At the Courts of the Sultans

Coffee also came to Turkey in about 1500, thanks to a community of dervishes (Islamic mystics), who used it in their religious rituals. Coffee consumption rapidly became popular among all social classes, including sultans, and was soon incorporated into everyday life. The number of bars and cafes multiplied in just a few years: they were places where people could meet and relax, smoke and play cards, while others became cultural or artistic centres frequented by storytellers, musicians and intellectuals. Turkish coffee has always been made differently: no spices or aromas are used, a grinding machine is used instead of a mortar to crush the beans, while the coffee is boiled rapidly, not slowly as in the Arab and Oriental traditions. Even today, the result is a dark, liquorous and highly concentrated infusion, the perfect accompaniment to the refined, floral flavours of Turkish confectionery.

The recipes
Rahat loukoums
Rose water and pistachio jellies

A spiced version of the classic Turkish coffee, typical of the Egyptian city Alexandria.

250 g icing sugar
40 g hard wheat starch
6 dl water
210 g sugar cubes
1 tablespoon of rose water 50 g shelled pistachios or pine nuts

In a tin-plated copper or enamel pan, melt the starch and the sugar in water. Place the ingredients on the stove over a high flame and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. When the liquid starts to boil and thicken, lower the heat and continue mixing, making sure it does not adhere to the bottom. When it becomes actually thick and elastic, it is ready. Add the rosewater and the roughly chopped pistachios, mix well and lay on a lightly oiled rectangular oven pan. Let rest for about 24 hours, then cut as many small cubes as possible 2 cm (0.8”) in size, which are then to be dipped in the icing sugar before serving together with Turkish coffee.

Türk kahvesi
Turkish coffee
200 ml water
4 heaped teaspoons of Turkish coffee powder
4 teaspoons of sugar

Put the water in a Turkish coffeepot, add the sugar and the coffee powder, and stir gently. Put the coffeepot on the burner and let it come to a boil. When the coffee starts to bubble and is foamy on top, remove it from the burner. Using a teaspoon, put some of the foam into four cups. Put the coffeepot back on the burner for a few seconds but do not let it boil. Carefully pour the coffee into the cups to avoid ‘dewhip’ the coffee foam.