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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

WE FOUND VEGAN TURKISH DELIGHT IN ISTANBUL, TÜRKIYE!

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


Please note that due to the current economic situation in Türkiye, prices are very variable and may change rapidly. The prices quotes are those we paid in October 2023 - please check current menus for the most up to date prices.


Welcome back to the incredible city of Istanbul, our first stop on our journey through Türkiye! If you haven't checked out our first blog from the city yet, last week we sampled perhaps the world's most famous Turkish dish, döner kebab, made vegan! From our very first taste of its plant-based Turkish food, Istanbul really impressed us: so we couldn't wait to try some more!


After that taste of famous savoury Turkish deliciousness, we decided that we had to try something sweet too. So that's how we happened across what is definitely Türkiye's most famous sweet snack. It's sweet, it's gelatinous... it's Turkish Delight, of course!


But wait, what exactly is Turkish Delight?

Most well known as those powdered sugar dusted rosewater cubes, Turkish delight actually comes in many different forms: from the cubes that are known across the world, to rolls with every flavour from Nutella to pistachio, and even cornflakes!


While the exported versions of Turkish delight that you find across the world are generally not suitable for vegetarians, let alone vegans, due to the gelatine used in the mix, did you know that traditional Turkish Delight is actually vegan?


It's true! Traditional Turkish Delight is made from a mix of corn starch and sugar, boiled together and left to set for up to 24 hours, with flavours and colours added to make different varieties. Gelatine is only added to mass-produced Turkish Delight to make it set faster! So - while there will be some non-vegan Turkish Delight that you come across in Türkiye - most Turkish Delight should be completely safe for your consumption!


Where did we try vegan Turkish Delight in Istanbul?

There are so many places that you can find Turkish Delight in Istanbul, from small shops to market stalls and supermarkets. But we headed to the most iconic place for shopping in Istanbul: The Grand Bazaar!


If you head to the Grand Bazaar you'll find countless stalls selling Turkish Delight (also known as lokum), but expect to have to barter! We politely left several stalls trying to sell it for extortionate prices before we found the two stalls that we bought our Turkish Delight at.


Make sure to always ask which Turkish Delight is vegan: remember that some may include gelatine, and the rolled versions of the sweet might include milk in the ingredients too. We found several stallholders that could give us the ingredients of each in detail, so we felt very safe with the choices that we made.


So come on - tell us all about the Turkish Delight! How did it taste?

Absolutely delightful! Neither of us had tried Turkish delight before, since the versions we get in the UK contain gelatine. So we had no idea what to expect, and to be honest neither of us expected to like it. But wow, were we surprised!


The traditional cubed Turkish Delight was so much lighter than we expected, with a really pleasant flavour that wasn't too overpowering. We selected five different flavours (which you can see in more detail in the video at the bottom of this post) and were really enchanted by the texture - which was chewier and less gelatinous than I expected! I loved the fruitiness of the pomegranate flavour, while Mike really enjoyed the rosewater one with its delicately floral yet really nice and sweet taste.


My favourite of the Turkish delights we chose though were the fancier rolled versions. I loved tasting all the different complex flavours and texture combinations - they were certainly a lot more complex and I thought they were really exciting. While the best of these for me was the chewy and crunchy pomegranate ones, I also absolutely loved the strangeness of the cornflake Turkish Delight. These were so much fun to eat and we loved that we could keep eating this dish for weeks afterwards, we ended up buying so much!


How much did the plant-based Turkish Delight cost - and was it worth it?

Because we bought our Turkish Delight from the Grand Bazaar it was a fair bit more expensive than if we had brought it from a small stall elsewhere in the country, but we were still very happy with the prices we paid!


For 300g of the traditional cubed Turkish delight we paid 100₺ (approx. £2.87, €3.28 or $3.50), whilst the fancy rolls of Turkish Delight cost us 350₺ for 500g (approx. £10.03, €11.49 or $12.26). This was a lot of Turkish Delight! Note that if you get as much as we did you definitely shouldn't eat it all at once! You should only eat 4-6 pieces of Turkish Delight per day, as the high amount of sugar and corn starch can cause it to have a laxative effect!


Overall we were really happy with the Turkish Delight that we tried: it was so delicious and we loved being able to try so many different types of this dessert that had been off limits to us for so long outside of Türkiye! We highly recommend trying this while you're in the country!


Have you tried vegan Turkish Delight in Türkiye? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.



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Where should I stay?

Istanbul is huge, with so many different accommodation options - and lots of popular areas for tourists to stay in too. Wherever you want to be in Istanbul, you'll find a wealth of options for hotels, guesthouses, hostels, B&Bs, and entire apartments and homes to rent. For real cost-effective solutions, check out Agora Guesthouse & Hostel, one of Istanbul's most highly rated hostels which has both private en-suite and dorm rooms, an on-site bar and includes a free buffet breakfast too. For more of a private option, with a Turkish breakfast thrown in too, Second Home Suites is a popular choice, with excellent facilities on offer to all guests.


Tours & Experiences


You wouldn't believe how much there is to see and do in Istanbul! One of the most popular ways to see the city is with a cruise on the Bosphorus river - and this particular Yacht Cruise is very highly rated: its route includes a short stop in the Asian side of Istanbul too.


If you're in Istanbul for a short time and want to see as much as possible, consider a guided tour: this one includes transport between the many famous (but far apart) sites in this historic city.


Alternatively, if that's not for you, check out one of Viator's most favourite and highly rated tours and experiences on the left!


Please note that the tours displayed on the left are automatically selected for their popularity by Viator, not chosen or recommended by us. Please check whether any food or drink based tours are suitable for your dietary requirements, and any animal-based experiences are ethical, before booking!

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