Now, I certainly didn’t book my holiday to Turkey because of the food. I am a big fan of hummus and stuffed aubergines, but my view of Turkish desserts isn’t that positive, with my only experience being a sample of Baklava at a local food festival. I wasn’t impressed. Baklava is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of Turkey and those of Central and South West Asia.
I don’t particular enjoy greasy food and I never use oil in my cooking, so the thought of having a sweet pastry soaked in oily syrup for dessert isn’t the most appealing. However whilst in Turkey I decided to give it a go, after all, I was on holiday! The fact that the ‘European’ desserts (fruit crumble, chocolate cake, berry gateau) in the all-inclusive buffet were tasteless, as expected, certainly helped my decision to brave the counter filled with traditional Turkish cakes. As a lover of most desserts, I decided to try a different one everyday which meant that by the end of the week I had practically tried them all. On my final night I decided to get out my camera (yes I am that embarrassing tourist who takes photos of their food!) and review my favourite of the week. The response I received from the waiter to what the dish was called was impossible to understand, let alone reiterate, so I’m still not certain what the official name of this dessert is. Let’s face it, the majority of desserts found ‘buffet style’ aren’t a great resemblance of their home-made counter parts found in local restaurants, so unfortunately Google hasn’t provided me with a determined answer. The dessert is either a Hindistan Cevizli Pasta (a traditional Turkish coconut cake) or a Hindistan Cevizli Toplar (a coconut macaroon), either way it starts with Hindistan Cevizli which, unsurprisingly, means coconut. It can quite easily be described as coconut soaked in syrup. The syrup allows the coconut flakes to stick together and form a ball of sticky cake. Bear-in-mind its syrup content, it is best eaten with a spoon or a fork unless you don’t mind getting your hands sticky. The syrup was very intense and would have been too sickly if combined with something else, like biscuit or sponge. The combination of fresh coconut and rich syrup worked well together and I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, the thought of all that oil kept me from returning for seconds. My visit to Turkey and my experience of the coconut cake certainly changed my opinion of Middle Eastern desserts, but not so much that I would purchase one in the UK over a cupcake or chocolate brownie. On a recent visit to SOUK, a North African restaurant in Covent Garden, the table next to us ordered Baklava after their main meal and I wish I had ordered some too. Whereas previously, ordering dessert in a restaurant which wasn’t British/French/Italian had never crossed my mind. We had a lovely time in Turkey and great fun trying all the traditional dishes. It’s certainly opened up my eyes to the whole range of sweet treats that can be found across the globe, just waiting to be sampled by me.
Yaşam ömrü, seven kek
(living life, loving cake)