There are about 100 small stalls in a covered bazaar selling everything from exotic spices, candies, dried fruits, fruit tea, among a hundred other Turkish delights. True to its name, my nose immediately detected the aroma of various spices the moment I entered the market. It was also impossible to walk past one of these stalls without sampling different types of local delicacies.
Row upon row of different types of fruit tea, exotic spices, pepper in the background with locals jostling for the lowest prices. It was nice to look at the display of pretty coloured spices even if you were not buying anything.
Dried figs and dates are displayed on the front row while the rest of the rows are all lokums (Turkish delights) in a riot of flavours and fillings. Some varieties are covered with coconuts, some nuts, mint, rose and most commonly, with powdered sugar. My favourite version are the nut flavours. With a wide range of flavours like hazelnut, pistachio, walnut and almond, my hands-down winner would be definitely pistachio. They are sinfully delicious with a tinge of nuts dancing around my taste buds.
Turkish Helva, or Halva, is a sweet confection that is similar to lokum, but made with sugar syrup and sesame oil. The helva is usually cut into wedges or thin slices according to customer requirements. It is believed that the locals served helva on special occasions such as Ramadan and other holy days but more commonly to mark births and deaths.
Further down, we came across some stalls selling a wide array of candle holders covered with decorative designs. They are colourful and eye-catching and I couldn't resist taking a picture.
Apart from that, a great variety of herbal tea are widely sold here. Apple, rose and linden flower being the most popular flavours. It has been a long tradition of drinking tea here I would say. The best type of tea for me was the apple tea. It was bitter yet refreshing and I liked it very much and drank a lot of it while trotting around Istanbul.
I came home with small bags of tea, a box of lokum and a luggage full of wonderful fragrance. :) This is the ultimate one-stop shopping destination for souvenirs as well as a wonderful place to meet interesting people. I'd recommend travel there to anyone. The Turkish culture is nowhere more alive and colourful than here.
First Commenter - Dora