Hakiki is a heavenly Turkish ice-cream parlour which opened recently in Newtown. If you haven’t tried an Ottoman Empire style ice-cream rush there ASAP! It is a unique experience you will never forget! You do not lick an Ottoman ice-cream, you chew it…
I have tried my first “chewing-gum ice-cream” in Lebanon years ago in many different flavours, then when I moved to Greece where it was often flavoured with mastic and decorated with a sour cherry coulis. Mastic is the sap of a tree originating from the Greek island of Chios. This is the ancestor of chewing gum as it has been chewed since antique times for its elastic properties and pine flavour. If you chew on a few dry droplets of this sap, it becomes white-greyish and looks like an industrial chewing-gum :)
But this is not the mastic that gives this chewiness (is that a word?) to the ice-cream it is actually an orchid! This orchid has little roots called tubers which are dried and grounded to a powder called sahlep. It is used in ice-cream and many desserts in all the countries once part of the Ottoman Empire. Sahlep means fox’s testicles… I know… The little tubers look like them I guess. Also you might already know this but orchid, orchis in Greek, means testicle… The Romans used to consume a drink made with sahlep which was famous for fertility. In today’s Istanbul sahlep hot drink vendors screaming saaaaleeeep in the streets still tell male clients that it’s good for their “health” with a little wink :)
Sahlep has extraordinary properties such as making liquid thicker and iced liquid elastic. It is not an easy process, you need a fair dose of elbow grease. You will have to boil milk, sahlep and sugar to a custard, then let it cook on low temperature for 40 minutes and then freeze it. When it begins to freeze, you will need to whisk it many, many, many times, every 30 minutes to make it elastic. The more you work it, the chewier it gets! It is hard work but it is worth it.
Once it is done, the ice-cream looks like chewing gum (check out the photo above, the lady has just “pulled” a scoop of ice-cream with strings!)
Turkish ice-cream is supposedly originated from the town of Maraş in Southern Turkey. This is why Hakiki “plain” sahlep ice-cream is called Maraş. They offer many different flavours which are all very interesting or traditional.
On this picture above, on the left, you see the traditional way of selling ice-cream in the streets of Istanbul. Street vendors walk around with an ice-cream trolley with metal domes and a metal stick they use to stir and elastify the ice-cream. To amuse tourists, they fill a cone with the elastic and sticky ice-cream, stick it to the metal pole and put it in people’s pocket. It’s pretty funny.
This is my absolute favourite: Turkish delight. This is THE one you have to try first and the most authentic one to my opinion.
This one is pomegranate of course and it tastes very nice. It is very subtle. I prefer the heavy artillery which is the Turkish delight :)
This one was melon and feta. I haven’t tried it but it sounded wonderful.
This one is pistachio, with real Turkish small pistachios. It is very nice!
This one is baklava of course :) I haven’t tried it yet.
And this one is a very traditional sour cherry coulis.
Now it is your turn to try and mine to read what you have to say!