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Turkish Delight

27 January, 2013
Plates of turkish delight for sale in Istanbul store window
Plates of turkish delight for sale in Istanbul store window
Photo Credit: By TheMightyQuill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I'm Ryan Geertsma.

Voice 2

And I'm Robin Basselin. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

Do you have a favorite kind of candy? Is there a kind of sweet food that you enjoy eating after a meal? Do you enjoy your favorite sweet candy with a cup of coffee? Or do you eat it alone as a snack?

Voice 2

Many cultures have their own special sweet candies or desserts. For example, wagashi is a natural sweet from Japan. Wagashi is usually served with tea. Brigadeiro is a small, round chocolate candy from Brazil. There, people often serve this candy at parties. Cannoli is a fried dough filled with sweet crème. It is a special dessert from Sicily, in Italy.

Voice 1

In Turkey, one of these special sweets is Lokum. Lokum is a soft, chewy, sweet candy. It is made with many different tastes, or flavors. Today's Spotlight is on Lokum. Or, as it is known around the world, Turkish Delight.

Voice 2

You may remember this candy if you have read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, a book by C. S. Lewis. In this story, four children travel to a new world. They meet new creatures. But one of the children gets separated from the rest. His name is Edmund. Edmund meets the White Witch, an evil woman who wants to rule this new world. She gives Edmund Turkish Delight. The candy tastes so good that Edmund wants more. But the White Witch will not give him more unless he helps her. So Edmund tells her the information she needs for her evil plan.

Voice 1

In C. S. Lewis's book, Turkish Delight is a rare and special food for Edmund. But in Turkey, the candy is common. Anissa Helou is a food writer and chef. She cooks and writes about Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food. She talked to the BBC Radio Woman's Hour program about Turkish Delight. She said that it is a natural part of welcoming visitors in Turkey.

Voice 3

"Often people come to visit and you offer them coffee. And you say, 'Have the rahat lokum to sweeten your mouth.'"

Voice 2

Turkish Delight is made in the shape of small squares. The main parts of Turkish Delight are sugar, water, and corn flour or corn starch. Different kinds of Turkish Delight are made by adding other foods. Some of the most common kinds include foods like pistachio nuts and oranges, or spices like mint, rosewater, or cinnamon. Finally, the small squares are covered with sugar, corn flour, coconut fruit, or nuts.

Voice 1

In the same interview, Ms. Helou described the process of making Turkish Delight.

Voice 3

"It is not the way you make Turkish Delight that is difficult. It is the time it takes to make. You put sugar, water, and corn flour in a pan. You put it over the heat. And you bring it to a boil. You always continue to stir and mix it. You stir and stir and stir until it forms a soft ball. I can imagine that this will take about an hour or more. This is because it takes a very long time to get the mixture to become a soft, sticky substance. So if you have the patience and if you have strong arms, cook it yourself. But I do not think it is worth making. I think the Turkish shops have good enough Turkish Delight for you to try."

Voice 2

Many other people agree that the best place to get Turkish Delight is in special shops in Turkey. Liesl Schillinger is a writer for Slate online magazine in New York. For Christmas one year, she received Turkish Delight as a gift. She was very excited to try it. But once she tasted it, she was very sad. She thought it tasted like soap for washing instead of sweet, satisfying candy.

Voice 1

But later, she went to the country of Turkey. One night, while on a bus, the driver stopped at a store along the road. He motioned for her and the other people to get off the bus and go into the store. There, Liesl saw people making fresh Turkish Delight. This time when she tried it, she loved it! This Turkish Delight was very good.

Voice 2

Turkish Delight has been a popular Turkish candy since about the 16th century. This was during the Ottoman Empire. This makes it one of the oldest known candies in the world. There are many stories about how this sweet candy began. Some say the Sultan or king did not want to eat more hard candies. So he demanded a soft candy. Other stories say the Sultan wanted a new candy to please his many wives. So one of his cooks developed Turkish Delight.

Voice 1

No one knows the exact origins of Turkish Delight. But we do know that the first Turkish Delight was much different than the candies we eat today. It was made with sweet, thick liquids, such as honey or molasses. Then, in the 18th century, a man named Bekir Effendi created the modern version of Turkish Delight. He later became known as Haci Bekir.

