Turkish delight, or lokum (/lɔ.kʊm/) is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are often flavored with rosewater, mastic gum, bergamot orange, or lemon. Other common flavors include cinnamon and mint. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar to prevent clinging. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive.[6]

An assortment of Turkish delight on display in Istanbul
Place of originSafavid (Name of Iran)[1] or the Ottoman Empire (Turkey)[2]
Serving temperatureRoom temperature
Main ingredientsStarch, sugar[3][4][5]
Ingredients generally usedFruit, nuts, honey

The origin of lokum is not precisely known, though the confection is known to have been produced in the Ottoman Empire, Greece and Greek populations in Asia Minor[7] and Safavid Azerbaijan since the late 18th century.


Rosewater-flavored Turkish delight
Several Turkish Delight variants prominently featuring dried coconut
A variation on Turkish delight surrounded by layers of nougat and dried apricot
Kaymak lokum, Turkish delight of cream, a specialty of Afyonkarahisar
Fruit-flavored rahat from Romania

The exact origin of these sweets is yet to be definitively determined, partly due to the origins being fiercely contested amongst Greeks and Turks.

Turkish claims


According to the Hacı Bekir company, Bekir Efendi, named Hacı Bekir after performing the Hajj, moved to Constantinople from his hometown Kastamonu and opened his confectionery shop in the district of Bahçekapı in 1777. He produced various kinds of candies and lokum, later including a unique form of lokum made with starch and sugar. The family business, now in its fifth generation, still operates under the founder's name.[8]

Questioning of Turkish claims


Tim Richardson, a historian of sweets, has questioned the popular attribution of Hacı Bekir as the inventor of Turkish delight, writing that "specific names and dates are often erroneously associated with the invention of particular sweets, not least for commercial reasons".[1] Similar Arab and Persian recipes, including the use of starch and sugar, predate Bekir by several centuries.[9] The Oxford Companion to Food states that although Bekir is often credited with the invention, there is no hard evidence for it.[10]

Greek claims


Some sources indicate that the concept of Loukoumi dates back to Byzantine times.[11] Regardless, the sweet may have been re-invented since, though this is subject to heavy debate.



The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) (لُقْمَة) and its plural luqam (لُقَم) meaning 'morsel' and 'mouthful'[12] and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm,[13] was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm (رَاحَةُ ٱلْحُلْقُوم‎), meaning 'comfort of the throat', which remains the name in formal Arabic.[14]

In Libya, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Tunisia it is known as ḥalqūm, while in Kuwait it is called كبده الفرس kabdat alfaras; in Egypt it is called malban (ملبن [ˈmælbæn]) or ʕagameyya, and in Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria rāḥa (راحة). Its name in various Eastern European languages comes from Ottoman Turkish lokum (لوقوم) or rahat-ul hulküm. Its name in Greek, λουκούμι (loukoumi) shares a similar etymology with the modern Turkish and it is marketed as Greek Delight. In Cyprus, where the dessert has protected geographical indication (PGI),[15][16] it is also marketed as Cyprus Delight. In Armenian it is called lokhum (լոխում). It is läoma ܠܥܡܐ in Assyrian. Its name in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel is rahat lokum, and derives from a very old confusion of the two names found already in Ottoman Turkish;[13] indeed this mixed name can also be found in Turkey today. Its name in Serbo-Croatian is ratluk (ратлук), a reduced form of the same name. In Persian, it is called rāhat-ol-holqum (راحت الحلقوم).[17] In the Indian subcontinent, a variant of it is known as Karachi halwa or Bombay halwa. In Hungary it is called szultán kenyér (Sultan's bread).

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as "lumps of delight".[18]

Around the world






In Bulgarian, Turkish delight is known as lokum (локум) and enjoys some popularity.



In Armenia, Turkish delight is known as lokhum (լոխում) and is used for various sweets. For example It is used to make Cigarette cookies, (Armenian: սիգարետ թխվածքաբլիթներ) which are soft cookies that are rolled into the form of a cigarette. They are filled with either lokhum, a mixture of sugar, cardamom, and walnuts, or a combination of both. The dough mainly consists of matzoon, butter, eggs, and flour. When finished the pastry gets dusted with powdered sugar.[19][20]

Greece and Cyprus


In Greece, Turkish delight, known as loukoumi (λουκούμι), has been a popular delicacy since the 19th century, famously produced in the city of Patras (Patrina loukoumia) as well as on the island of Syros and the northern Greek cities Thessaloniki, Serres and Komotini but elsewhere as well. Loukoumi is a common traditional treat, routinely served instead of biscuits along with coffee. In addition to the common rosewater and bergamot varieties, mastic-flavored loukoumi is available and very popular. Another sweet, similar to loukoumi, that is made exclusively in the town of Serres, is Akanés. Cyprus is the only country that has a protected geographical indication (PGI) for this product: Loukoumi made in Yeroskipou is called Λουκούμι Γεροσκήπου (loukoumi geroskipou).[21]



In Romania, Turkish delight is called rahat and it is eaten as is or is added in many Romanian cakes called cornulețe, cozonac or salam de biscuiţi.[22]


In Serbia it is commonly known as ratluk and as well served along tea and coffee.

Former Ottoman territories in the Balkans


Turkish delight was introduced to European portions of the Ottoman Empire under its rule and has remained popular. Today it is commonly consumed with coffee. Rosewater and walnut are the most common flavorings.[citation needed]

Ireland, the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries


Fry's Turkish Delight, created in 1914,[9] is marketed by Cadbury in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand. It is rosewater-flavored, and covered on all sides in milk chocolate. UK production moved to Poland in 2010.[23] Hadji Bey was an Armenian emigrant to Ireland who in 1902 set up an eponymous company – still in existence – to produce rahat lokoum for the Irish and later UK markets.

