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Baklava (Ottoman Turkish: باقلوا) is a rich, sweet pastry made of layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire and much of central and southwest Asia. One of the oldest known recipes for a sort of proto-baklava is found in a Chinese cookbook written in 1330 under the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty under the name güllach.

Local versions

In Turkey, Gaziantep 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. In 2008, the Turkish patent office registered a geographical indication certificate for Antep Baklava. Baklava from Aleppo is made with the local pistachios and samna from Hama.

In the Balkans, it is generally only eaten on special occasions; by Muslims, mostly during the holy month of Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr. In Albania, baklava is very popular dessert. The dough may include egg yolks, and the filling uses walnuts.

In Iran, a drier version of baklava is cooked and presented in smaller diamond-shaped cuts flavored with rose water. The city of Yazd is famous for its baklava, which is widely distributed in Iran. Persian baklava uses a combination of chopped almonds and pistachios spiced with cardamom and a rose water-scented syrup and is lighter than other Middle Eastern versions.

In Azerbaijan, pakhlava is mostly prepared during the Novruz 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 Armenia, baklava is made with cinnamon and cloves.

In Syria, baklava is prepared from phyllo dough sheets, butter, walnuts and sugar syrup. It is cut into lozenge pieces.

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