In this blog, we echo the delights of Egyptian cuisine, so you can taste them during your trip and live a complete cultural experience: mahshi, kofta, fatteh… and much more. In today’s post, we talk about the popularity of baklava in Egypt: its origin, recipe, and other curiosities that you will like to know before you taste it and enjoy its flavor.
Origin of baklava
As with so many other dishes and sweets around the world, the origins of baklava are not clear. In fact, it may not be Egyptian, but Turkish. In fact, this sweet is also part of the cuisine of many other surrounding countries: Turkey and neighbors in the Eastern Mediterranean, Iran, the Caucasus, or the Balkans.
The country where baklava is best documented is Turkey, especially in Ottoman Empire times. For example, its Janissary soldiers received it as a gift on the night of the 15th day of Ramadan, a date known as Baklava Alayı. Some even venture to indicate the Topkapi Palace as its place of invention.
In any case, it is no less true that pastry based on puff pastry was already a reality much earlier in Arab culture, as demonstrated by launizaj, with a very similar preparation and recipe.
What goes into baklava and how it’s made
Baklava is a sweet made in filo dough, very similar to puff pastry: a dough made of very thin sheets that overlap, achieving a very particular texture. For this sweet, about 20 or even more sheets of filo dough are usually used, distributed between the top and bottom layers.
In between these layers, the filling is placed, which is always nuts: in some cases, walnuts, in others pistachios, in others almonds… or even several of them at the same time, well chopped so that this dough is easier to ingest.
Once this ‘sandwich’ is made, it is moistened with water, cut into squares or diamonds, and baked. After this baking, which is usually three-quarters of an hour, it is allowed to cool slightly and the final and distinctive touch is applied: it is covered with syrup, that is, a mixture of water, cinnamon, sugar, and lemon juice.
Of course, each author can give it their personal touch, for example by applying chopped nuts on the outermost layer of the baklava or sprinkling spices or other aromatic ingredients on them and on the plate. In any case, the result is always very sweet, thanks to the syrup.
Where and how to take baklava
Tasting baklava in Egypt is not a difficult task and you can do it in several ways. The simplest thing is to go to a local pastry shop and buy it, as they are usually sold by weight or in packages made with different types and varieties, according to their ingredients and shapes. In Cairo, you will find many options, including El Abd Bakery.
Another option is to take it in a café, as baklava is the typical accompaniment to tea or coffee in this country. This way, it will provide the perfect sweet touch to a hot drink.
Finally, taking baklava in an Egyptian restaurant is also possible, as many offer them on the dessert menu to conclude the meal. In addition to Cairo, restaurants of all levels in Alexandria, Luxor, and any other major city will put this sweet within your reach as a final touch.
So if you want to try it on your trip, do not hesitate to ask our guides and professionals for advice: they will surely know how to recommend a pastry shop or place where to try it.