Cezerye (pronounced jehz-air-yeh) is a naturally vegan and gluten-free dessert. It originated from Mersin, a port city in southern Turkey. The name cezerye is derived from جزر cezer, the Arabic word for carrot. This is a delicious confectionery made of carrots, nuts, and sugar, then coated with desiccated coconut flakes.
The carrots are cooked over low heat into a sticky paste then mixed with nuts. The traditional nut used is hazelnut. These days, walnuts and pistachios are also very popular. Use whatever nuts you have at hand! Cezerye are usually made into walnut-sized balls or flat rectangular disks.
Carrots are super high in vitamin A and also contain lots of other vitamins and minerals. Nuts are high in monounsaturated fats and really good for you too. So this dish is basically health food. Just ignore the sugar content, okay? Anyway, according to locals in Mersin, cezerye are so nutritious that they work as aphrodisiacs.
- If you like, you can grate the carrots and skip the boiling and blending. Just fry them slowly over low heat, adding a little bit of water as required.
- Reduce the amount of sugar if your desiccated coconut is sweetened. Brown sugar is generally less sweet than white sugar.
- I use white sugar instead of brown sugar so that the colour stays bright orange instead of dark.
This recipe makes about 12-15 balls. I ended up with 12, but I ate quite a lot of the paste through the cooking process. I just couldn’t help myself!
These will survive a week if you store them in an air-tight container.
- Meanwhile, lightly toast the nuts and chop them finely.
- OR spread the carrot paste in a square pan, pressing down tightly. Let mixture cool for an hour or two. Cut into rectangles or diamonds and coat in desiccated coconut.