Friday feeling: fitil

Specialist Turkish delight hand-rolled in Bursa and packed with pistachios

‘If you’ve tried one type of Turkish delight, you’ve tried them all’ runs the saying—or rather, is something somebody’s likely said at one time or another. If such a thought has ever crossed your mind, we urge you to head to The Turkish Deli: their jewel-like jellied treats pop up in new and exciting flavours regularly. This time, something wholly unknown to us caught our eye: fitil.

These bright, nutty, tubular numbers are a rare find—and not just on these shores: “They’re quite specialist, not many people make them,” says stall owner Graham. “You wouldn’t find them at your average Turkish bazaar.” They’re made similarly to the dense cuboids we’re used to—traditionally, by hand, in Bursa, in The Turkish Deli’s case—except for being rolled as opposed to cut. “Otherwise the process is the same. The sugar, water, corn starch liquid is boiled in cauldrons with burning fires underneath, which gives a better heat,” Graham explains. “There are no thermometers; the guy who makes it is so good at it, he knows when it’s ready just by eye. It is amazing.”

Blood-red pomegranates
The flavours are ever-changing: soon there’ll be raspberry “which is stunning”; at the moment there’s classic pomegranate “made with the fresh, natural juice of huge, blood-red pomegranates, harvested at their peak, in the Turkish winter”; milk “which is unusual—historically Turkish delight has no dairy, but we decided to try it and it works well”; and honey.

Naturally we opted for all three, enjoying the creamy milk, warming honey and fresh burst of pomegranate by turns, revelling in the contrasting squidge of the soft sweets and crunch of the suspended pistachios—demolishing the lot, straight from the bag.