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For the Macedonian music group, see Baklava (band).
Baklava - Turkish special, 80-ply.JPEG
Baklava is prepared on large trays and cut into a variety of shapes
Type Dessert
Place of origin
Ottoman Empire
Region or state
Countries of the former Ottoman Empire, Western and Central Asia
Serving temperature
Cold, room temperature or re-warmed
Main ingredients
Phyllo dough, nuts, sweetening
Variations Multiple
Cookbook:Baklava  Baklava

Baklava (/ˈbɑːkləvɑː/, /bɑːkləˈvɑː/,[1] or /bəˈklɑːvə/;[2] Ottoman Turkish: باقلوا [bɑːklɑvɑː]; Arabic: بقلاوة) is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, but is also found in Central and Southwest Asia.


The word baklava is first attested in English in 1650,[3] a borrowing from Ottoman Turkish باقلوا /bɑːklɑvɑː/.[4][5] The name baklava is used in many languages with minor phonetic and spelling variations.

The origin of the name is unknown. Buell argues that the word "baklava" may come from the Mongolian root baγla- 'to tie, wrap up, pile up' composed with the Turkic verbal ending -v;[6] baγla- itself in Mongolian is a Turkic loanword.[7]

Though the suffix -vā might suggest a Persian origin,[8][9] the baqla- part does not appear to be Persian.[10] Another form of the word is also recorded in Persian, باقلبا (bāqlabā).[11]

The Arabic name is doubtless a borrowing from Turkish,[12] though a folk etymology, unsupported by Wehr's dictionary, connects it to Arabic بقلة /baqlah/ 'bean'.[dubious ]


Although the history of baklava is not well documented, there is evidence that its current form was developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul based on a Central Asian Turkic tradition of layered breads.[13]

The tradition of layered breads by Turkic peoples in Central Asia suggests the "missing link" between the Central Asian folded or layered breads (which did not include nuts) and modern phyllo-based pastries like baklava would be the Azerbaijani dish Bakı pakhlavası, which involves layers of dough and nuts. The Uzbek pakhlava, puskal or yupka, and Tatar yoka, sweet and salty savories (boreks) prepared with 10–12 layers of dough, are other early examples of layered dough style in Turkic regions.[12] The thin phyllo dough used today was probably developed in the kitchens of the Topkapı Palace.

The Sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries every 15th of the month of Ramadan in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.[14]

One of the oldest known recipes for a sort of proto-baklava is Güllaç, also found in Turkish cuisine. It consists of layers of phyllo dough that are put one by one in warmed up milk with sugar. It is served with walnut and fresh pomegranate and generally eaten during Ramadan. The first known documentation of güllaç is in a food and health manual written in 1330 that documented primarily Mongol-Turkic foods called Yinshan Zhenyao (飮膳正要), which was written by Husihui (忽思慧) who was a Turkic physician to the Mongol court of the Yuan dynasty[6]

Other theories about baklava's origins include:

  • That it dates back to ancient Mesopotamia, and was mentioned in a Mesopotamian cookbook on walnut dishes. But there is no evidence for this.
  • That al-Baghdadi describes something similar to it in his 13th-century cookbook. Claudia Roden[15] finds no evidence for it in Arab or even medieval Persian sources and suggests it arrived in the region during the Ottoman period.
  • That it was a popular Byzantine dessert.[16] Many Ottoman sweets are similar to Byzantine sweets, using dough, sesame, wheat, nuts and fruits, and some were similar to the Ottoman börek, halva, and so on.[citation needed] There are some similarities between baklava and the Ancient Greek gastris (γάστρις),[17] kopte sesamis (κοπτὴ σησαμίς), kopton (κοπτόν), or koptoplakous (κοπτοπλακοῦς).[18] Gastris is mentioned in the Deipnosophistae[19] and Speros Vryonis called it a "Byzantine favorite".[20] But though gastris contained a filling of nuts and honey, its outer layers did not include any dough, but rather a honey and ground sesame mixture similar to modern pasteli or halva.[21] Even so, there is strong possibility that such similarities are simply due to the natural foods of the common geography that the two empires successively ruled.


