Dondurma (Turkish Ice-cream)
1st July 2008 | 09:00 AET
"Dondurma" is Turkish for "icecream" but this is icecream with a difference. For a start, you eat it with a knife and fork. It’s made with a unique ingredient too – sahlep, a natural gum produced from ground wild mountain orchids. At Sydney’s Mado café, icecream maestro Mehmet Kanbur carries on a tradition born in the Turkish city of Maras.
Sahlep is the dried powdered root of a wild orchid that grows in southern Turkey. It’s used as a thickener for a hot milk drink that is very popular in Turkey - but is also the natural gum that goes to give Maras icecream its unique flavour and texture.
Icecream master Mehmet Kanbur is from the southern Turkish city of Maras, where he began the Mado icecream shops – now franchised all over the world. Not only do they sell beautiful fruit ices (karsambac) but they specialise in what’s referred to as the “white” dondurma - milky, nougat-like icecream. This special icecream is boiled, stirred, aerated and churned – both by hand and machine – to get an amazing texture. It takes a couple of hours to prepare it. You can eat it with a knife and fork because it melts very slowly and doesn’t have that icy consistency you sometimes get with milk-based icecreams.
Sahlep, known also as sahlab and saloop, was used to make a popular drink in 17th century England and is also prized for its health properties. It comes mainly from orchids native to Asia Minor but is actually grown all over the world – even in Germany and India. It’s said to be good for stomach irritations and gastro-intestinal problems. The drink is still available in Turkey and in Turkish cafes in Australia – it is served hot with a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg.