It’s debatable where the origins of baklava are placed. With its rich and proud history dating back to sometime between the 8th and 15th century B.C., Baklava has become a timeless tradition in Middle Eastern cultures and is now growing in popularity.
Although the history of baklava is not well documented, its current form was probably developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The Sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries every 15th of the month of Ramadan in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı.
There are three proposals for the pre-Ottoman roots of baklava: the Roman placenta cake, as developed through Byzantine cuisine, the Central Asian Turkic tradition of layered breads, or the Persian lauzinaq.
The oldest (2nd century BCE) recipe that resembles a similar dessert is the honey covered baked layered-dough dessert placenta of Roman times, which Patrick Faas identifies as the origin of baklava: “The Greeks and the Turks still argue over which dishes were originally Greek and which Turkish. Baklava, for example, is claimed by both countries. Greek and Turkish cuisine both built upon the cookery of the Byzantine Empire, which was a continuation of the cooking of the Roman Empire. Roman cuisine had borrowed a great deal from the ancient Greeks, but placenta (and hence baklava) had a Latin, not a Greek, origin—please note that the conservative, anti-Greek Cato left us this recipe
Baklava was reserved for the wealthy and affluent of the Middle East and was a staple during the holidays and on special occasions. Each culture infused its own influences in how it was prepared to give it its own unique taste. For instance, in Armenia, Baklava is made with cinnamon and cloves while in Greece, it is generally made with 33 dough layers, referring to the years of Christ’s life. In many parts of Turkey, Baklava is often topped with ice cream (milk cream flavor), while in Israel orange and lemon rind is added to the syrup. This just goes to show how Baklava has become such a timeless tradition.
Thanks to the popularity of Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants in America, the popularity of Baklava has crossed waters and boundaries to now be a delicatessen and a favorite across the Ocean.At Melitropon we prepare fresh, traditional baklava in pans or in portions, as well as delicious kofto (mini baklava pieces) with almond, nuts, chocolate or tiramisu, finger licking good!