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What Is a Boyoz?

By Sonal Panse
Updated May 16, 2024
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Boyoz, which means "bundle" in the Sephardic Ladino language, is a popular Turkish snack that is sold in bakery shops and by street vendors in Izmir. This Turkish town has been famous for the boyoz pastry and for other Sephardic desserts since the 1500s when the Sephardic Jews fled oppression in Spain and came to settle in Turkey. The boyoz pastry was traditionally prepared only by Jewish bakers, one of the most famous of these being Avram Usta, but this custom has changed in recent times and the pastry is now made and eaten by all Turkish communities.

In Turkish cuisine, the boyoz pastry is generally eaten for breakfast and with hard-boiled eggs and a strong tea. The pastry may be plain or may have a variety of cheese, vegetable or meat fillings. It is customary for the pastries to be shaped in a particular way to indicate the filling used. For instance, pastries with potato fillings may have a triangular shape, pastries with a spinach filling may have a round shape and pastries with eggplant or zucchini filling may be square; this is, of course, not a hard and fast rule.

The principal ingredients used to make boyoz are water, flour, lemon juice, a sesame paste known as tahini, and sunflower oil. The ingredients are mixed and well-kneaded by hand to form a dough, which is then left to sit for about two hours. The dough may then undergo more kneading and more shelf time over a period of several more hours. Once the dough is well-formed and soft, it is cut into small balls and these are then immersed and soaked for an hour in a pan full of sunflower oil.

The next step is to remove the balls from the oil and roll them into neat paper-thin rounds. These rounds are folded around the fillings in the required shapes and the bundles are placed in an oven and baked at a high temperature until they turn a nice golden brown. The pastries are now ready to eat, and generally are best consumed freshly baked and within the day. The boyoz pastries sold by street vendors may be greasier and taste different than the ones sold in specialty shops. In either case, this Turkish pastry is usually eaten with hard-boiled eggs; these are known as huevo haminado or yumurta, and are prepared by roasting the eggs on a low flame with onions and black pepper until the eggs turn brown.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Sep 18, 2011

@turquoise-- That's great, I think you're going to love boyoz. I'd recommend that you have them at cafes and pastry shops though because like the article said, the street vendors make them too oily and not as good. There are so many little cafes that make their own boyoz and serve them fresh and hot.

@alisha-- That's so cool that boyoz has almost the same name in Argentina. I bet it's pronounced similarly too. We sometimes call boyoz different things in Turkey. They say that it used to be called "the Jewish pastry" a long time ago. Some people also call it "oily bread" since it's made with flour and oil. I think boyoz has had fillings from the very beginning though because the name means "bundle." That implies that it is filled with something, don't you think? It wouldn't have been called "bundle" if was a plain pastry.

By discographer — On Sep 17, 2011

I'm pretty sure that I had this snack in Argentina, where it was called bollos. But the description and recipe, everything is the same. The area where I had it is also known for the Jewish populations living there. I think that Jewish families who fled Spain also came to Argentina and neighboring countries and made bollos a local food.

I had plain bollos and spinach bollos in Argentina. I think there was a cheese version that I did not try. I was not served any eggs with the bollos though, so maybe that tradition did not carry over there. My Argentinian friend also told me that the original bollos is the plain one and the other stuffed versions came later.

I'm not sure about what came first, or what is the original version, but I think it's really interesting how one food found its way into so many countries and cultures. It also shows how persecution affected the Jews in Spain causing them to flee, literally all across the globe. Of course, it's a sad part of history, but I also think that Argentinians and Turks would have missed out on a great snack if it hadn't happened.

By turquoise — On Sep 17, 2011

My dad is from Izmir and I've heard him talk about boyoz a lot. I've actually never had it because I've never lived in Izmir and my mom is not from there either. Even though many Turkish people might know about boyoz, I don't think it's found easily in other cities. My dad says that you can find boyoz around every street corner in Izmir and he has a lot of memories about getting off the ferry on his way to work and picking up some boyoz every morning.

I've seen pictures of boyoz though and it actually resembles most Turkish pastries. We Turks, in general, love having pastries any time of the day. It's a regular snack food along with Turkish tea, which gets made three times in my house everyday. I'm going to be taking a trip to Turkey soon though and I can't wait to try some boyoz when I'm in Izmir.

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