You might order a dessert in Turkey and be surprised at how delicious it is, be it a syrupy cough or a milky pudding. Yet sometimes their name is even more interesting to know. Here we list five traditional Turkish desserts with interesting names and unusually yummy tastes. Next time you try a new sweet, make sure you visit Google Translate!
Made by mixing deep-fried dough and syrup, Hanım Göbeği is a highly delicious Turkish dessert but attracts more attention with its name than its taste. It is originated in the Ottoman court cuisine then spread among the civil folks, finding itself a place in the traditional Turkish dishes selection. The name “Lady’s Navel” is based on its shape: it is a fluffy, round dessert with a dimple in the center, which resembles the belly button of a woman. How it is called signal the popularity of slightly round-bellied ladies as the beautiful type during the Ottoman era.
Although it is not exactly “dualı (prayerful)” but “duvalı” with a slight change in the letters, this is just a case of patent failure. Orhan Çiftçi, the patent owner, could not have the “dualı desert” name registered and chose “duvalı” instead. The story goes like this: one day, a friend asked the dessert chef who was keeping the recipe as secret to reveal the ingredients. The chef, Orhan Çiftçi’s father, turned down the stove and started praying. When his friend asked him what he was doing he answered: “I’m praying for this dessert.” That’s how people started to call it “prayerful dessert”, a delicious Turkish dessert highly favored by the residents of Bursa.
Even though the name sounds sweet and loving, the actual story is a sad one. There was a chef in Ottoman times who got famous for being a natural cook and making delicious dishes, yet he had a broken heart, crying over his lover “Dilber” whom he couldn’t come together with. To keep his memories of her alive, he wanted to prepare a dessert that resembles Dilber’s thick and fleshy lips. Rumor has it that the chef was repeating “I couldn’t get enough of neither your lips nor your smell,” while he was cooking the dessert. That's why this Tukish dessert is called "dilber dudağı".
Once upon a time, a sultan and his vizier went hunting. While hunting, the vizier accidentally cut off the sultan’s finger, vexing him badly. Madly upset, the sultan put him in prison the first thing when they returned to the palace. A few days later, he went hunting again only to come across cannibals in the forest. Such a twist of fate, the cannibals had strong beliefs about not eating people who lack body parts. The fingerless sultan found a way to escape back into the palace. When he got there, he rescued his vizier from the prison and thanked him from the bottom of his heart, understanding that everything happens for a reason. “My sultan, if you hadn’t thrown me in the prison, and brought me with you to your hunting session, the cannibals would surely eat me. You saved my life by locking me inside,” the vizier said in response. To make up for this unpleasant case between them, the sultan held a feast with various delicious dishes including a syrupy dessert which is thereby called “vezir parmağı” ever since.
As unusual as it may sound, this dessert actually contains chicken breast without the slightest flavor of the conventional chicken dishes. The story behind its name is just a simple fact yet its history goes back to the Roman times, later seen in the Byzantine and eventually in the Ottoman reign. While Europeans gradually left this delicacy behind, Ottomans embraced tavuk göğsü so much that it is regarded as a traditional Turkish dessert today. On the other hand, many people don’t recognize they are eating chicken breast until somebody says so. The reason why people don’t think it actually is made from chicken despite its obvious name is how common the interesting titles are, not only for desserts but also for main meals.