Guide to SKOPJE

Try it and regret it once; Don’t try it and regret it a thousand times

Try the magical Turkish cuisine that always has a little, fascinating surprise in store. This time it is a strange little pleasure with an even stranger name: pismaniye(regret). These lovely snow white, delicious cotton candywill simply leave you speechless!Cover Foto1_Pismaniye_balkon3


Pismaniye is also known as tel helva (wire halva), çekme helva (stretched halva) or keten helva (flax halva). This lovely sweet cotton made of fried flour and lots of sugar is an attraction that captivates millions of tourists who come to visit Turkey in the summer. Pismaniye originates from Iran and it is called “pismek” there which means “regret” because it was hard to get the perfect mixture and those who dared prepare this dessert often had feelings of regret.COVER1_Pismaniye_balkon3

My fat lady

In Turkey, however, the legend is a bit different. The city of Izmit is well known for its pismaniye. The most popular legend says that a confectioner lived in the city and he wasfamous for hiscakes. People queued for miles outside his cake shop just to be able to try some of his famous specialties. Traders turned off the Silk Road and put themselves at risk only to get to his delicious sweets. The confecttioner, on the other hand, had a different problem. He was unhappily in love with a fat girl. No matter what he did to win her over, his love remained unrequited. In despair, he decided to create a brand new cake and devote it to his beloved, hoping to receive her love in return. He worked hard with his apprentices and createdsnow white cotton balls of pulled halva. This is how pismaniye was created.

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In honor of his beloved he called it Sismaniye which means “my fat lady” in Turkish. He carefully wrote engraved the name on it, sent a few boxes to his beloved girl… and managed to attract her attention! Before long they got married and lived happily for a …while. The jealousy and intrigue of his beloved wife turned his life into hell. He was devastated and heartbroken but he had to leave her. Suffering because of his lost love the  confectioner changed the name of the cake from Sismaniye into Pismaniye which means “regret” in Turkish.


Mmm… irresistible taste

A few days ago the citizens of Skopje had the opportunity to try this hundreds of years old magic, but not the mass produced type we find in supermarkets, but the actual homemade pismaniye. The Municipality of Izmit organized the 6th Pismaniye Festival in the Municipality of Cair.

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In the Turkish Bazaar the masters of this craft amazed the visitors with their skill and crafsmanship. In the middle of the bazaar they presented top quality products to a number of foodies and passersby. The process of mannual pulling of halva lasted about two hours.

Foto 12_3_Pismaniye_balkon3The masters were really pleased with their final product. “ It turned out really well, we made it!”, said one of them with a wide smile on his face. They were a bit worried about the blazingSkopje sun, because it may heat the mixture over the desired temperature, so they continued their work in the shade of the bazaar. Some of the people gathered there had the opportunity to try this specialtyfor the first time in their lives and it was being prepared right in front of them.The Ambassador of  Turkey to Macedonia Gurol Sokmensuer, the Mayors of Izmit and Cair, Nevzat Dogan and Izet Mexhiti took a symbolic part in the preparation of the dessert.


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When it was ready, pismaniye was served to all the people present and their verdict was unanimous: “Mmm… irresistible flavor. I have tried readymade pismaniye, but this is unique.” In Turkey this dessert is also known under the slogan “Try it once and regret it once; Don’t try it and regret it a thousand times!” You regret it once because eating pismaniye is a bit complicated, but if you don’t try it you will regret it a thousand times because the taste is extraordinary. It is a must-try.


– First fry the flour in oil.

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– In the meantime you can prepare the sherbet. The sherbet has to be boiled at 180˚C.Foto 11_2_Pismaniye_balkon3

– After it boils leave the sherbet to cool to 120˚C on a marble surface.Foto 12_2_Pismaniye_balkon3

– When it cools the sherbet turns into a jelly which you can process manually.Foto 13_2_Pismaniye_balkon3

– Put it in a large baking pan and mix it with the fried flour.Foto 13_6_Pismaniye_balkon3

– This is the most difficult part when you need to stretch and pull the dough.Foto 13_5_Pismaniye_balkon3

– Pismaniye is ready to serve.

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Text and photo: Husamettin Gina