Buying ice-cream on the streets of Istanbul is a unique and funny experience. They call it “dondurma” and it is really tasty. Certainly, the most memorable experience is the way they sell it. The vendors that sell dondurma are excellent, good-willing pranksters. If you know the tradition, you will be laughing all the way through the process.

All photos by Maja Argakijeva (Istanbul 2020)

Dondurma is a Turkish mastic ice cream which typically includes whipped cream, salep (a flour made from the root of the early purple orchid,), mastic (plant resin), and sugar. Its origins are traced to the region of Maraş and hence its alternative name – Maraş ice cream. The dondurma has a hard texture and resistance to melting, because of the salep and mastic.

The experience of buying dondurma is unique because of the vendors who often tease the customer by serving the ice cream cone on a stick, and then taking away the dondurma with the stick by rotating it around, before finally giving it to the customer. Vendors often wear the traditional clothing of the Ottoman period.

It was the third time in Istanbul for us but the first time for the kids and they truly enjoyed it. If you visit Turkey, don’t miss this unique experience.