Sesame Rings

Sesame Rings |

When I saw the well written post on mahaleb (mahlep in Turkish) at Oysterculture, I decided to make something using this special spice and share it here. I’ll not explain what kind of a spice it is, Oyster has already done it so well, so if you want to learn it more, please visit her blog.


I call these sesame rings as they are coated with sesame, but in Turkey, their original name is ‘kandil simidi’, which may be translated into English as ‘lailat simit’. Lailat is the name of holy nights in Islam. There are mainly 6 special nights in this religion and they are related to muslims’ prophet Muhammed and the holy Qur’an. Muslims pray and plead for mercy at these nights. Women make some pastries and share it with all their neighbors. This is not a must, but it’s like a tradition some people carry on. On these days, pastry shops make especially these rings and pay special attention to the appearance of their stands. Vendors at different corners of city also sell kandil simidi in small paper bags just on these days. I don’t know if any other cultures have such foods that are made on some certain days of year, but in Turkish culture there are several foods that you can find only on some certain days. Lailat simit is one of these foods and it you can find it at pastry shops six times in a year. There are some pastries similar to this mini simits at these shops, but they don’t have the same taste. If you want to eat it more than six times in a year, you must make it at home. And that’s what I do! The word mahaleb always reminds me of kandil simidi, that’s why I decided to make and share it here.

As you see in the picture, it’s so similar to simit, it’s like the smaller version of it. They’re alike in terms of their shapes, but their tastes are quite different. Simit tastes more like bread, it doesn’t spread easily when you chew, but it’s the main feature of kandil simidi to spread easily in your mouth. And their ingredients are different, too. We can say that they are similar in their shapes and names, but they are different in their tastes indeed. We generally define ring-shaped things as simit because of their shapes.

If you like crackers and if you love to snack, these are perfect! When I make these, we keep them in a large jar for a week. Instead of packaged crackers or pretzels, we have these sesame rings as a snack along with black tea when we have too many hours for dinner to stop our hunger for a while.

Sesame Rings |

Kandil Simidi

–    250g margarine or butter
–    6 tbsp sunflower oil
–    ½ cup water
–    1 tbsp vinegar
–    1 tbsp sugar
–    1 dessert spoon salt
–    1 egg yolk
–    1 tbsp baking powder
–    4 ½ cup flour
–    1 dessert spoon mahaleb
–    1 egg white
–    Sesame

Put all ingredients except egg white, sesame and baking powder in a tray and mix them. When you knead it well, add baking powder and keep kneading. You will have a soft dough.

Take pieces as big as a walnut and first shape it like a stick, then combine its two ends to give it a simit (ring shape) shape.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Put egg yolk in a small bowl and sesame on a seperate plate. Dip mini simits first into egg yolk and then coat it with sesame.

Originally, it is made with sesame, but I also make it with crumbled hazelnuts to have a variety. If you like, you can try it, too.

Lay a grease proof paper in an oven tray. Put these sesame rings on it. And cook them in oven until they get golden (for about 45 minutes).

Sesame Rings |

Perfect for tea time when you make these rings with sesame.

Sesame Rings |


  1. OysterCulture says

    Zerrin, these tasty treats look incredible! Mr Oyster is in for a huge surprise when I place a plateful of this snack in front of him. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible sounding recipe it looks like one I’ll treasure.

    As to serving foods only on certain days of the year, no one recipe comes to mind. We serve foods for certain seasons or holidays but are not as specific as I can recall to get it to the nearest day. If I think of one I’ll let you know.

  2. says

    These look so delicious. I love sesame. I’m definitely going to try this. My husband would love it too.

  3. Leesie says

    I like that tray you mixed the ingredients in – looks very handy and easy. It looks quite large too which is nice!

    I like the idea of making my own snack for a healthier alternative to the store bought junk food (which I don’t buy anyway)! These look absolutely delicious and now I’ll have to go over to Oyster’s blog to read all about this maheleb 😉

    Thanks Zerrin.

  4. says

    Mmm…sesame and hazelnut. These look like bagels. I’ll have to keep an eye out for that spice.This looks great. Can I have a mix of both on one ring? Or would that throw off the flavors?

  5. says

    These look really good and pretty simple to make. I do have one question, when they are finished are they hard like biscotti or a cracker? Or are they soft like a bagel?

  6. says

    Oyster- Thank you for reminding me of mahaleb. Happy to hear that you love it. I’m sure Mr Oyster gets happy to see some of these rings. Who doesn’t?

    Diana- Sesame is one of my favorite ingredient, too. I always try to find new recipes with it. My husband loves these rings, and I’m sure yours will love it too.

    Leesie- That tray is a gift from my mother-in-law, and yes, it is so handy. I love to knead things in it. I’m sure it’s much healthier than the junk foods at stores, so I prefer making these.

    Jenn- Mixing both sesame and hazelnut may be a great idea. Even nigella sativa may also be included in that mixture.

    Jessie- Never tried these with soup, I generally have them with black tea and cheese. But eating these with soup sounds intriguing.

    Rich Dansereau- It was absolutely easy to make and the best is you make lots of rings at one time and you can keep them for a week. As for your question, they are not soft like bagel, but they are not as hard as crackers, either. I can say that these are like savory cookies.

  7. says

    I love the nutty flavor of the sesame or hazelnut…these sound delicious and perfect with tea!

  8. says

    These savory cookies, as you described them to Rich, look wonderful, both with sesame and hazelnuts (although the latter is one of my favorite nuts!) The first treat that I thought of that is made primarily during holidays here would be fruit cakes for Christmas! Many people make fun of them but I’ve had some that are quite delicious and although they may be found throughout the year, they are closely connected to this holiday. Another is King Cake, a ring shaped pastry made for Mardi Gras at the beginning of the Lenten season.

    These look so delicious, it would be hard not to have them all year round!

  9. says

    These sound like great snacks! We do have some traditional foods that are made for religious holidays. King cake is a popular treat made for mardi gras which is the day before Lent begins. The cake is a like a large cinnamon roll. I look forward to it every spring.

  10. says

    I love the look and sound of those snacks and it’s a great idea to have an alternative to shop-bought crackers around when it comes to snacking. As for having certain foods on specific days, right now, I can’t think of anything – we’re so used to having everything on demand, all year round nowadays! Even hot cross buns, which you expect to see just around Easter-time, I have seen for sale well past that date. Maybe no-one told them about the tradition :)

  11. ania says

    I`m really happy that I came across your blog. It`s great! You wonder if in other cultures there are any special kinds of food prepared only for special ocassions. I can say, we have few such a meals in Poland. There are traditionall st.Martin`s bagels;-) (very sweet with white poppy seeds, walnuts and honey: made only once a year, only in one Polish city.
    There are also special meals we prepare for Christmas Eve Supper (traditionally all of them are vegetarian) and some cakes which are baked only for Easter.


  1. […] Turkish culture, there are some certain dishes which are made on special days or occasions. Sesame Rings, which I wrote on before,  are one of them. And today I want to share another special dish made […]

  2. […] is slightly similar to cinnamon as well. A typical savory pastry in which we use mahlab is these Sesame Rings, which are mostly baked to celebrate Kandil, which is the name used for five Islamic holy nights. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *