What is a Simit?

Simit can be served with yogurt for breakfast.

A simit is a circular bun encrusted with sesame seeds. While it is most popular in Turkey, similar versions of the bread are common in areas such as the Middle East, Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia. It’s a popular street food, but it’s also served for breakfast with side dishes like yogurt, jam, and cheese.

The specific texture, shape and flavor of simit vary depending on the region. Some forms of bread are crunchy, while others are chewy. Bread shapes can also be different, from the traditional circle to the braid. In general, the simit is usually circular and chewy, characteristics that have led to the bread being called a “Turkish bagel” in the United States of America.

As street food, simits are served by vendors who carry the bread on a tray on their head or on a special cart. Merchants shout as they walk down the street, advertising their wares. Since simit is often baked all day, they often shout that the bread is fresh.

Bread forms similar to simit are available throughout Eastern Europe and the Middle East. There is Greek koulouri, a Serbian version called devrek, Bulgarian gevrek, and Macedonian gjevrek. There is also a Polish version called obwarzanek, which is scalded in boiling water rather than dipped in molasses and water as simit usually is. Bread is generally quite similar across these regions, although there tends to be at least some variation in recipes and preparation.

Traditional ingredients in simit bread include flour, salt, sugar, butter, yeast and egg. Most recipes also include sesame seeds and molasses for the crust. It is made by sifting the dry ingredients, adding the wet parts, and then folding everything together to form a dough. Pieces of dough are rolled into long shapes that look like cigars. They are usually twisted before being joined at the ends to form a circle. Sometimes the dough is formed into a braid.

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Once the simit dough is formed into its final shape, the pieces are dipped in molasses water and dredged in sesame seeds. The pieces are placed on a baking sheet and baked until golden. Some simit recipes exclude yeast and sugar or include olive oil. Other versions use milk instead of molasses water to dip the dough.

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