Boza | Turkish Fermented Drink

By | on 25th December 2012 | 7 Comments

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 Recipe

Boza Recipe

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.



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.

© 2012 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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7 Responses to “Boza | Turkish Fermented Drink”

  1. 17th September 2015

    Bob Reply

    I have to comment here – I tried making boza with such a recipe several times but it never turned out right. It was always very alcoholic, smelled like fermenting bread dough, and never was tart like good boza.

    Th reason is a misconception/mistranslation/misunderstanding of the word “maya”, which can mean yeast but really refers to any “starter”, be it for boza, bread or yogurt. Old recipes tend to call for “ekmek mayası”, but they didn’t generally use pure yeast like we buy today, they used a sourdough starter, like in the villages, which bakers kept going for years. This contains yeast but also lactobacillus bacteria which consume the alcohol created by the yeast and convert it to acid. This is the “maya” you want.

    Or, you can start your own with a little patience. Make a small amount of the recipe for boza, say, about a cup. Leave it out on the counter in a cool place, covered with a cloth. In about a week, it will get bubbly. It will also smell… Not so nice. This isn’t a problem because you’re not going to drink this! What you have done is grown some wild yeast and bacteria from the air, but also some undesirable critters as well. The next step is to take a few teaspoons of this and inoculate the second small batch. Leave it out the same way as you did the first. You will notice the dispatch will get bubbly more quickly. It will also look a little better, but you’re still not finished. Repeat the process one more time. This time, the mixture should ferment in a day or two. It will also have a nice clean, slightly vinegary smell. If it doesn’t, repeat the process once more. Once you getting a quick fermentation, you can use the starter for full batch. From then on out, just save some of your old Boza to start the next batch.

    What is happened here? Each time you repeat the process, you have a higher percentage of lactobacillus, which creates lactic acid. Lactic acid kills the undesirable bacteria. By the third fermentation, if everything is going right, The lactic acid bacteria will repurchase so quickly that they don’t give the undesirable fellows a chance to get started. This is why you can keep the culture going.

    Afiyet olsun!

    • 23rd October 2015

      Kerry Arslan Reply

      Thank you for the great tip, I will give this a try next time I make it x

      • 23rd October 2015

        Bob Beer Reply

        Yes, do try it. Also I discovered something else – I was thinking about what the Boza shops do in the summer: They make şira (a tart-fermented grape drink, often with some spices), and vinegar, also the product of an acid fermentation. So it occurred to me that the vinegar might help get the starter started. I made a small batch of boiled, sieved millet, added the sugar as usual, but this time I added a teaspoon of live apple cider vinegar (It has to be a vinegar with the “mother,” otherwise it’s useless.) Within a week it was not only bubbling, it was for all practical purposes boza – no funkiness, and it was ready to use.

        Also, do try it with millet, it’s so much better! If you soak the millet for several hours or overnight first, it will boil up in about 45 minutes; let it get *really* soft (almost like rice porridge/lapa), then press it through the finest sieve/strainer you can find. It doesn’t take long. This takes out the bitter germ and any hulls that might be left. Mix in your sugar and proceed as normal. I use only millet, water, sugar and starter.

        In Bulgaria evidently they use millet flour, which they toast first. I tried it but because the whole grain is milled, it maintains the germ, which (although possibly more nutritious) gives it a bitter overtone. I also didn’t like the texture of it nearly as much.

        If you try it, let me know how it works!

  2. 19th October 2015

    Katia Reply

    Thank you very much for your coment. Now I really got a good taste Boza.
    But in stead of doing all the process you describe I putted a teaspoon of yogurt with the yeast and it resulted very good at once.

    • 22nd November 2015

      Bob Beer Reply

      Great! I will try it with a little yogurt some time. It makes sense as that is a Lactobacillus too, though it is probably a different kind than the normal one that ferments boza. Still, since it’s not in “sterile” conditions, wild yeasts will get in and eventually it will adjust. So far I’ve been most pleased with the live vinegar method for the starter (and since boza shops make vinegar and şira in the summer, I would imagine there’s a connection). Anyway, once you have a good starter, you’re in business. Last night I took a bunch to a Turkish restaurant owned by a friend, and the people couldn’t believe they were drinking good boza in Seattle. I even brought some yellow leblebi to have with it. )))

  3. 21st November 2015

    Patricia Boley Reply

    Recipe doesn’t make sense. It tells you to add the yeast twice, before and after ferment

    • 22nd November 2015

      Bob Beer Reply

      True, There is no yeast/starter to add after your fermenting is done; your finished boza *IS* the starter for the next batch.

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