Turkish delight

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Turkish Delight
An assortment of Turkish delight
Alternative name(s) Lokum
Type Sweet
Place of origin  Ottoman Empire
Region or state  Turkey
Creator(s) Turks
Serving temperature Room temperature
Main ingredient(s) Starch, sugar
Variations Multiple

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.


Rosewater-flavored Turkish delight
Turkish Delight

The sweet as it is known today was invented by Hacı Bekir Efendi. He moved to Istanbul from his hometown Kastamonu and opened his confectionery shop in the district of Bahçekapı in 1777.[1][2] The company still operates under the founders name.[3]

Originally, honey and molasses were its sweeteners, and water and flour were the binding agents, with rosewater, lemon peel and bitter orange as the most common flavors (red, yellow and green). 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.[4][not in citation given]


The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) and its plural luqūm meaning "morsel" and "mouthful"[5] and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm,[6] was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm, meaning "comfort of the throat", which remains the name in formal Arabic.[7] 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),[8] it is also marketed as Cyprus Delight.[9] 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;[6] 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: راكحت الحلقوم).[10]

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as Lumps of Delight.[11]

Around the world[edit]


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 Turkish 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.[12] However, in the Romanian language, the word rahat took a pejorative sense, in this case a euphemism that translates as shit.[13][14] According to linguist Lazăr Şăineanu, 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.[15]

Rahat is eaten as is or is added in many Romanian cakes called cornuleţe, cozonac or salam de biscuiti.[16] Traditionally in Romania and the Balkans, the rahat is generally served with coffee.

North America[edit]

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.

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, some of the Commonwealth and beyond[edit]

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, though it has little in common with the traditional product. UK production controversially moved to Poland in 2010.[17]

In Canada, Big Turk is a chocolate bar manufactured by Nestlé Canada. Hershey Canada's Bridge Mixture includes red and green Turkish delight as part of its mix.

The interior jelly of jelly beans may trace its origins to Turkish delight.[18]

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.

Protected geographical indication[edit]

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.[8][19]

Related products[edit]

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

Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The History of Turkish Delight, Hacı Bekir, www.hacibekir.com.tr
  2. ^ Carol Helstosky, Food culture in the Mediterranean, 2011, xvi
  3. ^ http://www.hacibekir.com.tr/eng/hb_tarihce.html
  4. ^ UK-Turkey relations and Turkey's regional role: twelfth report of session, Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Foreign Affairs Committee, Google Ebook
  5. ^ Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc-Français (Ottoman Turkish), 1911
  6. ^ a b James Redhouse, A Turkish and English Dictionary, 1856, p.707.
  7. ^ Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1966, p.365
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ "Cyprus villagers make giant sweet", BBC News, October 18, 2004
  10. ^ Colin Turner, A Thematic Dictionary of Modern Persian, 2004
  11. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  12. ^ Lazăr Şăineanu, Influența orientală asupra limbii şi culturii româneşti, 1900
  13. ^ (Romanian) "Dictionnaire franco roumain". projet babel. 
  14. ^ (French) Traduction de merde en roumain
  15. ^ (Romanian) "INFLUENTA LIMBII TURCE ASUPRA LIMBII ROMǺNE". scritube.com. 
  16. ^ (English) "Encyclopedia of Jewish Food". books.google.fr. 
  17. ^ http://www.confectionerynews.com/Financial/Final-UK-made-Cadbury-Crunchie-bars-from-September
  18. ^ "The History of Jelly Beans". National Confectioners Association. 
  19. ^ Dossier Number CY/PGI/0005/0454 in the EU's Database of Origin and Registration.
  20. ^ Turkish Delight Sales Jump After Narnia Chronicles

External links[edit]