I entered my Turkish Delight recipe and ‘the story behind it’ into the World Nomad’s ‘Passport to Plate’; a global food & travel writing competition. I’m delighted to announce that I have been awarded the scholarship for 2016. Want to see the winning recipe?
This incredible opportunity means that I’ll be flown over to Spain next month, where I’ll be blogging about my experiences along the way on the World Nomads website. I’ll specifically be heading to Catalunya in North-Eastern Spain to immerse myself in the culture and cuisine of the region. Whilst I’m over there I will also be working with World Nomads and the Catalunya tourism board to create a series of videos about my Catalan culinary adventure. Fellow foodies, I’d love for you to follow along on the journey.
If you’re a writer, photographer or videographer you should check out the World Nomad Scholarships. There are some truly incredible opportunities out there for those passionate about travel.
I’ve been inspired to share with you my winning recipe and ‘the story behind it’ on The Portmanteau Press.
ROSE AND PISTACHIO TURKISH DELIGHT
- Peanut oil for greasing the pan
- 900g of fine caster sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 175g cornflour
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 3 tbsp rose syrup
- 2-3 drops red food colouring
- 150g unsalted pistachio (shelled)
- Cornflour to dust
- Icing sugar to dust
- Line a 20cm square baking tin on all sides with baking paper. Lightly grease with peanut oil and put aside.
- Place the sugar, lemon juice and 340ml water together in a deep pot set over a low heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Use a sugar thermometer by placing it in the pot and without stirring bring the mixture up to 118C. This should be done slowly, taking approximately 15-20 minutes.
- While your sugar mixture is being brought to the boil, place the cornflour, 570ml cold water and the cream of tartar in a large pan. Make sure the pot has a heavy bottom as to avoid burning the mixture over the heat.
- Stir continuously over a low heat, bring to the boil and beat using a balloon whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick. Beat out any existing lumps and remove from the heat.
- Then, place the cornflour mixture back on a low heat. Once the sugar mixture has reached 118C, pour it into the cornflour mixture.
- Stir the combined mixture well to remove any lumps, and simmer on a low heat stirring regularly for two hours. Make sure the mixture does not burn at the bottom of the pot.
- Take the pot off the heat. Now it’s time to stir in the rose syrup, food colouring and pistachio nuts.
- Pour the mixture into the tin and lightly bang the tin on the kitchen counter once to remove any air pockets. Leave to cool overnight and then set for two days.
- Once set, cut the Turkish Delight into small squares using a sharp knife that is slightly greased to avoid sticking. Finally, dust the pieces with equal parts of sifted cornflour and icing sugar. Enjoy!
THE STORY BEHIND THE RECIPE
I was living in Paris as a writer at Shakespeare and Co. bookstore on the Left Bank. Whilst flicking through a dusty book about the Ottoman Empire, I felt the romantic allure of grand mosques, opulent palaces, the mysticism of the whirling dervishes, the imam’s call to prayer through the rambling streets at dawn, ancient bazaars with haggling merchants and locals sipping black tea. I longed to taste the aromatic specialties of mezze, kebabs and baklava, and of course Turkish Delight.
I booked a flight to Istanbul; the bustling metropolis where continents collide and the East meets the West. I set out to the Grand Bazaar where stalls glittered with what looked like mountains of colourful gems, but what turned out to be lokum (Turkish Delight) – one of the most ancient sweets in the world. Wandering through twisting streets I stumbled upon Haci Bekir; a landmark of a confectionary dynasty. The centuries-old store is where the inventor of lokum, Bekir Affendi, set up shop in 1777. Legend has it that the Sultan was so taken with this new delicacy he appointed its creator as his own chief confectionary maker.
The wooden frontage has glass windows brimming with a treasure trove of edible delights. The jewel-like sweets dusted with white powder – flavours such as rosewater, mastic, bergamot and some studded with walnut, hazelnut or pistachios. Inside there is a brass counter where Bekir’s descendants serve customers whose faces light up when sampling the same perfumed morsels that impressed the Ottoman royalty almost 250 years ago.
My first day in Istanbul is a vivid memory that has stuck with me like syrup. Months later in Paris, I paused to gaze upon a painting by Amedeo Preziosi hanging in the Louvre. The painting depicts Bekir Affendi in his lavish store, a white bearded man weighing lokum to sell to a woman and her children. It’s surreal to think I had also sampled sweet delicacies in that same little shop along the backstreets of Istanbul where time stands still.