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Turkish delight
An assortment of Turkish delight on display in Istanbul
Alternative names Lokum
Type Confection
Place of origin Ottoman Empire (Turkey), or Arab people or Safavid Empire (Iran/Persia)
Serving temperature Room temperature
Main ingredients Starch, sugar
Variations Multiple

Turkish delight or lokum ( Ottoman Turkish: لوقوم) 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. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar to prevent clinging. Other common flavors include cinnamon and mint. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive.

The origin of Turkish delight is not precisely known, but the confection is known to have been produced in Turkey and Iran (Persia) as early as the late 18th century.


Sweets on Spice Bazaar in Istanbul 07
Turkish delights in Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
Turkish Delight
Rosewater-flavored Turkish delight
T Honey
Several Turkish Delight variants prominently featuring dried coconut
Turkish delight surrounded by layers of nougat and dried apricot
A variation on Turkish delight surrounded by layers of nougat and dried apricot
KaymakLokum (3)
Kaymak lokum, Turkish delight of cream, a speciality of Afyonkarahisar
Rahat cu aroma de fructe
Fruit-flavoured rahat from Romania

The exact origin of these sweets is yet to be definitively determined; however, the Turkish word lokum comes from the Arabic al-lukum. In the Arab world, Turkish delights are called رَاحَة الْحُلْقُوم (rāḥat al-ḥulqūm) which means 'throat comfort'.

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.

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". Similar Arab and Persian recipes, including the use of starch and sugar, predate Bekir by several centuries. The Oxford Companion to Food states that although Bekir is often credited with the invention, there is no hard evidence for it.

Turkish delight is often sold in hexagonal boxes.


The Turkish names lokma and lokum are derived from the Arabic word luqma(t) (لُقْمَة) and its plural luqam (لُقَم) meaning 'morsel' and 'mouthful' and the alternative Ottoman Turkish name, rahat-ul hulküm, was an Arabic formulation, rāḥat al-hulqūm (رَاحَةُ ٱلْحُلْقُوم‎), meaning 'comfort of the throat', which remains the name in formal Arabic. 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 ) or ʕagameyya, and in Lebanon 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), 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; 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). In the Indian subcontinent, a variant of it is known as Karachi halwa or Bombay halwa.

In English, it was formerly alternatively known as Lumps of Delight.

Around the world



In Bulgarian, Turkish delight is known as lokum (локум) and enjoys some popularity. While it presumably came with the Ottoman Empire, it may have arrived earlier. Bulgaria produces its own brands of lokum, which may be plain or spiced with rose petals, white walnuts, or "endreshe".


In Greece, Turkish delight, known as loukoumi [λουκούμι] has been a very 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.

Romania and Moldova

The Romanian word to describe this confection is rahat, an abbreviation of the Arabic rahat ul-holkum. However, in the Romanian language, the word rahat took a pejorative sense. According to linguist Lazăr Șăineanu, Turkish words which entered the Romanian language in the seventeenth century and eighteenth century became mostly obsolete and acquired a pejorative or ironic sense. Politically and socially, this weakened the influence of Ottoman society, and parts of the Ottoman Turkish language which had not had time to take root in the Romanian language took a touch of irony and became a mine for humorous literature. Rahat is eaten as is or is added in many Romanian cakes called cornulețe, cozonac or salam de biscuiţi [ro].

Albania and in some parts of former Yugoslavia

In the countries of former Yugoslavia that were under Ottomans (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Kosovo) as well as in Albania, Turkish delight is known as rahat-lokum, ratluk or lokum/llokum. It was introduced during Ottoman rule of the Balkans and has remained popular. Today it is commonly consumed with coffee. Rose and walnut are the most common flavorings.

Ireland, the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries

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

North America

The Nory Candy company in the Greater Los Angeles area has been producing Turkish Delights or Rahat Locum since 1964. The company produces different fruit and exotic flavors including rose and licorice as well a variety which include nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.

In 1930, two Armenian immigrants, Armen Tertsagian and Mark Balaban, founded Liberty Orchards of Cashmere, Washington, and began manufacturing Aplets (apple and walnut locoum) and Cotlets (apricot and walnut locoum). In 1984, they added the medley-flavored Fruit Delights line in strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple assortments. Although all of these confections are marketed under American-style brand names, they are described on product packaging as "Locoum".

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


The confection is known in Brazil as Manjar Turco, Delícia Turca, Bala de Goma Síria or Bala de Goma Árabe. As with most Middle Eastern dishes, it came with the Levantine Arab diaspora to Latin America.


The confection arrived in the Philippines through international trade, likely in the 19th or 20th century. The exact date is unknown. Its popularity, however, only became evident by the 1980's and the 1990's. The Filipino version of the sweet is called chewy gulaman. Gulaman translates to Filipino jelly. Traditionally, chewy gulaman is made from various types of sea plants thriving in the tropical Philippine islands. Once the jelly is formed and has a chewy consistency, it is then covered with either indigenous starch or Philippine coconut shavings to prevent clinging. In recent years, sugar is also used as a covering substitute. Most mass-produced chewy gulaman are nowadays covered in sugar, instead of the traditional coverings.


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. Some of the confectioners termed it Bombay Halwa to avoid its connection with a Pakistani city. 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.

Protected geographical indication

Despite its worldwide popularity and production in several countries, at present, the only protected geographical indication (PGI) for such a product is the name Λουκούμι Γεροσκήπου (Loukoumi Geroskipou) for Turkish delight made in Yeroskipou, Cyprus.

Related products

Sweets on Spice Bazaar in Istanbul 02
Turkish delights in Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

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

There are gourmand perfumes that are based upon Turkish Delight, such as "Loukhoum" by Ava Luxe, "Loukhoum" by Keiko Mecheri, and "Rahät Loukoum" by Serge Lutens.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Delicia turca (dulce) para niños

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