Friday, June 11, 2010

Nory Rahat Locum

Lokum MasticaSometimes I look at photos of the markets in Turkey, with stalls piled high with different kinds of lokum (also called Turkish Delight, locum or lokumi - I’ll just call it locum for this review) and wish that places like that existed a bit closer to me.

But it turns out that they do. No, they don’t sell in big open air markets. Los Angeles has its own classic locumist (is that a word?) called Nory Rahat Locum. In 1964 a Romanian-Armenian confectioner named Norayr settled in Hollywood and started making classic locum using his family’s 100 year-old recipes. Norayr retired and sold the company to the Jibilians in 1979, who in turn sold it to Sahakians last year when they retired.

They’re dedicated to making a local product, right down to the citrus flavors and nuts in it, the boxes for packaging. The only non-American content is the mastic used for the Mastica flavor, imported from one of the few sources, the island of Chios in Greece.


Locum is made from simple ingredients: sugar, water, starch and perhaps corn syrup and citric acid, some nuts, flavorings and colors. It’s rather like a dairy-free pudding. The mixture is boiled until the starch combines completely with the liquid and sugars to form a silky smooth paste. Then it’s poured and cooled in a shallow baking pan until it’s ready to be cut into squares. The traditional method of storing and serving involves tossing the cubes with a mixture of confectioners sugar and corn starch to keep them from sticking.

Nory Rahat Locum makes a huge variety of Locum products. They have the traditional rosewater, mint and orange as well as the nut versions including pistachio, almond, hazelnut and walnut. But what caught my eye were flavors like Bergamot, Licorice and Mastica.

Lokum MasticaI don’t know much about Mastic (or in this case Mastica).  I looked it up of course, since the whole point of Candy Blog is to explore new flavors. I know that it’s a natural plant resin that can be chewed like chicle. You might even recognize it as the root of the word masticate (to chew). The mastic tree (Pistacia lentiscus) is part of the Cashew family and is closely related to the Pistachio. I’ve had mastic gum before, I picked up some samples at some trade show along the way and it like the name implies, it’s like chewing on tree sap when you get it in its pure form. (Still stimulating and fresh-tasting, if a little hard to chew after a while.)

The idea of using mastic as a flavoring was new to me, even though the internet tells me it’s a classic confectionery flavor in the Middle East and Mediterranean.

The pieces appear uncolored, just a pale yellow. The texture is smooth and moist, with an easy bite.

The flavor is lightly woodsy, a little earthy. It reminds me of ginseng gum. A cross between tongue depressors, rosemary with a slight whiff of golden beets. At times it reminded me of office supplies, like Scotch tape, envelope adhesive and laser printers. There’s a fresh, slightly jasmine aftertaste. I know this all sounds unappealing but it’s soothing and comforting, like the smell of rain.

8 out of 10

DSC_4612rbWhile I was most excited by the exotics, there were more mainstream flavors.

Mint was bright green on the inside, like a traffic signal. This was some powerful peppermint. Probably too minty for me. It was smooth and had an excellent texture, the mint was so strong that it had a bit of a warm sensation for me but it did cut the sweetness. 7 out of 10

Rose - flowery and a bit like honey but without the over soapy notes that florals sometimes have. 7 out of 10

Orange - instead of orange blossom or orange zest this was like a whole orange flavor. A little like sweet, low acid orange juice without the pulp. It wasn’t my favorite in the bunch, I would have liked more zest in it. However, I can see this being a very accessible and easy flavor for those new to lokum to enjoy. It’s very similar to Orange Slice jellies, though so much smoother since there’s no granulated sugar crust. 7 out of 10

DSC_4613rbPomegranate was deeply colored and had a scent that was a combination of rose and raspberry. The floral and berry notes were good, but I think this one suffered with an overuse of food coloring, which gave it a weird metallic/bitter tone that was inconsistent with a desirable flavor. 7 out of 10

Licorice (not shown) was a polite dose of anise, like those Anise Bears except so much smoother and a little warmer, like there was a touch of ginger in it. Again, the food coloring gave it a weird taste as well. At this point I should note that part way through my tastings of the locum I emailed with Armand Sahakian and noted the difficulties I had with the heavily colored flavors. He confirmed that he was planning to take the products all natural by the end of the year, so this will not be an issue in the future. 7 out of 10

Bergamot was uncolored, which really helped the flavors to take the center stage. It wasn’t as strongly flavored as I thought I could tolerate, just a light kiss of what most people know as the essential flavor of Earl Grey tea. Not too sweet, soft and smooth. 8 out of 10

Lokum Pistachio (Bergamot)

The same locum also came in a nutty version: Bergamot and Pistachio. The floral and grassy notes of the soft and chewy pistachios go so well with the light herbal and citrus flavors of bergamot. If it weren’t so messy I’d probably eat the whole box.

The other nutty varieties were supplied to me in the more mainstream combinations. Hazelnut was in a vanilla locum as was Almond. They were mild and pleasant, sweet but then again the lack of the addition flavor really let the nutty notes come through. The hazelnut was really nice because the roasted flavors go so well with vanilla. It got me to wondering how this variety would do with a few cacao nibs tossed in.

8 out of 10

Part of me wanted more nuts, but that’s where it’s lucky that Nory has another line called Supreme Squares.

