Ice Cream, dondurma in Turkish, literally translates to “freezing”.
Turkish ice cream is one-of-a-kind because it’s made of milk, sugar, salep and mastic which makes the texture thick, stretchy, chewy and resistant to melting.
What is mastic?
Exported from Greece, mainly from Chios, mastic is a resin obtained from the mastic tree. A natural gum – originally used by the Ancient Greeks as a chewing gum, in the absence of dental hygiene. When chewed, it softens and becomes a bright white and opaque gum. A distinct flavor, to say the least, but refreshing and also has a cedar or pine-like flavor.
The word mastic is derived from the Greek verb, mastichan, “to gnash the teeth”, a synonym to the English word, masticate, “to grind or crush (food) with the teeth”.
Throughout the world there are many uses and a wide range of products. In Turkey, mastic is used in items like raki, turkish delight and ice cream.
While walking through Taksim, my friend discovered I never experienced being served ice cream ‘the Turkish way’ and insisted I had to. He kindly told the server that I was a foreigner…and the show began! I was faked out several times, laughed a lot and best of all – the ice cream was amazing! I got all the flavors: vanilla, strawberry, chocolate and a little lemon on top.
ICE CREAM IN MODA
If you’re in Moda, you’re in for a different ice cream experience. At Meshur Dondurmaci Ali Usta there’s usually always a line but it’s well worth the wait. At least 20 flavors to choose from, and no “show” involved.
I got vanilla, strawberry and turkish coffee, with complementary chocolate and nuts on top. However, I was a bit surprised to find actual coffee in the ice cream, unlike in America when you order coffee ice cream and it’s just flavored.