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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The most ancient Turkish pudding is aşure (related to the English flummery, frumenty, or fluffin; the Greek and Romanian koliva; Armenian anuş abur; Russian kutya; Sephardic Jewish kofyas; and Chinese ba bao zou), whose roots go back to harvest rituals in the Neolithic period when wheat was first domesticated at Karacadağ in eastern Turkey. See wheat berries.

Sweet dishes with a Central Asian stamp are güllaç (“rose food,” the pudding made of transparent starch wafers soaked in syrup or sweetened milk) and sweet pastries like baklava made with layers of thin pastry that were a staple of nomadic Turcoman cuisine. See filo. Pastries soaked in honey or sugar syrup originate in medieval Arab cuisine, itself rooted in earlier Sasanian (224–651) Persian cuisine. In Ottoman Turkish cuisine, some of these pastries, such as yassi kadayif (a yeast-risen griddle cake soaked in syrup), continued almost unchanged after the medieval period, while new types such as baklava emerged in the early fifteenth century. See baklava. Other contributions of the Persian or Arab cuisines to Turkish confectionery are the earliest sweets—sugar candy, peynir şekeri (pulled sugar), koz helvasi (nougat), and sugared almonds—as well as puddings like flour helva, muhallebi (milk pudding made with rice flour), and saffron-scented zerde. Tavukgöğüsü (milk pudding thickened with shredded chicken breast), another dish of Arab origin that later spread to Western European cuisines, survives today only in Turkey, where it is also made in a caramelized version known as kazandibi, an innovation of the nineteenth century. See blancmange.