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Baklava Dessert: The Most Famous Middle Eastern Dessert

Who invented the baklava pastry can be a topic of hot debate. The Greeks and Turkish will argue over the ownership of the sweet baklava dessert. But, the truth is the Byzantine (or Eastern Roman) Empire heavily influenced both cuisines. So, with that out of the way we can look at the food itself. Today, we’ll explore some variations of the popular pastry. We’ll also show you where you can find them!

Baklava is made from layers of filo pastry that are filled with nuts and sweet syrup. Once baked, we coat them in more syrup or honey. Finally, we top them with finely chopped nuts for extra crunch. Either cut into triangles or diamonds, sometimes they feature just one nut type. Other times, they contain multiple nuts. Generally, the regional variations are as follows:

  • Afghanistan: crushed pistachios on top
  • Armenia: (called paklava) cinnamon and cloves
  • Azerbaijan: (also called paklava) covered with almonds or walnuts
  • Albania: filled with walnuts, the dough sometimes includes egg yolks
  • Black Sea: hazelnuts
  • Bosnia: walnuts and cloves
  • Bulgaria: walnuts and honey syrup, sometimes pistachio
  • Cyprus: covered in crushed pistachios
  • Egypt: walnuts and sugar syrup
  • Greece: almonds or walnuts, plus honey and cinnamon
  • Iran: smaller and drier, with rose water
  • Israel: pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, plus sweet butter, sugar, cinnamon, and citrus syrup
  • Jordan: pistachios plus sugar or honey syrup
  • Lebanon: pistachios, walnuts, cashews, pine nuts, and almonds, with orange blossom, rosewater syrup, or lemon juice 
  • Syria: butter, walnuts, and sugar syrup
  • And finally, Turkey: pistachios, walnuts, almonds, and kaymak (a type of cream)
The Famous Antep Baklava

Special mention goes out to Gaziantep, a city in Turkey famous for its pistachio baklava. Introduced to Gaziantep by Damascus in 1871, a geographical indication for Antep Baklava was even registered with Turkey’s patent institute! Think Champagne and the northeast region of France. Additionally, in Gaziantep, they use only locally grown pistachios and feature no added ingredients like cinnamon or rosewater that are sometimes present in other regional versions.

However, you don’t have to travel all the way to Gaziantep to find delicious baklava dessert. Unfortunately, until we can go to Turkey and taste the Antep Baklava for ourselves, let our dessert repository show you where to find locally made baklava pastry that’s deliciously sticky from honey and syrup.

Baklava Blog Image. Image du Blog Baklava.

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