "Loukhoum by Keiko Mecheri (2002) - Basenotes Fragrance Directory". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  24. ^ "Rahät Loukoum by Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido (1998) - Basenotes Fragrance Directory". Retrieved 2014-08-01. 
  25. ^ "Turkish Delight Sales Jump After Narnia Chronicles". 2006-02-17. Retrieved 2014-08-01. 

External links

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