Maras Ice Cream (Maraş Dondurması): Turkey’s Unique and Tasty Ice Cream

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Forget everything you ever know about ice cream! And forget every ice cream you have ever tasted! Maras Ice Cream is literally different than any other ice cream in the world. We dare to say that you probably never taste such ice cream if you haven’t been to Turkey before.

Turkish Maras ice cream is sweet, creamy, stretchy and sticky at the same time.
Turkish Maras ice cream is sweet, creamy, stretchy and sticky at the same time.

You can and you should visit Turkey even just to eat this delicious ice cream! So, Maras Ice Cream is not only famous for its delicious taste. It is also famous for its funny presentation. This presentation could also be annoying and tricky, too.

What is The Origin of Maras Ice Cream?

A little different to western-style ice-creams, however; Turkish ice cream is sweet, creamy, stretchy and sticky at the same time. This stretchy stickiness is thanks to the inclusion of an aromatic resin called mastic. In addition to mastic, ice cream (in Turkish dondurma)’s recipe is based on milk and sugar and thickened with salep, a special type of powdered orchid bulb.

Dondurma’s recipe is based on milk and sugar in addition to mastic.
Dondurma’s recipe is based on milk and sugar in addition to mastic.

Whether it’s your first time in Turkey, or you’re a visitor who is about to return their country, dondurma should be high up on your list of things “what to eat in Turkey”!

Turkish Maras Ice Cream is Also Available in Other Flavours!

Turkish ice cream is available in a different type of flavours. Although there are so many different types of it, here are some of the favourites ones:

  • sade (literally ‘plain’);
  • vanilla flavoured;
  • various type of fruit flavours;
  • hazelnut;
  • and, of course, fıstıklı (pistachio).

Maras Ice cream has many different flavours in addition to the most famous one vanilla.
Maras Ice cream has many different flavours in addition to the most famous one vanilla.

Summertime in Turkey, on the other hand, is definitely a heaven for ice-cream lovers. In addition to serving maraş ice cream in cones or bowls only, you can have your Turkish ice-cream as a side to just about everything:

Maras Ice Cream goes very well over the baklava, or any other famous Turkish dessert.
Maras Ice Cream goes very well over the baklava or any other famous Turkish dessert.

Tricks of Maras Ice Cream Is As Famous As Its Amazing Taste!

Buying the ice-cream from the local sellers is as much a novelty as eating it. The Fes-capped men wearing traditional robes entertain the buyer (and the crowd) with every sale. You’ll spot them easily, setting up shop in their traditional ice-cream carts and ringing their bells with the long dondurma scoop.

A casual Turkish Ice Cream man on Istanbul's famous Istiklal Avenue.
A casual Turkish Ice Cream man on Istanbul’s famous Istiklal Avenue.

It is almost impossible that you can’t hear them. You’re sure to see the crowds gathering around. Watching and laughing while the cheeky ice-cream sellers trick young and old alike, bypassing the scoop of ice-cream from cone to cone while the buyer’s hand tries eagerly (and fails) to catch it.

Dondurma is an excellent way to cool down on a hot summer afternoon in Turkey. After your first taste of the creamy, sticky Turkish ice-cream, I dare say you’ll make a habit of sampling as many flavours as possible during your stay. Or, perhaps just your favourite flavour as many times as possible.

Saving your ice cream from ice cream man's magical hand is mostly impossible!
Saving your ice cream from ice cream man’s magical hand is mostly impossible!

How Old Maras Ice Cream Date Back?

Maras Ice Cream has been made in Maras since the 1600s. This rare dessert takes its name from the Kahranmanmaraş region in Southern Anatolia, where it originated.

Turkish Maras Ice Cream dates back in 16th century in Maras city of Turkey.
Turkish Maras Ice Cream dates back in 16th century in Maras city of Turkey.

Do not surprise when they serve your Maras ice cream with a knife and fork. Maraş dondurma contains more of the stick and thick salep than the standard variety. So, this gives it a particular resistance to melting. It’s, therefore, generally eaten using cutlery at cafes all around Turkey.

How About Maras Ice Cream in Winter?

If you’re planning to visit Turkey outside of the summer months, don’t worry! You can easily find dondurma during all year. But, if you find the thought a little too chilly for the weather, try a piping hot cup of salep, instead. Salep also has the same ingredients as the Turkish ice-cream, but served hot and sprinkled with crushed hazelnuts. Many Turkish ice-cream stores convert into salep cafes during winter, to accommodate those needing their fix of warm ‘ice-cream’.

Bonus: Turkish Maras Ice Cream Man Tricks

 

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