It’s quince season in Istanbul, and when I walk by the crates of quince outside the markets on my way to work, I am always reminded of how much I love avya tatlisi (quince dessert). I was first introduced to it at my friend Berra’s house when her mom made a delicious home cooked meal followed by ayva tatlisi. At the time, my friend Alia had snagged the recipe and I wish I had, too.
Back at school, I admired the freely growing quince trees on our university’s campus and pondered over how someone could make something so dry and woody when raw, taste so scrumptiously good! Many a foreigner has mistaken the yellow fruit for an apple or pear only to find themselves terribly mistaken.
This winter I decided to finally try my hand at making ayva tatlisi. I perused the internet for recipes and decided to go with the recipe from Ozlem’s Turkish Table with some help from Olga’s Delicious Istanbul.
When all was said and done, the ayva turned out okay. Not as red as in the restaurants, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to achieve that on my first try. I also didn’t have high quality kaymak – our normal kaymakci had run out early since it was Sunday, and I had to resort to the supermarket’s kaymak (clotted cream).
The boyfriend liked the finished product but had a strange look on his face and appeared to be inspecting the ayva. Finally, he told me that ayva tatlisi is not supposed to have cinnamon in it. As soon as he said it, I knew he was right. Come to think of it, I had never had ayva tatlisi with cinnamon on it either.
Next time, I’ll stick to the cinnamon-free recipe and plan ahead so I have some famous Pando kaymak on hand 🙂