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Ratluk Lokum, The Pleasures of Turkish Delight

June 6, 2011

Rose flavored Ratluk Lokum, aka Turkish Delight, or Lumps of Delight

Ratluk Lokum is a soft jelly confection dusted with powdered sugar and flavored most often with lemon, rose or vanilla, and sometimes studded with pistachios or walnuts.  The best are said to be from Sarajevo, Bosnia, where you can get them in a variety of flavors.

The sweet delicacy comes originally from the Ottoman Empire and was introduced into the Austro Hungarian Empire around the time of the Battle of Vienna; a century later an Englishman brought some back from a trip to Istanbul and sold it as Turkish Delight.

I’ve had the manufactured versions before, but they taste dry and less flavorful than ratluk made fresh.  Out in Washington State, they’re sold as Aplets and Cotlets.  The Serbian Embassy served a plateful last month on the World Embassy Tour, and it was divine; soft, sweet and melt in your mouth good.

Turkish Delight often elicits wild passions in people.  In the Chronicles of Narnia, Edward is seduced by the witch with a piece of Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

In this hilarious Dudley Moore and Peter Cook skit, The Psychiatrist, Dudley’s character is prone to screaming every time he sees his wife. Cook, the psychiatrist, shoves a piece of Turkish Delight in his mouth in an attempt at “behavior aversion” therapy.

In this song from the Broadway play, Kismet, Eartha Kitt acts out an erotic recipe for ratluk in the song Rahadlakum, an obvious play on words.  Watch how she stirs and stirs the ratluk lokum with a wooden spoon, and then strokes it back and forth in the pan, about half way through the song.

Below is Pauline’s recipe for ratluk lokum.  I found it fairly easy to make, although getting the lumps out of the corn starch was a bit of a pain (I ended up straining it before I poured it into the pan).  I found a bottle of rose water at a Korean store – its perfume is heavenly, and it produces a wonderful flavor that most people will be unable to identify.  Her relatives in Vojvodina tell me that their favorite is rose flavored with walnuts, so that’s what I made.  Pauline would enjoy it for breakfast with a cup of strong Turkish coffee.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1  cup cornstarch
  • 4 packets gelatin
  • 2 3/4 cups cold water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rosewater
  • 1 cup broken pieces of walnut
  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • Cooking spray
Steps
Place a piece of plastic wrap in a rectangular baking pan, and spray it with cooking spray.
Mix the gelatin packets with 1 cup of water, and in a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water, and stir until smooth.In a saucepan, combine sugar and 1 1/4 cups water on medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and then comes to a boil.  Add in the gelatin and cornstarch mixtures and stir quickly to get the lumps out.   Stir for 10 minutes on medium heat, just like Eartha Kitt, with a wooden spoon. The mixture will become golden in color, and thick and glistening.Once the mixture has become a golden color, stir in the rosewater and walnuts. Pour the mix into the plastic lined pan and spread evenly, stroking it back and forth, ala Eartha, and allow to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours.Once it has cooled, sift the confectioners sugar and remaining 1/4 cup cornstarch.Flip the ratluk onto a clean counter and cut into bite sized squares with an oiled knife.

Toss with the confectioners sugar mixture. Serve or store in airtight container in layers separated with parchment paper.  Keeps for up to a week

Ratluk Lokum served at the Serbian Embassy

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2011 5:11 pm

    I have always remembered vividly that descriptive bit about Turkish Delight from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe — Lewis made it sound so delicious — and yet when I tried a store-bought version, well, yeck. Someday maybe I’ll try yours and Gramma’s.

  2. Stan permalink
    June 7, 2011 10:24 am

    I love Turkish Delight, it was my mother’s favourite in post-war rationing years and treat for the children.
    However, you should really take down the link to Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. I have just spent the last hour watching all those great clips…. Hilarious….. many thanks

    • June 7, 2011 10:57 am

      Aren’t they a riot? I remember watching them on TV years and years ago. It was fun (and, I admit, a time sucker) to watch them again. Where did your mom buy Turkish Delight?

      • Stan permalink
        June 7, 2011 4:56 pm

        I don’t know where she bought it after the war, but in her 90’s family would buy it in London and deliver.
        She was eating it after she turned 100 … must do more research on the longevity ingredients !

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