TURKISH DELIGHT IN LEFKOŞA

 Murat then took us to the factory so that we could see the process for the making of Turkish Delight

  Following meeting up with Murat Yumurtacioğlu recently and writing about the family’s shops in Girne and Bellapais, he invited me to meet his brother who runs the shop in Lefkoşa and to visit the factory units for a demonstration of the making of Turkish Delight. 

A day was arranged and Chris and I went off to Lefkoşa where we met Murat’s brother Ismail at the shop near the Selimiye Mosque inside the old city walls.  It is a very large well stocked shop and sells the same type of items as the Girne shop i.e. Turkish Delight produced at their factory and also boxes of Turkish Delight produced in Turkey, there is a good range of dried fruits, herbs, spices and nuts and also jars of carob syrup and many other items to tempt you.    Ismail told me that he moved to this shop 2½ years ago when the old bandabulya closed for refurbishment but they also have another shop in the temporary covered market which Ismail’s wife, Gűlsűm looks after and eventually this shop will move from the temporary site to a permanent site in the refurbished bandabulya which is scheduled to be completed around 20th April.  

While at the temporary market, we met Murat and Ismail’s mother, Seval, who acts as a stand-in whenever one of the shops needs some additional cover or help.   The temporary covered market was originally a car park and it is hoped that when the units are moved to the new bandabulya it will revert to a car park again, a much needed facility around the area.  Murat proudly pointed out a photograph of his father on the wall and said that he was a real workaholic.  His father was literally born in the bandabulya and he actually died there of a heart attack.   His father must have had some sort of premonition because he had told the family if he died they were not to close the shop.  Of course they did as a mark of respect for him. 

Murat then took us to the factory units so that we could see the process for the making of Turkish Delight and when we arrived we met Mehmet who came from Mersin in Turkey and has worked for the family for 13 years.  Mehmet does not speak English but we were told that he is a master Turkish Delight maker and he is an expert in the making of carrot Turkish Delight.  Mehmet has been in the business of making Turkish Delight for 33 years so there is no doubt he is an expert at his craft.  

The first demonstration was cutting the blocks of Turkish Delight with a guillotine machine.  It is amazing at how much icing sugar is used for this but Murat told us that they also mix cornflour with it as this stops the Turkish Delight from absorbing too much of the icing sugar which can affect the texture and taste.   The cutting is done by a machine but Mehmet also showed us the process of cutting by hand which is done with a long double handled slightly curved blade.   I would imagine that in days gone by the process would have taken a long time to complete the finished product and would have been very tiring for the worker.   In another part of the factory the process of cooking the Turkish Delight was taking place and we looked at this briefly and were asked to come back in a couple of hours so that we could see the next stage.

So we returned to the factory and Mehmet was there smiling and ready to show us the next stage.  The cooking was still going on in the large mixing machine and Mehmet scooped a small piece out to test.  This again is a matter of everyone to their trade as he can tell exactly when it is ready by rolling it between his fingers.   It was ready when it stuck between his finger and thumb when he opened them and at this point some colouring and rose essence was added and after a bit more mixing it was ready to pour.  There were trays lavishly coated with icing sugar standing by and the machine was tilted, the pouring was started and the trays filled.   The small amount which was left was put into a tray and this was quite a thin layer which would eventually be cut up into very small pieces.  Murat had told us that they also sell these small pieces of Turkish Delight which is more suitable for elderly people.

They do not produce large batches at a time at the factory so it is always freshly made and the process is quite lengthy as the cooking takes 2 hours and then it is a further 24-48 hours before cutting can be done.  Murat told me that the Turkish Delight they produce is 100% vegetarian and that the ingredients vary depending on the time of year it is produced as this is important to ensure a perfect finished product.    The boxes of Turkish Delight are sealed at the factory and this ensures that it keeps fresh for 4-6 months and also it can be transported easily with no deterioration.  When customers buy the loose Turkish Delight in the shops it is also boxed up and sealed.

I had been to the Turkish Delight factory before a couple of years ago with an organised group but this time I found it a lot more interesting and gained a lot more information about the process, so it was well worth another visit.

Before leaving Lefkoşa, I returned to the main shop to purchase some Turkish Delight to take home with me, which I will of course really enjoy.

The newly refurbished Bandabuliya opened in April and the shop was transferred from the temporary market to a very smart unit in a prominent position.

To read more about Sweetys, click here:- Turkish Delight in Kyrenia, North Cyprus

The Origins of Turkish Delight

By Margaret Sheard