Voice 2

In 1777, Haci Bekir moved from a town on the coast of the Black Sea to the city of Istanbul. There, he opened his first sweets store. His candies became very popular, especially his Turkish Delight. Bekir made Turkish Delight using sugar instead of honey. He added many different foods to create new tastes or flavors of the candy. It is said that the Sultan of Istanbul enjoyed Bekir's candies so much that he made Bekir the chief candy maker of the whole Ottoman Court.

Voice 1

Bekir's son and grandson also served the Sultan as chief candy makers. And his family still owns that first store in Istanbul. Five generations of his family have continued to make fresh Turkish Delight in the store. The store is one of the oldest original candy stores in Turkey.

Voice 2

Until the 19th century, Turkish Delight was still called lokum. Stories say that changed when an English traveller visited Haci Bekir's candy store in Istanbul. This traveller liked the candy very much. So he brought a large amount back to Europe. And he called the candy Turkish Delight.

Voice 1

Today, you can find Turkish Delight in many places around the world. It is traditional in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries – not just in Turkey. And it is known by many different names. What is Turkish Delight called where you live? Have you ever eaten it? What did you think? Share your thoughts with us on the script page of this program. Visit us on our website at http://www.radio.english.net. There, you can also find links with a guide to making Turkish Delight.

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Courtney Schutt. The producer was Ryan Geertsma. The voices you heard were from the United States. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. This program is called "Turkish Delight."

Voice 1

You can also find Spotlight on Facebook. Just search for 'Spotlight Radio.' We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye!


Juan Pastor

Juan Pastor said on November 01, 2010

This article is so important because there are mamy women who are suffering a lot aroud the world. In my country the Dominican Republic several women have to live with men that they don’t want to keep together but there are many cases where men threat women only to feel pleasure that is not fair.


Nebi69 said on November 03, 2010

Thank you Spotlightradio that you always provide us a great and interesting program.Keep it up.


adem said on November 29, 2010

thanks a lot. I am surprised to hear something about my country. yes lokum has a main role in our culture. but becareful about it’s freshness.

Julie Ppark

Julie Ppark said on November 22, 2011

I’ve never been heard of the lokum!!!
I’m becoming very curious and interested in the soft, fresh and sweet candy.
I’m going to search on the internet right now. ^^


jelena said on November 22, 2011

I like this story very much, because I can eat Turkish Delight in my own state, and I love it, but I want go in Istanbul and taste fresh Turkish Delight.
In the past my country have been ocupied by the Ottoman Empire. In Serbia the name for Turkish Delight is RATLUK.
The story about this topic is very interesting. I was enjoy in those sweet sentences…
Greetings from Serbia,


nvtcm90 said on November 23, 2011

read very slow but I can’t hear…


Kris_IV said on November 23, 2011

I never ate and I never saw Turkish Delight, but I search in Internet and in Poland Turkish Delight have name: RachatÅ‚ukum :D In the polish language mean nothing RachatÅ‚ukum :( This is not polish word and I don’t search etymology for this word
Greetings from Polish,


ciseler said on December 20, 2011

This subjet is very sweet. When i read this, i wanted to eat lokum again. I live in Turkey and have a chance to eat it whenever i want. I wish all of you have this chance smile


oma said on November 21, 2012

I have visited Turkey last month and I have tried Turkish delight. That was so delicious .I suggest you to try it as u can.
Have a good time.


Dzung.vn said on November 25, 2012

Oh, it is interesting! I have ever thought this candy came from Europe. Now i know it come from Turkey. I am also love this candy. Thank a lot Spotlight!


georgino said on November 25, 2012

I see that It’s delicious candy. Most of the countries have customs in the traditional meals
I hope one day to taste this candy. It should be exported.

Great topic

Luis Piedra

Luis Piedra said on November 25, 2012

Good article.
Turkey have a variety of sweets that are part of a big tradition.
Thanks Spotlight


czesciaudi said on January 29, 2013

Looks really delicious

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