North America


In Canada, the Big Turk chocolate bar made by Nestlé consists of dark magenta Turkish Delight coated in milk chocolate.



In Karachi, now in Pakistan, the "Karachi halwa" was made with corn flour and ghee and became quite popular. It is said to have been developed by Chandu Halwai which later relocated to Bombay (Mumbai) after the partition in 1947.[24] Some of the confectioners termed it Bombay Halwa to avoid its connection with a Pakistani city. [25] In the year 1896, a confectioner Giridhar Mavji who ran a shop Joshi Budhakaka Mahim Halwawala attempted to replace the starch with wheat flour and thus invented Mahim halwa which consists of flat sheets. [26]

Turkish delights in Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

Turkish delight was an early precursor to the jelly bean, inspiring its gummy interior.[27][28]


Turkish delight features as the enchanted confection the White Witch uses to gain the loyalty of Edmund Pevensie in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) by C. S. Lewis.[29] Sales of Turkish delight rose following the theatrical release of the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.[30]

Cultural significance


Turkish delight holds deep cultural significance in Greece, Turkey, Iran, and across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. It symbolizes hospitality, generosity, and celebration. In Turkey, lokum is a staple during festive occasions such as weddings, where it symbolizes sweetness and prosperity in the couples' life together.[31] Similarly, during religious festivals like Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, it is exchanged as gifts among family and friends. In Greece, loukoumi is a symbol of hospitality and refinement.[7] It is commonly served to guests alongside tea or coffee, representing warmth and respect for visitors.[32] Lokum's sweet taste is often seen as a metaphor for the sweetness of life and relationships, making it a beloved symbol of joy and togetherness.

See also



  1. ^ a b Richardson, Tim (2003). Sweets, a History of Temptation. London: Bantam Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-553-81446-X.
  2. ^ Roufs, Timothy G.; Roufs, Kathleen Smyth (2014). Sweet Treats around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 343–346. ISBN 978-1-61069-220-5.
  3. ^ "طريقة عمل الملبن السوري الشهير". Dlwaqty (in Arabic). Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  4. ^ "مقادير وطريقة عمل الملبن". موضوع (in Arabic). Retrieved 1 October 2023.
  5. ^ Grimes, Lulu. "Turkish delight". GoodFood. BBC. Retrieved 16 November 2023.
  6. ^ "Loukoumi: Traditional Greek Candy". Mykonos Life. Retrieved 2024-06-06.
  7. ^ a b "The Fascinating History of Greek Loukoumia, or Turkish Delights". Greek Reporter.
  8. ^ "Haci Bekir, Turkey's Oldest Company, Has Been Sweetening the Mouth for 242 Years". Hacı Bekir. 18 March 2022.
  9. ^ a b Brown, Jonathan (5 December 2005). "The Lion, the Witch & the Turkish Delight". The Independent. London. Retrieved 5 December 2005.
  10. ^ Davidson, Alan (21 August 2014). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-104072-6 – via Google Books.
  11. ^ "DIET AND CUISINE | History of Istanbul". istanbultarihi.ist. Retrieved 2024-06-06.
  12. ^ Diran Kélékian, Dictionnaire Turc–Français (Ottoman Turkish), 1911
  13. ^ a b James Redhouse, A Turkish and English Dictionary, 1856, p.707.
  14. ^ Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, 1966, p.365
  15. ^ "Council Regulation (EC) No 510/2006". Official Journal of the European Union. 21 April 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Commission Regulation (EC) No 1485/2007". Official Journal of the European Union. 14 December 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2015.
  17. ^ Colin Turner, A Thematic Dictionary of Modern Persian, 2004
  18. ^ Kay, Christian; Roberts, Jane; Samuels, Michael; Wotherspoon, Iriné, eds. (2009). Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. OL 23951545M.
  19. ^ "Cigarette Cookies". Heghineh.
  20. ^ Bodic, Slavka (31 May 2020). Ultimate Armenian Cookbook. Amazon Digital Services LLC - KDP Print US. ISBN 979-8650129738.
  21. ^ "DOOR". Ec.europa.eu. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  22. ^ Marks, Gil (2010). Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. Wiley. ISBN 978-0-470-94354-0.
  23. ^ Bouckley, Ben. (30 July 2010). "Final UK-made Cadbury Crunchie bars from September". Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  24. ^ History halwa, Paromita Vohra, Mid-Day, 22 November,2020
  25. ^ The History of Bombay Halwa, 11/1/2021
  26. ^ A sweet invention: Tracing the history of one of Mumbai's most famous halwas and its creator, Yogessh Pawar, DNA, Dec 05, 2017
  27. ^ Moncel, Bethany. "The History of Jelly Beans". About.com. Archived from the original on 6 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  28. ^ Olver, Lynne (9 January 2015). "history notes-candy". The Food Timeline. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  29. ^ Strickland, Cara (3 August 2016). "Why Was Turkish Delight C.S. Lewis's Guilty Pleasure?". JSTOR Daily.
  30. ^ Reilly, Susan (17 February 2006). "Turkish Delight Sales Jump After Narnia Chronicles". Info.nhpr.org. Archived from the original on 8 November 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  31. ^ "What Does Turkish Delight Symbolise?". Marsel Delights UK LTD. 2023-02-01. Retrieved 2024-04-22.
  32. ^ Yaşar, Amine Berra (2018-08-04). "More than a sweet tooth: Ceremonial desserts of Turkish cuisine". Daily Sabah. Retrieved 2024-04-22.