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Middle East

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- Bayeh Market
- Sevan's Bakery
- Tabrizi Bakery
- Vouros Pastry

The Ottoman Empire covered much of the Mideast, greatly influencing the cuisine. Each country has its variation of baklava, pastries made with layers of paper-thin phyllo dough and ground nuts. Other pastries use kataife, phyllo dough that looks like shredded wheat.

Watertown, with its large Armenian population, is home to many Armenian Middle Eastern bakeries, most situated within a few blocks of each other.


Sevan's Bakery, 598 Mount Auburn St., Watertown. 617-924-3243. 8 a.m-8 p.m., closed Sun.

Margaret and Kapriel Chavushian, Turkish-born Armenians, have owned this bakery-cum-market since 1975. Their baklava is flavored with orange-blossom water. Specialties include:

Rose: A square phyllo pastry with the corners folded to resemble a blossom around a center filling of whole pistachio nuts.

Mamoul: A thick butter cookie made with semolina and rosewater. It is pressed into a mold and filled with ground dates, walnuts, or pistachios.

Sweet simit: An orange-flavored cookie of finger length, formed into a twist and sprinkled with sesame seeds.


Vouros Pastry, 417 Washington St., Roslindale. 617-426-9766. Mon.-Sat. 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Yes, we know Greece is in Europe, but its pastries have more in common with those of the Middle East. Vouros has been around for two decades; Yiannis Tzigizis, a baker there, bought it several months ago with his wife, Maria. Phyllo-based pastries are popular; Greek seasonings include cinnamon, cloves, lemon, and honey. Specialties include:

Gianiotiko: Phyllo dough filled with ground kataife, almonds, and walnuts, soaked in honey syrup.

Bougatza: Custard sandwiched between layers of phyllo dough and sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Finikia or melomakarouno (literally, honey cookie): A golden oval cookie flavored with orange juice and cinnamon, drenched in honey syrup and sprinkled with walnuts.


Bayeh Market, 118-120 Spring St., West Roxbury. 617-327-3737. Daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

Sami Bayeh worked in computers before taking a break to open and run his pastry shop/prepared foods market/convenience store. A native of Lebanon, he offers both French-style and Middle Eastern pastries, a practice he says is common in Lebanese pastry shops. Specialties include:

Basma: Two layers of ground, shredded phyllo mixed with butter; pistachio filling inside.

Kol wi shkour ("eat and be thankful"): A bite-sized phyllo pastry made with ground cashews. It resembles the shape of a hand with fingers folded over the palm.

Kanafe: Kataife layered with a sweet, slightly chewy white cheese. Best eaten warm, it's available weekends only.


Tabrizi Bakery, 56 Mount Auburn St., Watertown. 617-926-0880. Mon.-Sat. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m.

Mouhamed Tahmili calls this an American branch of his father's Tehran bakery. The baklava here is flavored with cardamom and rosewater. Of note is the bastany, saffron-and-rosewater ice cream studded with chunks of frozen cream or ground pistachios. Specialties include:

Zolbi: A kind of fried dough shaped like small pretzels. It's made from a corn-starch-and-yogurt batter, which is piped into swirls and deep-fried to a translucent finish, then sweetened with a honey-sugar syrup.

Berengi: Bite-sized poppy-seed cookies made with rice and wheat flour and flavored with rosewater.

Nahodi: Cardamom-flavored cookies made with chickpea flour.

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