As Ever, I Start On A Sweet Note

I always like to start my Ramadan Special with a sweet recipe, and this Ramadan is no different. 

I have chosen to begin with my favourite Turkish Delights recipe for two reasons. The first, I always thought I did not like Turkish Delights! Unable to trace back the memory to the day I have made the decision that I don’t like these chewy delights, but somehow always thought I did not, and passed when served anything that even remotely looked like it (Arabic Raha included, very similar to Turkish delights but differently flavoured).When I was in Istanbul earlier this year, and mainly out of courtesy to the merchants, I ate so much Turkish delights of all types and flavours. The first I was offered (a pomegranate and pistachio delight) presented me with an honest turmoil (in thought), in my head I did not like it, but there I was having to try it. I held on to it, and tried to distract the man with questions about how it’s made and this and that. As he explained, he kept on telling me “when you try it you will see… followed by now try it and you will see…” there I was, with a chewy red delight in my hand, starting to melt making my hand very sticky, and an enthusiastic maker eagerly awaiting the verdict! I hated to disappoint him, and so I ate the first delight trying to hide my expected facial expressions only to be blown away! I was amazed at how good it was. I am sure the merchant was not expecting this huge reaction of admiration, unknowingly to him how surprised I was to actually like it! A real delight it was. I reached out for more! Cliche? Yes, but honest too. I truly do not remember why I thought I did not like it. It was chewy, sweet, very well flavoured and absolutely delicious. Ever since then, Turkish delights have become a delight I really like to indulge in, my favourite being pomegranate and pistachio, while the rest are equally good, you know the thing with firsts!

While some delights are better done and better flavoured than others, as with anything made by different people, most are really tasty. So if you have never tried them, or have mysteriously decided you don’t like them, I will eagerly tell you to try them, they are good.

The most important Ramadan Tradition that is shared by all is the ensuring of the gathering of families and friends during the Holy month. It is the sense of belonging to a bigger self, which brings me to my second reason for choosing this recipe. That is: I know you will be entertaining this Ramadan, and I know you will be having guests very often. Most of us will serve our guests Turkish coffee, or any other coffee, at some point during the evening. These delights make an excellent accompaniment to coffee, the Ottomans knew it, The Turks carry the tradition on, the arabs adopted the recipe (Raha) and do this too so I thought you might like to do that and since you have the time and the enthusiasm to make your own foods during the month, I thought you might want to know how these delights are made. These delights and look very elegant on the side of a coffee cup. It is another choice instead of the same old piece of chocolate. Once made and sliced the delights store well in an airtight container (refrigerated in very hot areas). This makes them accessible and always ready to serve. They also look beautiful stacked on a tiered platter or dessert dish should you wish to include them on your buffets.

My dad loves his Turkish coffee, and when breaking fast he can’t wait to have the coffee alongside some delights. If he could, he would have the coffee and delights before the food. I am kind of following in that path and serving you this Ramadan the Delights before the food.

This is how Delights are made….


  • 1 Litre freshly squeezed pomegranate juice
  • 500 ml water
  • 600 ml water
  • 500 g glucose (found in most large supermarkets)
  • 2.5 Kg sugar
  • 375 g corn flour
  • 250g whole shelled pistachios
  • Juice of 1 lemon

In a large pan, over medium-high heat, stir the glucose, sugar and 600 ml water well together to incorporate. Bring the mixture to a boil, occasionally stirring.

Meanwhile, place 500 ml water in the blender with the the cornstarch and blend to incorporate. Pour this mixture in a separate pot and gradually pour the pomegranate juice over the cornstarch mixture stirring well to incorporate. Place over medium heat, continuously stirring until the mixture comes to a slow boil. At this point you should have a creamy paste-like texture. Remove from heat.

Gradually add the pomegranate paste to the hot glucose mixture, vigorously stirring in order to prevent lump formation. (be careful as the sugar is hot and sugar burns are very dangerous)

Once all had been incorporated, slowly bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to the lowest setting possible and cook uncovered for 3 hours, stirring frequently. This must be done over very low heat otherwise the bottom will caramelise / burn. It helps to place over a heat proof metal tube, so the bottom of the pot is not in direct contact with the fire.

To know if the mixture is done, drop the back of a spoon into the mixture and cover with the back of another spoon. As you pull out if you see gum like threads between the 2 spoons (clung to both spoons), that means the mixture is ready. If not, then cook further until the right consistency is achieved. Once done, add the lemon juice and stir vigorously to incorporate. Cook for 2-3 minutes longer and stir in the whole pistachios.

In the meantime line shallow baking sheets with parchment paper and dust them with cornstarch. Top with 1/3 the sliced pistachios and set aside.

Once the Delight has finished cooking, pour it while it’s still hot over the prepared trays. Even out with a lightly greased heat proof offset spatula. Sprinkle 1/3 sliced pistachios over the top. Leave the sheets to set for 24- 36 hours.

Once done, cut the set delights into long rectangles, remove from the baking sheet and dip the sides in the remaining sliced pistachios. Line in an airtight container, separated with parchment paper. When ready to serve only slice the ones you are serving to keep the flavour fresh.

Serve alongside coffee, tea or in a plate alongside other desserts.

  • TIP – You can always coat the delights with desiccated coconuts or rose petals for a change from the pistachios. You can even make different patches with different coatings for a more varied display.
Photo of Poster in Modern Art Museum, Istanbul


Food For Thought – Challenge everything. Limitations are mostly self-inflicted

Hope you have enjoyed learning how Turkish Delights are made. Yes slightly challenging but worth the effort.

This recipe marks the first of my Ramadan Special 2013 posts. Make sure to follow all the posts and recipes (july 2013) for the full Ramadan Special 2013, in which I explore the Ramadan, culture, traditions and foods from various cultures, places and even eras tracing some traditions back to their roots and exploring the cuisines’ associations with Ramadan and choice of foods. Very interesting information and also as ever including food for thought sections, as the Holy month is not complete if not including inner growth alongside delicious foods.

Ramadan Mubarak to you and your families, hope it brings you a month of wealth in everything. And this year I conclude the posts with this beautiful message:

The world is beautiful, all its people are beautiful, all cultures equally important, and all the same in the end – all out there for us to explore…
Ramadan Kareem

You may also like…