January 24, 2021

World War 1 Turkish Bazlama

Turkish World War 1 Recipes

Concealment was impossible; besides, we were in our usual trouble for water. The only inhabitant seemed to be an old woman, who came out of the tent to find out why the children had run back...
 For some minutes the Circassian (for we thought she must be one) stood talking to the two envoys at the door of her tent. Then she signaled us to approach, and invited the whole party inside her abode. Here she offered the equivalent in the East of a chair — namely, a seat on the mats which covered the earthen floor. The amiable old dame next produced a large circular tray, which she set in our midst, and on which she placed some wafer-like chupatties and a couple of bowls of the inevitable " yourt." 

Never did simple meal taste so sweet, but the amount provided served only to whet the appetite of the eight hungry travellers. It was gently suggested that we should like a little more ; we told her we would pay for everything we had. At the same time we produced some of our mugs as likely to provide a method of eating the " yourt " more in keeping with our hunger...Not a thing, however, would our hostess sell : neither flour, wheat, cheese, goat, nor fowls. We asked her to make us some more chupatties, but without avail. No money would tempt her — she was evidently not a Turk, — even the offer of a little tea could not work the oracle. Her hospitality — and it was true hospitality that she had shown to us — was limited to what we might eat on the premises. From what we could gather from her rather peculiar Turkish, the old lady seemed afraid to sell us anything without her husband's consent. It was impossible not to admire her steadfast- ness, and as we left we presented her with three silver medjidies (worth altogether about twelve shillings). On this she relaxed to the extent of allowing us to take three eggs that she had. 

 We tried to find out how far we were from the sea ; but she seemed hardly to know of its existence, so cut off had she been all her life in her mountain fastness. She directed us, however, to some other tents farther down one of the valleys, and said we might be able to buy some food there; so thither we now wended our way. There was a well outside the tent, but it was dry at the time and was being deepened. A few drops of water which she had given us within had come from some distant stream, she said. "Yourt," however, is a wonderful thirst - quencher, so lack of water did not cause any worry for the time being.  

-Maurice Andrew Brackereid Johnston, 1919  

I was inspired to make this after reading 450 Miles to Freedom by Maurice Andrew Brackenreed Johnston, an Indian born soldier in the British army during WWI. In the book, Johnston details his account of his escape from a Turkish POW camp along with 7 other officers. He details eating Chupattis as part of their foraged food but he was likely eating Bazlama, a Turkish version of pita that includes yogurt. It is pronounced "baz-luh-ma." 

This recipe is really good. We ended up eating some of it fresh and the next day we ate it with falafel and tzatziki. Next time I make it, I might add some garlic and herbs. You can store them overnight in ziplock bags at room temperature or freeze them. 

Turkish Bazlama


- 4 Cups Flour
- 3/4 Cup Water
- 3/4 Cup Plain Yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon Dry Yeast
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Oil

- Butter for coating
- Parsley for garnishing 


Mix the yeast with the lukewarm water. Combine flour, yogurt, salt, sugar, oil, and yeast water until a soft ball of dough is formed. Coat the dough in oil and cover the bowl with a warm cloth for about an hour.

Cut into 4-6 pieces and roll into balls. Let the balls sit, covered with a cloth for 10-15 mins. 

Roll the balls out on a lightly floured surface.

Preheat in a cast iron pan on medium to high heat until you see bubbles forming, flip and cook for about 30 more seconds. (Don't grease the pan.) 

Rub with a bit of butter and top with parsley. Eat fresh with some yogurt.    

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