What Is Baklava?

A short history of the Middle Eastern dessert that is now enjoyed all around the world

Baklava is a delicious dessert found in many restaurants and delis around the nation, yet it is still an enigma to most people. Many nations can claim the bragging rights to this sweet and savory dessert because the history of Baklava is not well documented. However, the name is Turkish in origin and the dish is believed to have originated during the Ottoman Empire. 

Typically, the dessert is made of layers of phyllo dough, with different spices (such as cardamom or cinnamon) and chopped nuts like pistachios. However, many cultures throughout Europe and the Middle East have their own versions of baklava, some even topping it with rose water instead of honey. 

Most commonly, it is topped with a honey-lemon syrup that's poured over the layers of phyllo dough, spices, and nuts, and allowed to soak in. Today, it remains a popular dessert in Greece and Turkey, and can be found at virtually any Mediterranean or Middle Eastern restaurant or deli in the United States. (Photo courtesy of flickr/Grace Fell).