Monday, 26 November 2012

Istanbul.. the quest to find the stretchy ice cream of Maras

Peds and I have just returned from a lovely trip to Istanbul. As well as sampling some fantastic Turkish food such as vine leaves stuffed with sour cherries and pine nuts and ogling at magnificent buildings dating back to 500 AD, the purpose of this trip was to explore the extraordinary ice cream known as 'Maras Dondurma' -From the city of KahramanmaraƟ where it was first developed

'Salep' a flour made from the tubers of the increasingly rare wild orchid is the key ingredient that gives the ice cream a distinct chewy and stretchy like consistency.
Ice cream sellers fill the streets of Istanbul with their tricks of the trade.. demonstrated here by this chappy who served me a giant lemon ice cream before whipping it away and leaving me with an empty cone.

'Sahlep'- (rather confusingly) is a comforting hot drink the Turks make in winter dusted with cinnamon sold on the streets and ice cream bars.

Peds and I are huge fans of this exotic milk ice cream- it featured on our menu over the summer with Middle Eastern inspired flavours such as cardamom and pistachio brittle. Interestingly, in Turkey we discovered simple, regular flavours such as chocolate and lemon which worked very well with this style of ice cream. But, the flavour that wins hands down is one our favourite ingredients.. gum mastic.