Many people who visit Turkey fall in love with Turkish sweets. When trying them for the first time, they look quite exotic and you might think that it wouldn’t be easy to prepare them at home but you’d be wrong. As you could see in our previous recipes, Turkish sweets are actually fairly easy to make at home. In this post, we’ll tell you the story of another delicious Turkish sweet- tulumba tatlisi. This post covers the traditional tulumba recipe, the origin of the sweet, the local variations, and much more!
But first things first…
What Is Tulumba?
Tulumba or Tulumba Tatlisi (pronunciation: too-loom-bah taht-lee-seeh) is a dessert that consists of a syrupy-crunchy and super-sweet deep-fried dough soaked in sherbet. The dough is commonly made of semolina and corn starch which accounts for the crispy texture. It’s one of the most popular street food snacks in Turkey but it’s also served as a dessert in many Turkish restaurants. A lot of people also make it at home and serve it for big celebrations like weddings and holidays and for big family gatherings.
Granted, the traditional tulumba recipe isn’t the easiest, especially if you’re a beginner but you will be able to make tulumba at home if you carefully follow our instructions.
The origins of tulumba are not quite clear but most likely this tasty sweet has its roots somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean and the Levant. The word ‘tulumba’ translates to ‘pump’ and this is a unique dessert of its own but it’s likely that it was likely inspired by Spanish churros.
Churros are a popular Spanish sweet whose origins are linked to the early Middle Ages. The Sephardic Jews had their own variation of churros, a sweet known by the name buñuelos that closely resembles tulumba.
The recipe was likely brought to the Ottoman lands by Sephardic Jews when they fled Spain after the inquisition of 1492. This story corresponds perfectly having in mind the similarity between the two sweets and the fact that Sephardic Jews inhabited the areas of Izmir, Canakkale, Thrace, and Thessaloniki, all of which are related to the first mentions of tulumba in modern history.
During the Ottoman era, tulumba became one of the most popular sweets in the whole empire, quickly spreading to North Africa, Arabia, Persia, the Balkans, and even parts of Central Europe and Central Asia. Due to increased trade and the sheer size of the Ottoman empire, tulumba quickly became a local favorite in most of the regions that were part of the empire.
Today, none of these countries are a part of Turkey but tulumba has not only remained popular but people started making their own local versions of this sweet that throughout the years became a part of their perspective cultures.
Tulumba is a popular dessert in many different countries outside of Turkey, including Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. You can also find it under different names in a few other countries, including bamiyeh (in Iran), turumba (in the Hejazi region of Arabia), balah ash-Sham (in Egypt, Syria, and a few other Arab countries), and datli (in Iraq, which likely originates from the Turkish word “tatli”).
The names might be different and every one of these countries might claim that their tulumba (or whatever it’s called in their country) is the best but the truth is there aren’t any major differences among the local variations of the tulumba recipe. This brings us to the next point…
When frying the dough, make sure the oil isn’t too hot. Not only will the tulumba not cook faster but it might even burn. The secret of the perfect tulumba tatlisi is in the right oil temperature, so I strongly suggest you use a food thermometer when you fry the dough.
As a rule of thumb, the oil should be cold before you add the batter into the frying skillet. Also, when you finish the first batch, turn the heat off and make sure the oil cools down entirely before adding the second batch into the skillet.
When adding the pieces of dough into the frying skillet, make sure the skilled is comfortably filled but never overwhelmed. If you add too many pieces of dough, they might stick to each other and in the end, become less crunchy which can spoil the entire experience of eating tulumba.
When cutting the pastries, dip the scissors’ knives in the oil before you start cutting. This way, they won’t stick to the butter when you cut the dough.
Before adding the eggs, make sure the dough cools down entirely because if it doesn’t the eggs might be almost cooked.
After the pastries are fried, keep them in cold syrup while they’re still hot, and make sure you give the pastries enough time to absorb the sherbet.
Traditionally, tulumba is served in batches in a bowl or plastic plate with toothpicks on top that are used for eating the pastries. However, this is primarily for large gatherings or celebrations. In some places (mainly in the Balkans), the tulumba is prepared so large that it can be eaten with a fork and somewhere, it can even be found in a packaged version in supermarkets. Tulumba can be served both, hot or cold. Street vendors in Turkey always serve it hot and fresh but personally, I like tulumba even more after it cools down.
Are you looking for some more Turkish dessert recipes? You may also want to check out some of our other posts below:
A Few Things You May Need For This Recipe
- 4 Cups sugar
- 4 Cups Water
- 1 and 1/2 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 2 and ½ Tablespoons Semolina
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 and ½ Cups Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Corn Starch
- 2 Cups Water
- 3 Eggs
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- Oil (enough for deep frying)
- 1/2 Cup Pistachios
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
1. Put water and sugar in a boiling pot and turn on the heat.
2. Once the water starts boiling, add in the lemon juice and let it simmer for around 10 minutes. The syrup should cool down completely before using.
3. In the meantime, you can start working on the dough; mix the water and butter in another pot and heat it over medium heat.
4. Stir occasionally until the butter melts.
5. After the mixture starts boiling, start adding the flour, little by little.
6. Stir with a wooden spoon for around 10 minutes until a non-sticky dough starts forming.
7. Remove the pot from the heat, place the dough into a mixing bowl and wait for it to cool down
8. Next, break the eggs into the mixture one by one and mix with a mixer (or blender).
9. Then, add the semolina and cornstarch and keep mixing until you reach batter-like consistency.
10. Add some oil to your frying skillet and start adding the batter into the star-nozzle piping bag.
11. Start squeezing the dough pieces one by one- the oil should still be cold.
12. After you have your entire first batch in the frying skillet with enough space between the pieces, turn on the stove on medium heat.
13. Fry the dough pieces until they get golden color and roughly double in size.
14. Use a slotted spoon to remove the dough pieces and add them to the cold syrup.
15. After 2-3 minutes in the syrup bowl, place the pastries on a large plate or a bowl.
16. Crumble some ground pistachios on the top before serving.
17. Let the oil cool down and repeat the process (steps 11-16).
18. Serve it with some Turkish tea and enjoy!
Serving Size:1 piece (45 grams)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 45mgCarbohydrates: 22gNet Carbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 10gProtein: 1.5g
Did you ever try tulumba tatlisi? If so, which one is your favorite? How did you like our tulumba recipe? If you tried to make it at home, don’t forget to leave us a rating and if you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below!
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