Cultural Heritage of Baklava

When it comes to Turkish dishes, it’s kebab that is first to come to mind and it’s baklava for desserts. Baklava, that is made from forty thin layers of phyllo dough in large trays on special occasions, is a world-famous dessert. Its main ingredient is starch. After the fillings that are crushed with mortar and pestle or in various ways, the hot sherbet is added. Especially in the Middle East and Balkans, it is possible to find many varieties of it. It is prepared by putting walnut, pistachio, hazelnut or nut in between the thin layers of phyllo doughs. Its special sherbet is added when it’s the hottest and it is served after cooling. Baklava, that is recommended to be stored at room temperature, can be eaten after a little bit of heating in winter.  It is made with forty layers of phyllo dough that are made by its chef. Ingredients may vary depending on the region and taste. It is served with cream or ice-cream, as well as alone.  Its filling being generous and sherbet being thick, shows its high quality. It has a wide variety, being in the first place the dry and the wet baklavas. Pistachio, walnut, creamy, Sütlü Nuriye, Şöbiyet and Sarma are the firsts to come to mind. Not only are there varieties made with sherbet but also those made with milk or honey sherbet.

Baklava, that was being distributed to the public freely after a victory in Ottoman times, has always been owned by different nations throughout history and still is. However, every other proof shows it is a Turkish dessert…

Baklava, with its mouthwatering golden roasted shell, is like nothing else. Because it is, as the elders say, the only dessert that appeals to five senses. That’s why it has been held dearly from past to today. Baklava, the delight of our tables, is a product of culture that had a story of its own written. Its importance is due to the adoption by Turks. It is richened with the traditions in Turkish geography. It is diversified by its spread in different regions. Origins of this dessert that has been made in Anatolia for centuries, dates back to four thousand years ago. If we come back to present… This delicious and fulfilling food is owned by many different nations as its developmental history is not recorded. However, the chronology of baklava proves that it was discovered and developed by Turks.

Greece, that calls baklava “baklavas”, is just one of the countries that we fight over its ownership. The Greek claims that it is a Byzantine-derived food for so long. The long-lasting efforts of the Greek to register baklava as a world heritage food of Greeks, have failed in 2013. UN Commission registered baklava as a pure Turkish dessert on 8th August 2013. The official application document for “Antep Baklavası” was published on UN Official Newspaper with the number of C 229/43 and date of 8th August 2013. The approved registration has been the first record from Turkey. Turkish baklava is UN-registered with all the specialties including its production method, pistachio, the recipe of its sherbet and the tray that should be used.

Almost all the nations of the Middle East, East Mediterranean, Balkans and Caucasia; Turks, Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Bulgarians, Armenians introduce baklava as their traditional dessert. Be the origins of baklava lay in the deep roots of Greeks’, Byzantine’s, Turks’ or Arabs’ nomadic traditions; it is necessary to acknowledge that the glamorous and graceful classical baklava of today took its final form in the Ottomans’ time. Being the highly-favorited dessert among the public,  baklava’s reputation had spread into the Palace and it had started to appear on special occasions like eids, weddings and all kinds of celebrations. It was such a serious matter that, a baklava regiment was formed at the Palace, at the end of 17th century. The significance of baklava in the Palace was not only a sign of wealth and refined taste as with mansions but also because it had entered the state manners. The baklava regiment tradition that emerged at the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 18th century was the most obvious sign of this.

In the middle of Ramadan month, as a compliment from the Sultan to the military, baklava was sent from the Palace. One tray for every 10 soldiers was prepared and set up in front of the Palace.

The place that favors baklava a lot and makes it very commonly is, however, Texas, USA. Baklava had arrived this part of the world from the Czech Republic. Czech people that migrated to Texas in the 19th century brought baklava with them. Thus, the Texas Baklava got into the literature.