Nory Rahat Locum - Supreme Squares - Pistachio

Supreme Squares (they also come in bars) are a thicker version of locum with far more nuts. I tried two versions, one is the Pistachio and Rose shown above, which had a light floral note with the sweet and grassy crunch of the pistachios. The chew of the locum was fun, not quite a caramel, but still a bit on the stringy side but ultimately smooth. I ate them all. Just to let you know, I had eight pounds of locum (yes, 8 full boxes) that I’d been eating over the past two months, this was the only box that I finished all by myself.

Nory Rahat Locum - Supreme Squares - AlmondThe second version I tried was the Almond which has a vanilla base, like the locum I tried. It reminded me a bit of a translucent jelly version of Nougat de Montelimar. In fact it would benefit from a little dash of honey. The vanilla gave it a sweeter taste but the super crunchy nuts balanced it out. I definitely preferred it to the standard, less-nutty variety.

The ratings for the nutty Locum and the Supreme Squares are a solid 8 out of 10.

Armand Sahakian has done a great job of updating their product website and doing more outreach in social media (facebook and twitter), it’s fun to see a candy with such a long heritage stay current. He tells me that the packages will also be updated as well. The boxes that I got all looked the same with simple stickers denoting what flavor was inside, the new ones will be specific to the contents.

The only issue I actually have with lokum in general is how messy it is. It’s a sitting down candy, not an on-the-run candy. It’s messy, though thankfully already portioned. The Brits have a great idea there with dipping it in chocolate, but that just adds another flavor to it. Also, in the case of Nory, the package sizes are just too big for me. I don’t want a pound. I have a short attention span for candy (even in my pre-blogging days). I might want 8 ounces, but not a whole pound. I might like even smaller - like 4 ounces or “bar format” that would just be a little tray with 2 ounces. The Supreme Squares are apparently available that way.

Nory has mostly California distribution (via Indo-European Foods and Kradjian Importing Co), though I believe it’s also available online. Markets that carry Turkish, Armenian, Greek and Persian foods are most likely to have them.

Related Candies

  1. Fard’s Persian Pistachio Nougat
  2. Loukoumi Artisan Confections
  3. Nougat de Montelimar
  4. Halvah and Turkish Delight
  5. Candy Essay: Turkish Delight
  6. Turkish Delight

Name: Nory Rahat Locum
Brand: Nory Candy and Pastry
Place Purchased: samples from Nory
Price: retail $6.50
Size: 16 ounces
Calories per ounce: 102
Categories: Candy, Jelly Candy, Nuts, 7-Worth It, 8-Tasty, United States

POSTED BY Cybele AT 1:30 pm Tracker Pixel for Entry     CandyJelly CandyNuts7-Worth It8-TastyUnited States

  1. Rahat means Turkish Delight in Romanian.

    Comment by Ana on 6/11/10 at 3:28 pm #
  2. I LOVE your description of the mastic flavor!  The tongue depressors in particular are just super evocative.  And I feel like I have some sense that mastic may actually be (or have been) used in office adhesives?  Anyway, I hope I can try this out sometime, it sounds really unusual.

    Also, I’m glad to see you reviewing a turkish delight-style candy with nuts.  I love Applets and Cotlets, but those are walnuts.  I think the way the firm nut gives the candy a little satisfying bite, and then the chewed up nut mixes with the jelly texture in your mouth, is really just outstanding.  I think cashews or pecans could be good.

    Comment by JJR on 6/12/10 at 12:59 am #
  3. Ohmygosh! How do you do it Cybele? 8 boxes of these candies? Did you get sick? WOW! My only other question .... during that time, did you eat food? Hope so. Today, I polished off (after the bagel & coffee breakfast) 6 or 7 Werther’s Original caramel (dark cream) chocolates. They are new. Bought them yesterday at Jewel. Smallish .... melt quick, and are wrapped in gold foil and twisted. It was too much chocolate/sugar. I became sad/depressed. Had to like walk around the house ..... here there everywhere to burn energy. Yesterday, I consumed 6 Goetze’s caramel creams. Ohhgosh. Can’t do so much sugar at once. Yes, for sure caramels are my fav. REAL ones w/butter and cream though. Got to take a candy restup. Love the stuff but it doesn’t like me.

    Very fun and educational to read your “candyspeak!!” Few (if any) could ever do what you do so excellently Cybele. Keep on writing, and tasting!

    Comment by Marcee/Chicago on 6/14/10 at 3:57 pm #
  4. I have grown up eating middle eastern/eastern european food, mastica is a alcoholic beverage (however I have no idea what it is made from!)

    Comment by Lile Koloska on 8/18/10 at 3:30 am #
  5. I just ordered a box because I LOVE turkish delight, I was disappointed that the company has discontinued the mint flavor, due to higher customer demand for citrus flavors, the green is now lemon flavored. I was really looking forward to the mint. Overall though, the product is very fresh, and arrived in just 2 days! Which is phenomenal considering the product come from California and I live in North Carolina! But yeah, super great, totally yummy stuff. smile

    Comment by Briana on 12/29/10 at 1:22 pm #
  6. i have been trying to find this for a long time

    Comment by ron brwon on 3/31/13 at 2:19 pm #
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