The Turkish Ice Cream You Eat With A Fork And Knife

Visit Turkey, and you may come across vendors waving ice cream and cones through the air, tricking leery customers with sleight-of-hand tricks and swirling treats. This is tradition, assures Atlas Obscura, and the treats being flipped around in the air is a special kind of ice cream.

Unlike typical ice creams that melt easily in warmer temperatures, Turkish ice cream has real staying power. It's thick, chewy, and surprisingly resistant to summer heat (via Turkey Travel Centre). In fact, this ice cream can be served at restaurants on plates, and it's not uncommon to see someone eating this unique dessert with a fork and knife. Yummy Istanbul explains the stretchy texture of this ice cream is due in part to salep, powdered orchid bulbs found in Turkey's Kahramanmaraş, the place for which the novelty is named.

Production of the ice cream once threatened the existence of the unique orchid, even prompting Turkish government officials to restrict exporting the product, but Turkish ice cream has only increased in popularity (per Turkey Travel Centre).

A chewy treat

Kahramanmaraş is known as Turkey's ice cream capital, notes Turkey Travel Centre, and the name of the ice cream — Maraş dondurma or dondurma — is derived from the place. Dondurma is the Turkish word for "freezing," aptly describing this interesting dessert, notes Atlas Obscura.

According to Go Turkiye, a few stories surround the creation of the chewy ice cream, with one vendor storing and forgetting sahlep (also known as sachlav), a hot beverage made from powdered orchid and milk, in a snow bank. When the man returned, the product had turned into ice cream.

The purple orchid used to make this ice cream is found only in the area surrounding Kahramanmaraş, explains Go Turkiye, and traditional versions of the ice cream are made with milk from goats. Mastic gum can also be added to the concoction, and the mixture is whisked before being left to cool in a freezer.

To try to make your own version of stretchy ice cream, Give Recipe admits the hand-churning process can take some endurance and patience, and there is no substitution for salep powder. The ingredient can be difficult to track down outside of Turkey, but some specialty markets may sell it. Use pasteurized milk, and regular granulated white sugar, and then consider including mastic into the mix to add unique flavor and texture to the chewy dessert.