This sweet and savory cheese pastry dessert is hard to avoid in İstanbul. The cheese is covered with a sugar syrup-soaked phyllo strips called kadayıf and fried until crisp. The best part of this dessert is the contrasting textures of the crusty exterior against the soft, melting interior. It can be topped with pistachios, ice cream—or simply eaten on its own, preferably while it’s still hot.
The best ‘künefe’ can be found at restaurants serving grilled meats, better known as kebab.
Where to start when it comes to Baklava? The pastry comes in numerous shapes, sizes, and flavors; walnuts and pistachios being the most famous. Baklava is basically flaky layers of phyllo dough, stacked and brushed with butter and sugar syrup, and then cut into rectangles or diamonds.
One of the best and most well-known places to try this specialty is the Spice Market with its dozens of shops.
Said to be the Turkish version of the American doughnut, these are sweet, fried dough balls known as Lokma. Lokma, translated to English means “bite”, which makes sense, because you can eat this sweet treat in one bite. The outside is coated with sugar syrup which will leave your fingers sticky. Enjoy!
Created on the 18th century with the introduction of sugar in the Ottoman Empire, these delights are like a national treasury. The history says that in the 19th century, a British traveler loved so much this sweet that he took it to England and it became a success in Europe. Some of the most appreciated flavors are: walnuts, pistachios, oranges, almonds, clotted cream, chocolate and rosewater (the original).
Aşure is a light, fruity dessert also known as “Noah’s pudding.” (Named after the Noah who survived the flood—and, according to the legend, created a pudding using all the ingredients he had.) This pudding carries hints of orange and a distinctive texture thanks to fig, apricot, hazelnut, golden raisins, and bulgur or barley—though the fruits and nuts used can vary. Some say Aşure is the oldest dessert in the world
This is the street food version of desserts. Osmanli Macunu is a kind of sticky lollipop sold all over Istanbul, especially in touristic places. It started being produced during the Ottoman Empire: a spicy paste, which included everything from anise, cardamom, and cloves, to coriander, fennel, and rhubarb. Nowadays, in the hope of pleasing the most western palates the flavors go from strawberry, kiwi, chocolate to orange and lemon-flavored caramelized sugar.
Halvah (which means sweet) has several versions. The flour-based one that is more gelatinous, whereas the nut, butter, and sugar-based version crumbles more easily. There are often other additions, such as nuts, dried fruit or chocolate. It can be further dressed up and dipped in chocolate or rolled in nuts.
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