Whenever I hear the word Ramadan, I immediately think of Güllaç. It is a traditional Turkish dessert that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. I’ve read somewhere that it was also a part of the circumcision ceremony menu for Sultan Süleyman, The Magnificient’s sons’.
This milk based dessert is prepared with Güllaç leaves, which are basically starch wafers that are made of corn starch, flour and water.
It is especially popular during the month of Ramadan, because it is a very light dessert (well, when compared to other traditional Turkish desserts) and helps the digestive system during iftar (the evening meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan).
Traditionally, Güllaç is stuffed with chopped walnuts and flavored with rose water. After a couple of hours walnuts transform the soft white color of the leaves into an unappetizing beige, so I almost always prepare it with chopped hazelnuts. This time around, I flavored the milk mixture with cardamom instead of the traditional rose water. It was spot on.
This is how a Güllaç leaf looks like when you hold it against the window. It is almost transparent with small holes here and there. You might find Güllaç leaves at your Middle Eastern grocery store, but just in case you can’t here is where you can buy it online.
Güllaç with Cardamom and Hazelnuts
- 5-6 pieces Güllaç leaves
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup pistachios, finely chopped
- 5-10 sour cherries
- Bring milk, cardamom and sugar to a boil, whisk until the sugar dissolves and take off heat. Wait until the mixture comes to room temperature.
- Trim a Güllaç sheet to fit your serving dish (10 inches in diameter, one and half inch high) and lay it on the bottom, shiny side up. Pour a cup of the milk mixture on top and wait until most of the liquid is absorbed. Continue with the scraps from the first sheet and repeat the process with the second sheet. Reserve 1/4 cup of the chopped hazelnuts and lay the rest on top of the second sheet. Pour another cup of the milk mixture on top and continue until all the sheets are used. If you still have some of the milk mixture left, pour it over the top; don’t worry the sheets will absorb almost all of it.
- Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup of chopped hazelnuts, pistachios and sour cherries. Serve cold.
I have never heard of Gullac before Cenk, although the recipe reminds me of Mhalbi, the North African rice dessert which is also very popular during Ramadan. We use cinnamon instead of cardamom and orange blossom water instead of rose water. May be there is a relation between the two desserts, since the Ottoman Empire reigned over North Africa once.There is still in Algeria, especially in the city where I was born some ottoman sites and arts.
I bet you are enjoying the last week of Ramadan with this treat.
Thanks for teaching me about Gullac! The leaves are very beautiful and that dessert looks fantastic! I would love to try it sometime. Where do you find gullac leaves?
Thank you Rose. Actually, I have not heard about a dessert called Mhalbi, but it sounds very familiar..
Hillary – Thanks for your comment. There is a link to an online store selling Güllaç leaves inside the post. You can also try a Middle Eastern grocery store.
Cenk – As much as I love traditional foods that are prepared well, I love it when people can elevate them. Your substitution of walnuts for hazelnuts and cardamom-scented milk for rose water sound divine. I have a great interest in recipes that use cardamom, so I am happy to learn of this one.
It’s my favourite dessert, I just love it! Holding it against the sky is something I’ve never tried, though 🙂 But it looks beautiful! I am planning to make individual desserts by soaking them into milk and when they are soft enough, laying them in a small bowl and stuff them with pistachios and clotted cream (kaymak). But first I need to find some Gullac leaves and also some energy!! It seems like I don’t want to spend time in kitchen these days:) Maybe you want to try my idea of individual desserts, because it will most probably stay as an other wasted idea:(
I’s great to know there is somebody trying to do his best to spread out this beloved Turkish food culture all over the world. May not be your goal to do this way, but when I read the receipe of Gullac, these are thoughts came to my mind directly. I shall admit that I read all of your recipies in one day, and printed out some for me, to try. I am planning to start from your tartalettes.
I really enjoyed to read your blog. You put a smile on my face with your yummy desserts:)
hey this is a new ingredient to me. Have to try it out…
BTW Eid Mubarak ! Turkish food really interests me a lot…thats also the reason u got me hooked onto your blog :P, though i wish someday you’ll just invite me over and share your wonderful dishes with with me…everything looks so pretty on you blog .
This looks so interesting — and delicious! I just came across your site and think it looks great. I just started a food blog myself, so I know what kind of effort you must put into this :).
Shaun – Glad you liked the recipe.
Zeynep – I am feeling the same nowadays.. It must be the weather..
Duygu – Thank you! Glad to be of service 🙂
Kate, Dana – Thanks!
i love this turkish desasert i m planing for make this gullac .i m very enjoyed to read your blog thank you very much.
dear cenk, im here again to ask you about the amazing Istanbul. im going again to Istanbul next month for the third time, and i went through your posts about turkish cuisine, i’ll definitely go to Ciya htis time, last time i missed it, but of course we ate yummi lahmacun in the asian part.im asking you if there any particular shop who sell special delectable sweets.im staying in sultanahmat and going to taksim and the islands too.thank youuuu
Fragolina – Try kazandibi (chicken & milk pudding) at Saray Muhallebicisi. There’s one on Istiklal street, which is in the heart of Taksim. You’ll find many more authentic Turkish desserts there. My favorite lokums are sold at Cemilzade (try double roasted pistachio). Also, if you happen to visit the Bebek area, this is the place to go. More recommendations here. Hope you have a great time.
Hi, Cenk. Thank you so much for your comment on my June 23 blog, and for identifying the mystery dessert. AND for providing the link to your recipe. I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot! I have been thinking about you a lot in recent weeks because Istanbul is in the news every day. Nick told me that you’d assured him you were safe and out of harm’s way. All best wishes from your friend in Boston, Sandy
I just got back from istanbul and had my Aunt’s tasty gullac. I was looking up recipes online to see what I might be able to do and yours came up in my google search – small world!! I hope you’re doing well. Hopefully next time I’m in Istanbul, we can meet up.
melissa – Hey! I was thinking about you the other day. I’m deep into my book project and wrote about our breakfasts at Caffe Sapore for one of the headnotes! Let me know the next time you visit.