fine food - Turkish delight

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Few foods are as intrinsically linked with their origin as Turkish delight. Craig Butcher talks with the founders of Divan, a leading Istanbul hotel and famed patisserie, about how they put the delight into Turkish delight.


For over 50 years, the Divan hotel in central Istanbul has been synonymous with upscale accommodation and the finer things in life – such as its famed patisserie. With the patisserie now part of a modern-day Ottoman Empire spanning the country, delicious pastries including its Turkish delight and Divan Special Cake are available from Istanbul to Ankara.

While the Divan empire has grown, so has its attention to detail. When their patisserie opened in 1956, expert chocolatiers and patissiers from Switzerland arrived to share their craft with Turkish chefs. Those same Turkish chefs in turn travelled abroad to improve their knowledge, returning home to show off their new-found culinary skills.

With a name derived from a ‘long, cushioned seat’ to mean ‘exemplary comfort’, Divan’s ambition has always been to showcase superb quality products in a chic and modern environment with comfort and delight at its core. The result is that modern Divan patisseries showcase a Parisian style together with Turkish traditions.

From chocolates and macaroons to cakes and pastries, this luxury hotel group excels at luxury confectionery. Of particular note are the pistachio-flavoured Turkish delight, the signature Rokoko ice-cream cake, and the Divan Special – a cake of chocolate cream and chocolate chips between layers of chocolate and vanilla sponge.

Coming soon are individually wrapped Neapolitan chocolates and a new praline chocolate line launching in the next few months. Later in 2015, the first Divan patisserie in Qatar will open at Lagoona Mall in the West Bay area of Doha.

A Divan Turkish delight selection is now available in Marmalade Market at Hamad International Airport in Doha.


What is Turkish delight?

Known as lokum in Turkish, meaning ‘mouthful’, Turkish delight is a jelly-like sugar-based sweet traditionally flavoured with rosewater, bergamot or lemon, with upscale versions encasing whole dates, hazelnuts, or pistachios. It became a popular gift among the aristocracy in Europe, and particularly England, in the 19th century.

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