Oh, Turkish Delight you ubiquitous saccharine Turkish representative.
I had begun to avoid your gaze whilst walking past Duty Free, or while you sat idly on the rim of my Turkish coffee cup or in those heavily ornamented glass bowls during Bayram. I grew weary of your dusted and square form all perfectly aligned in store windows; a sight now too common in Istanbul. But, alas, you recaptured my interest when you made the transition from the mass-produced to the handmade and made-to-order dimension. I stepped up to a counter a Sahi Istanbul and picked out my own ingredients so that the Lokum expert before me could festoon the sweet gel and then roll it into my very own concoction. If you have a strained relationship with the overtly popular Turkish dessert (like me), than “Make Your Own Turkish Delight,” at Sahi is the cure.
So where did Turkish Delight come from? Even though the exact origin of the dessert continues to be researched, it’s believed to have been ordained by Sultan Abdülhamid I of the 18th century, who had grown tired of hard candy. After its invention, the confection went wild, with flavors like mastic and rose and ingredients like walnuts and pistachios making frequent appearances. Today, Turkish Delight is that sweet thing in a box you take back with you after a visit to Turkey. But it doesn’t have to be, because now it can be that thing that was handmade according to your whims.
So let’s talk about Sahi Istanbul. An answer to the ever-popular question, “where can I get original Istanbul souvenirs,” Sahi is a modern take on the gift giving tradition and befittingly located in the city’s trendiest neighborhood (Karaköy). Apart from the Turkish Delight (either ready in a box or made-to-order), Sahi’s range includes, chocolates, fashion accessories, decorative items, kitchen accessories and tools, bath accessories, personal items, block/print goods, İznik tile objects, books, and textiles.
Of course, to list them as such wouldn’t be fair, because every item does have a little story, like the handmade Kutnu Series backpack from Gaziantep, peshtemals hand woven on traditional handlooms, natural olive oil and laurel soap from Mardin, or specially made handmade porcelain pieces by local designers (to name a few). If you’re a bit indecisive, Sahi’s Urban Culture Sets, like the Hammam or Turkish Tea Set, are lovely little traditional gift options.
And so after you’re done perusing and spending your money, you can also sit down at Sahi Karaköy’s café and patisserie. Serving up traditional flavors according to authentic recipes, you’ll find original tastes like Nevzine dessert from the Kayseri region. Speaking of authentic, baklava, the other ubiquitous Turkish dessert, is also present, and is made daily and sent in from Gaziantep by Ömer Güllü. So take a seat on the terrace, surrounded by the Bosphorus at Karaköy’s bay, the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque (a Mimar Sinan work), and the century old Sycamores of Tophane and appreciate Istanbul for what it’s worth (or, if you’re not even in Istanbul, take a trip through Sahi’s online shop.)
Sahi İstanbul: Kemankeş Kara Mustafa Paşa Mahallesi, Kılıç Ali Paşa Mescit Sokak No:2, Karaköy. P: +90 212 244 6363
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