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