The etymology of the word loukoum is uncertain. It seems to come from the Turkish lokum, which in turn derives from the Arabic rahat-ul holkum. It is believed to a corruption of the Turkish word lokma, meaning "piece." In Turkish, rahat means "peace" or "contentment," so an accurate translation would be "piece of contentment."
Turkish loukoum should not be confused with Greek loukoum, made with mastic, a strongly flavored resin.
Loukoum will keep for six months in an airtight container at room temperature.
There's nothing like the Turkish delight you find piled high in pastry shop windows or from Arab shops, but you can always make it yourself.
- In a small saucepan set over low heat, dissolve the sugar in half the flavored water.
- In a bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining flavored water. Add a few drops (very little) of food coloring.
- Blend the cornstarch solution into the sugar mixture in the saucepan.
- Continue cooking until the mixture has thickened and comes away from the sides of the pot. The sugar must never caramelize, or else you will have to start over. To know when the mixture is done, take 1 tsp. of the mixture and drop it into ice water. If the ball that forms is soft and elastic, it's ready.
- Add in the lightly toasted pistachios or almonds for more flavor.
- Pour the hot mixture into a buttered pan and smooth the top. Let stand at room temperature for several hours.
- Cut into bite-sized pieces and roll them in icing sugar.
Photo: Grand Turkish Bazaar
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