Ice-cream is definitely the queen of desserts, but Turkey literally stretches this sweet truth a little too far. Who hasn’t witnessed a costumed Turkish ice-cream vendor pulp and stretch a sticky mass of deliciousness before tossing the mass into the air, teasing the customer with his “hiding tricks” and handing it over just when the patience is about to snap?
Meet dondurma, a type of Turkish icecream that is different from anything you’ve tasted before. You may swear by baklava or lokum but this gravity-defying goodness has taken the world by storm lately, its fame stretching beyond the Turkish borders gaining the reputation as the ice-cream that stretches. There are many reasons to this – dondurma can be eaten holding the cone upside down, thus defying laws of gravity and it doesn’t melt – not even in the hot summers of Turkey.
Turkish ice-cream vendors have their acts honed to perfection , because, according to them it is the trick that lends itself to the joys of eating it. It is believed to have originated in the 1850s in Turkey ’s Kahramanmaras region , with chocolate and vanilla flavours being the all-time favourite till it went international and added pistachios, strawberry and raspberry to its growing range of flavours.
If ever there was an ice-cream type designed to bring out the child in you, it was dondurma. You will easily find it all over Turkey and no matter how much the vendor teases you with it, there will always be a smile on your face when it finally lands in your hand . Whether you live in Turkey or are just visiting, dondurma must be at the top of the list of all-things delicious. And yes, you can eat it with a fork and spoon, if you wish.
Buying the ice-cream is as much of a novelty as eating it – the Fes-capped men wearing traditional robes entertain the buyer (and the crowd) with every sale. You cannot miss them even if you tried – they can be seen everywhere, setting up shop in their traditional ice-cream carts and ringing their bells with the long dondurma scoop. Well, if you can’t hear then, follow the crowd – eventually everyone ends up at a dondurma cart.
Dondurma is an excellent way to cool down on a hot Istanbul summer afternoon. After your first taste of the creamy, sticky Turkish ice-cream, you are likely to make it a habit to sample as many flavours as possible.