Boza is a fermented Drink and one of the oldest drinks in Turkey dating back to the 4th Century. Boza is mainly drunk during the winter months and though less common now you may still hear Boza sellers walking around the cold winter streets shouting “boooza”. You will also see various brands of Boza for sale in the supermarkets and market stalls.
Boza is not only found in Turkey you will also find various forms of Boza in, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania,Serbia and Ukraine.
Turkish Boza is made from Wheat Durum, Water, Sugar, Roasted Chickpeas and Cinammon. It is rich in vitamins and carbohydrates. Some of the vitamins found in Boza are calcium, iron, niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, thiamine and zinc.
Boza is filling and warming and because of this and the the nutritional value of the drink it was said the Ottoman Armies were given Boza.
Up until the 17th century Turkish Boza had a 1% alcohol content. Then in the 17th century Sultan Mehmed IV banned alcohol. This ban included Boza. Before the ban in the 17th there were are around 300 Boza shops in Istanbul itself. Meaning 1000s where out of jobs.
Then in the 19th Century a nonalcoholic version from Albania became popular in the Ottoman Palaces and Boza became popular in society again. This is the version you will now find sold here in Turkey.
The oldest Boza shop in Turkey was started in 1876 by Brothers Haci Ibrahim and Haci Sadik they created Vefa Boza which is thicker and tarter than the older versions of Boza. This Boza is made from Millet which is boiled then water and sugar is added. You can still visit the Vefa Bozasi, in Vefa, Istanbul and drink this famous Boza, now made by their great, great, grandchildren.
Boza, is also sometimes know as Boza Beer due to the low alcohol content in some Boza’s. Making Boza takes at least 4 days so be prepared to wait. If you can’t stand to wait that long then you can also get Boza in many shops around Turkey and you may be able to find it in Turkish shops in the UK and US or online.
- Bulgur – 1 cup
- Sugar – 3/4 cups
- Vanilla extract (optional) – 1/2 tsp
- Yeast – 7 g
- Warm Water – 1/2 cup
- Sugar (depending on type of yeast) – 2 tbsp
- Roasted Chickpeas -
- Cinammon -
Soak your bulgur overnight in a large pan. In the morning add more water to cover the bulgur and cook over a low heat until the bulgur has softened. This should take around 3 hours. Add in more water as is needed while cooking.
In a bowl a glass or porcelin bowl is best place a strainer over the bowl and then add some of the bulgur to the strainer. Then with the back of a spoon press out the liquid from the bulgur this is the base of your Boza. Continue this process till you have pressed out the water from all of the bulgur. Remember to empty out your strainer as you add in new bulgur.
Then in another bowl mix the yeast sugar and warm water together then allow to stand for 10 minutes. Then add this mixture to the pressed Bulgur.
Now cover your pressed bulgur and yeast mix with a towel or cheesecloth and allow to ferment. This process with take 2 to 3 days you will see bubbles appear on top of the mixture. Give the mixture a stir even now and again. his will produce the right sourness and smell of the boza.
Once the fermenting his finished, add in your sugar & yeast mix and vanilla extract (optional) Then slowly add in a little water till you get the right consistency of Boza which should be about the same thickness of tomato paste watered down but not as thin as tomato sauce.
Once you get the consistancy you like place the mixture in the fridge overnight and then serve chilled with roasted chickpeas on top and cinnamon sprikled over.
Boza is sometimes best served with a spoon to get the boza at the bottom of the cup.
Keep the Boza in the fridge.
Tip, if you plan to make another batch keep one cup of the first batch of Boza and add this to the new batch instead of yeast.