This recipe for Syrian Turkish delight, or Raha, makes chewy little squares of deliciousness that are usually served with Turkish coffee. They're sticky, sweet, and highly addictive. As a kid, I used to have them sandwiched in between tea biscuits. I can't even describe how the gooey texture of the Turkish delight mixed with the buttery, flaky texture of the biscuits feel. The way they smell and taste is indescribable and just instantly transport me to simpler times. And guess what, even though you'd usually buy them at a local candy or dessert shop, they're actually super simple to make at home, and are delicious with tea or coffee. But, he only downside to making them at home is that once you start eating, you won't be able to stop!!
What I Love About This Recipe
One thing I love about this recipe is that it's the basic, plain version of Syrian Turkish delight. I've tried so many different versions, but there's nothing like the sticky, chewy, plain Turkish delight. The plain version of Raha is probably the most common and has always been my favorite, but you can always get creative and add pistachios, walnuts, dried fruit, dates, food coloring, it's really up to you!! My personal favorite add-on would probably be chopped dates.
- White sugar: This dessert is definitely an indulgent treat because it's made of mostly sugar and water.
- Icing sugar: Some people make it with only course white sugar, but I find that icing sugar gives it a smoother texture.
- Cornstarch: Super important!! It gives your Raha the chewy, gooey texture that's so addicting. Just make sure it's fully dissolved before you heat it up to avoid lumps.
- Lemon Juice: Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice; store-bought ones change the flavor completely.
- Rose Water: If you know anything about Syrian cuisine, you'll know that there's barely a dessert that exists without this ingredient.
- Orange Blossom Water: Also a staple when it comes to Syrian desserts. The combination of rose and orange blossom water gives Syrian Turkish delight its distinct flavor.
Tips and Tricks
- Add water and then cornstarch instead of the opposite in order to avoid lumps.
- To make sure your Raha is ready to be taken off the stove, dip a small spoon in the Turkish delight mixture then dip it in a glass of cold water. If it stiffens, it's ready. But if it doesn't, keep stirring.
- Be patient when it's on the stove, it will take time to start firming up.
- Use an oiled spoon or rubber spatula to spread the mixture onto your pan or baking tray. Also, oil your knife before you cut it into cubes.
- While on the stove, stir continuously to avoid ending up with lumpy Raha.
- You could dust each piece with just cornstarch, or you could use a mixture of cornstarch and powdered sugar. You could also get creative by adding cinnamon for example.
What Makes Syrian Turkish Delight Chewy?
Traditionally, and in this recipe, you'd make Syrian Turkish delight with cornstarch. I've seen recipes that use gelatin, cream of tartar, and xanthan gum, but I personally find cornstarch the easiest to work with. And you'll also have no trouble finding it at any grocery store. After moving to Egypt a couple of years ago I've learned to make-do with what's available here, and I find that sticking to simple ingredients is always the best option.
You'll need a deeper dish or baking tray. Since you'll be lining it with baking paper before pouring in your Turkish delight mixture anyways, the material of the tray itself won't really matter. For this recipe, use a smaller tray. I used a 7" x 11" pyrex dish (it has a 5" x 8" base). It was the perfect size and made around 35 squares.
You will also need:
- Parchment paper
- Spatula or wooden spoon
- Mixing bowls
You should definitely store them in the fridge, and in a metal or glass container. Plastic containers have the tendency to make sugar "sweat". Since this recipe is free of gelatin and xanthan gum, the Turkish delight might eventually start to get wet. If this happens, just dust with more cornstarch before serving. Compared to store-bought raha, the homemade version does have a more fragile texture so you'll need to serve it cold instead of letting it sit out at room temperature.