A lesser fruit among Turkish locals, “ayva” (quince), is best eaten autumn through winter. Reminiscent of a pear, the golden-yellowish fruit is not usually consumed raw because it is hard to bite and astringent. Although it may not taste very good when eaten raw, it is rich in dietary fiber and high in antioxidants. Regularly consuming quince also assists digestion and helps lower cholesterol.
A very tasty dessert is made of quince, as this hard-looking fruit turns out to be an attractive dish. “Ayva tatlısı” or quince dessert, is boiled or baked with cloves and then soaked in sugary syrup – a delicious treat that melts in your mouth and is generally served with “kaymak,” a creamy dairy product similar to clotted cream, on the top.
Where to find the best quince dessert in Istanbul
There are many places where you can indulge yourself with this quince dessert, namely Saray Muhallabicisi, which has multiple locations across Istanbul. The Beyoğlu location situated on İstiklal Avenue serves quince dessert with fresh kaymak.
In a historic mansion facing the Bosporus, Lacivert Restaurant is a pricey option but deserves to be included among the top places for baked quince dessert. Serving guests since 1999, the restaurant serves brunch on weekends accompanied with this traditional dessert.
The third choice is Sakarya Tatlıcısı, another historic Beyoğlu dessert shop, serving the city’s best quince dessert filled with savory apple jelly and cream.
You can cook your own quince dessert or ayva tatlisi, once you do it right it simply melts in the mouth. (Full recipe here)