Baklava is normally prepared in large pans. Many layers of phyllo dough, separated with melted butter, are laid in the pan. A layer of chopped nuts—typically walnuts or pistachios, but hazelnuts are also sometimes used—is placed on top, then more layers of phyllo. Most recipes have multiple layers of phyllo and nuts, though some have only top and bottom pastry.

Before baking, the dough is cut into regular pieces, often parallelograms (lozenge-shaped), triangles, or rectangles. A syrup, which may include honey, rosewater, or orange flower water is poured over the cooked baklava and allowed to soak in.

Baklava is usually served at room temperature, often garnished with ground nuts.

Regional variations[edit]

In Turkey, baklava traditionally is made by filling between the layers of dough with pistachios, walnuts, almonds (parts of the Aegean Region) or a special preparation called "kaymak" (not to confuse with kaymak). In the Black Sea Region hazelnuts are commonly used as a filling for baklava.[22] The city of Gaziantep in southeast Turkey is famous for its pistachio baklava and regarded there as its native city, though it only appears to have been introduced to Gaziantep from Damascus in 1871.[23] In 2008, the Turkish patent office registered a geographical indication for Antep Baklava,[24] and in 2013, Antep Baklavası or Gaziantep Baklavası was registered as a Protected Geographical Indication by the European Commission.[25]

In many parts of Turkey, baklava is often topped with kaymak or, in the summer, ice cream (milk cream flavour, called "kaymaklı dondurma").

In the Balkans, it is a popular dessert. It is also made on special occasions, especially by Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr, and by Christians during Pascha and Christmas.

In Albania, the dough may include egg yolks,[dubious ] and the filling uses walnuts.[citation needed]

In Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia, baklava is made with walnuts and sugar syrup.

In Greece, baklava is supposed to be made with 33 dough layers, referring to the years of Christ's life.[26]

In Armenia, paklava is made with cinnamon and cloves.[27]

In Azerbaijan, pakhlava is mostly prepared during the Nowruz festivity. After preparation the pakhlava is cut into diamond shapes and each piece is garnished with an almond or a walnut.

In Afghanistan and Cyprus, baklava is prepared into triangle-shaped pieces and is lightly covered in crushed pistachio nuts.

In Georgia, baklava is made with honey, sugar, walnuts, vanilla, butter, and sour cream.

In Iran, a drier version of baklava is cooked and presented in smaller diamond-shaped cuts flavored with rose water. The cities of Yazd and Qazvin are famous for their baklava, which is widely distributed in Iran.[28] Persian baklava uses a combination of chopped almonds and pistachios spiced with cardamom and a rose water-scented syrup and is lighter than Middle Eastern versions.[8][29]

In Israel, baklava is made of phyllo pastry sheets, nuts, such as pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, sweet butter, clove, sugar, cinammon, and the syrup combined with orange and lemon rind.[citation needed]

In Jordan, baklava is made of dough layers filled with nuts, such as pistachios, and sugar or honey syrup.[30]

In Lebanon, baklava is made of filo pastry filled with nuts and steeped in Attar syrup (orange or rose water or sugar) or honey. It is usually cut into triangular or diamond shapes.

