Thursday, April 26, 2012

Safranbolu - How could you resist these sweet, fluffy, bite-size pillows that you just pop in your mouth?
Saffron-flavored lokum in Safronbolu, Turkey
During our recent trip, I sampled several kinds of lokum (Turkish delights) throughout the cobblestone streets of Safranbolu for the sake of my blog. I mean, the sample tray, was so inviting at every shop we passed so I tried them all. I even went back for seconds.

Yes, I was on a delightful sugar high.
In Safranbolu, there are two main varieties of lokum sold - safran (saffron) and kaymaklı (Turkish clotted cream). The town's name is derived from saffron which used to be grown and traded throughout the district. The saffron threads are still used in Turkish desserts like the lokum, tea and as a dye for carpets here.

Turkish saffron is actually from safflower petals - at least the saffron I've seen. At the Mısır Çarşısı (Spice Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkish saffron is sold in large open bins next to the dried teas and other spices.

In contrast, the true deep-red saffron is imported from Iran and sold in tiny glass jars. One gram costs about 25 TL. Trust me, that small amount will go a long way in flavouring any rice dishes or stews. (You can find my saffron risotto recipe here.)

Apparently, the real saffron, harvested from crocus flowers, is still grown in fields near the village of Davutobası, about 22 kilometres outside of Safranbolu.

Now, back to the lokum.

We found the best lokum in Safranbolu at Özer Lokumları in the Eski Çarşı. The kaymaklı lokum tastes nearly identical to an American marshmallow, but 10 times better. The safran lokum with pistachios also has a nice flavor. We bought two karışık (mixed) boxes on our first day.
From what I understood, the lokum sets for one day before it is cut into strips and small pieces. The  fresh lokum is then rolled in dried coconut.
On Monday morning, we stopped back by Özer Lokumları and bought four more boxes. Yes, the lokum was that good!

Now, I just need to learn how to make my own lokum!

Where to buy the lokum:
Özer Lokumları, located in the Eski Çarşı of Safranbolu
Yukarı Çarşı No. 3

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BacktoBodrum said...

It's a shame that the Turkish Delight that most Brits know has no resemblance to this true delight.

Joy said...

@BacktoBodrum, Unfortunately, the mass production of lokum means the quality often suffers. It's worth searching for something this good though!

Karen said...

Love the photos!

Anonymous said...

Joy, I think we were in Safranbolu at the same time as you, ANZAC Day for Aussies! I understand a significant difference in their lokum is the use of honey in lieu of sugar. Do you have an actual Safranbolu lokum recipe. I'd love to make the pistachio nut one.
Patt Kowal

Margot Miller said...

Is there a way to order the honey and pistachio (no sugar) lokum in small (gift size) quantities? (I will provide another email when you contact me at this one - to prevent spam finding the other one!

Anonymous said...


You can buy easily the first quality Turkish Delight favors on ETSY.

Unknown said...

thank you for the recommandation. I was a bit lost in these lokum shops and did not like them lol until... I tasted the ones you recommended at Ozerim.