Boza

Boza is slightly alcoholic, sourish, cream-colored, thick drink made of fermented millet. Barley, corn and wheat can also be used to make boza.

Boza is an old drink still found in the former Ottoman lands of Balkans, Hungary, Arabic countries and Iran. Its traces go back to ancient times of Eastern Turkey Iran and Central Asia. On winter evenings in Ottoman times, ‘’boza chats’’ were common in the mansions of Istanbul. Still peddlers sell boza on winter evenings in old districts of Istanbul. You can hear the cry of peddlers in the passageways as winter evening falls: ‘’Boooza, booz.’’

There is one very special boza shop called Vefa Bozacısı (Bozamaker of Vefa) in the Vefa district, in the old town of Istanbul. It was founded in 1876.

They make boza from semolina of millet. They sift millet to use only bigger kernels. They grind them, make flour, and again sift it to separate the chaff and save only the semolina. Later on, it is boiled with water in a cauldron. The boiled semolina becomes dough and is poured on a tray to cool. As it cools, it thickens. Again some more water is added and it is softened and strained in a mixer. This strained boza is called ‘’unrefined boza’’. Then sugar is added and some old boza which starts fermentation. While it ferments it is kept in a cool place for a day.

Boza is served in tall glasses with a pinch of cinnamon on the top. It is nice to have roasted chickpeas with it.

Vefa Bozacısı sell şıra, grape must in summer time. It is a cool summer drink made of raisins. Alcohol percentage is very slight so it is hard to be on the booze with boza.

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