In Syria, baklava is prepared from phyllo dough sheets, butter, walnuts and sugar syrup. It is cut into lozenge pieces.[31] Baklava from Aleppo is made with the local pistachios and samna from Hama.[citation needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Merriam-Webster". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  2. ^ "Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition
  4. ^ "Merriam-Webster Online, ''s.v.'' Baklava". Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  5. ^ " Unabridged, ''s.v.'' Baklava". Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  6. ^ a b Paul D. Buell, "Mongol Empire and Turkicization: The Evidence of Food and Foodways", p. 200ff, in Amitai-Preiss, 1999.
  7. ^ Sukhbaatar, O. (1997). A Dictionary of Foreign Words in Mongolian (PDF) (in Mongolian). Ulaanbaatar. p. 25. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  8. ^ a b Batmanglij, Najmieh, A Taste of Persia: An Introduction to Persian Cooking, I.B.Tauris, 2007, ISBN 1-84511-437-X, 9781845114374; page 156.
  9. ^ Marks, Gil, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food, John Wiley and Sons, 2010, ISBN 0-470-39130-8, ISBN 978-0-470-39130-3; page 38.
  10. ^ "a derivation from balg, a common dialect form of barg "leaf", or from Ar. baql "herb" is unlikely", W. Eilers, Encyclopædia Iranica, s.v. 'bāqlavā'
  11. ^ "Dehkhoda Persian Dictionary, باقلبا". Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  12. ^ a b Akın and Lambraki, Turkish and Greek Cuisine/Türk ve Yunan Mutfağı p. 248-249, ISBN 975-458-484-2
  13. ^ Perry 1994, 87
  14. ^ Syed Tanvir Wasti, "The Ottoman Ceremony of the Royal Purse", Middle Eastern Studies 41:2:193–200 (March 2005)
  15. ^ New Book of Middle Eastern Food, 2000, ISBN 0-375-40506-2
  16. ^ John Ash, A Byzantine Journey, page 223
  17. ^ γάστρις, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  18. ^ κοπτός, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  19. ^ Deipnosophists 14:647, discussed by Charles Perry, "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4. p. 88.
  20. ^ Speros Vryonis The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, 1971, p. 482
  21. ^ Charles Perry, "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
  22. ^ "What Is Baklava—and Where to Find the Best Baklava in Istanbul? – Witt Magazine". Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  23. ^ Esther Brunner, "A sweet journey: Güllüoğlu baklava" Turkish Daily News, June 14, 2008.full text
  24. ^ "Bsanna News, February 21, 2008". 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2012-04-22. 
  25. ^ "Publication of an application pursuant to Article 50(2)(a) of Regulation (EU) No 1151/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council on quality schemes for agricultural products and foodstuffs". European Commission. 2009-10-07. Retrieved 2013-12-20. 
  26. ^ Theodore Kyriakou and Charles Campion, The Real Greek at Home, London 2004
  27. ^ The flower of paradise and other Armenian tales by Bonnie C. Marshall, Virginia A. Tashjian, Libraries Unlimited, 2007, p. 179, ISBN 1-59158-367-5
  28. ^ N. Ramazani, "BĀQLAVĀ", Encyclopaedia iranica, Volume 3, Issues 5–8, page 729.
  29. ^ Food and Booze: A Tin House Literary Feast, Michelle Wildgen, Nicole J. Georges, Tin House Books, 2007, ISBN 0-9773127-7-1, ISBN 978-0-9773127-7-1; page 200.
  30. ^ "1000Places : Photo Keywords : madaba : MADABA – A tray of Jordanian baklava—a pastry made of layers of dough filled with chopped nuts, mainly pistachios, and sweetened with sugar and honey syrup.". 2008-01-16. Retrieved 2013-10-02. 
  31. ^ "Baklava recipe on Shahiya". Retrieved 2012-04-22. 


  • Reuven Amitai-Preiss and David O. Morgan, eds., The Mongol Empire and Its Legacy Brill, 1999. ISBN 90-04-11946-9.
  • Paul D. Buell, "Mongol Empire and Turkicization: The Evidence of Food and Foodways", p. 200ff, in Amitai-Preiss, 1999.
  • Christian, David. Review of Amitai-Preiss, 1999, in Journal of World History 12:2:476 (2001).
  • Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994. ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
  • Roden Claudia, "A New Book of Middle Eastern Food" ISBN 0-14-046588-X
  • Vryonis, Speros, The Decline of Medieval Hellenism in Asia Minor, 1971. Quoted in Perry (1994).
  • Wasti, Syed Tanvir, "The Ottoman Ceremony of the Royal Purse", Middle Eastern Studies 41:2:193–200 (March 2005)

External links[edit]