A condiment made of 60 percent milk fat can hardly be bad. But once it arrives to the table in a sleek roll drizzled with local honey, it’s legendary. Perhaps that’s why some form of the creamy treat known in Turkey as kaymak has spread throughout the Balkans, the Middle East, and even India.
The traditional method of making the dish is to slowly simmer milk—preferably from the water buffalo—over low heat for about two hours. The cream, which has risen to the top during gentle heating, gets skimmed off and placed in a shallow pan where it cools overnight. In Turkey, the thickened cream is often rolled into a spiraled loaf, similar to a jelly roll, where a dribble of honey makes for a sweet and tangy treat.
Kaymak is an ephemeral delight, with a shelf life of about a day. (If you think refrigerating the cream will save it, hold off: Fans claim that will disturb its delicate texture.) You can enjoy the freshest kaymak from local markets in several regions throughout Turkey and the Balkans, where it is often sliced and served straight from the tin. The truly lucky might find their kaymak perched atop künefe, a cheese-filled pastry. Scatter on some pistachios and find yourself in a creamy, crunchy wonderland.
Need to Know
In the Balkans, you'll hear the dairy dish referred to as kajmak. In the Middle East, it goes by eishta.
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Where to Try It
Karaköy ÖzsütYemişçi Hasan Sokak 9/11, Karaköy, Turkey
The water buffalo pictures lining the walls reveal where this restaurant's kaymak comes from.