Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Turkish Simit or Greek Koulouri: By Whatever Name. . .

. . .the fact is, it is yummy!

One of my favorite foods when eating in Greece is the ‘koulouri’ or in Turkey, the ‘simit’.  It is basically the same food, just known by different names.

Similar versions of this bread-shaped-like-a-huge-donut can be found throughout the Middle East, including Serbia, Egypt, Lebanon and the Balkans. In each place, it is called by a different name. The creations originated centuries ago.

By whatever name, it is one of the cheapest foods to be found in both countries in which we traveled this spring. Depending on your point of view, simit or koulouri is either ‘street food’ or ‘fast food’ (and one of the healthiest fat-and sugar-free fast foods to be eaten.)

We were introduced to the Turkish simit a few years back while exploring the port city of Trabzon, Turkey, (where the photo above was taken). I was so impressed with my new food find, that I wrote about it and had to show off the one I was eating – still warm out of the bakery oven. (Click here for that post).

At a cost of about one Euro or a Turkish Lira (about $1.25US) these baked dough circles encrusted with sesame seeds are so filling that it is easy to eat one for lunch or breakfast. (They are probably great with a bit of jam on them.) We’ve always eaten them on-the-go; purchased from street vendors in both Greece and Turkey who set up carts like the one pictured below.  This enterprising salesman on Ermou Street in Athens had added donuts to his offerings, but they weren’t selling as fast as those sesame wonders.


This fellow also served variety of koulouri, which was new to us. It was filled with chocolate – not an overly sweet chocolate and with a consistency of cake frosting. Those lovelies are stacked on the center right in the photo below. (We split one of them for ‘lunch’ and ate on it all afternoon – as a little went a long way.)


While researching the history of simit and koulouri, I came across a two-year-old web article  that said the Istanbul Simit Tradesman Chamber had petitioned for an international patent for the circular creation to be officially known at the Turkish Simit.  I found no follow up reports, so that will remain a mystery unless one of you kind readers can update us on that initiative.

By whatever name. . .my favorite new flavor came from a small bakery in Mykonos, Greece. It was there I discovered the wonders of the apple-filled koulouri. It was heavenly! Again,purchased for ‘lunch’ but it lasted all afternoon. BTW, if I had to choose between this and apple pie, this tasty morsel would win, hands down!


We came to expect those simit/koulouri vendors and their carts at ferry ports and tourist attractions and along city streets. The most enterprising salesman though was the man who passed us on the Galata Bridge as we walked over Istanbul’s Golden Horn. He was selling to the fishermen who lined the bridge:


Have you tried these tasty treats or something similar? Where did you eat them and by what were they called?

We are linking up this week with Inside Journeys Foodie Tuesday and Noel Morata’s Travel Photo Monday. Hope you’ll come back again later this week for another serving of our Greek and Turkish travels. As always, thanks for your time and your comments!


  1. I know of these through Greek people back in Australia, but haven't ever eaten one, Jackie. Now that apple version is what I'm going to look out for on some future trip. Sounds delicious. I really like your photo series here, too.

    1. Andrew, you must try one of these - soon! I think you will be hooked once you do! Thanks for the visit today - as always, it is appreciated!!

  2. Replies
    1. Just pop on over to one of those countries listed Heather and enjoy those wonderful little treats! Thanks for stopping by today~ xo Jackie

  3. Thanks for introducing me to this, Jackie. Sounds delicious and filling. And inexpensive by our standards. Wonder if they got the patent?
    Thanks for linking up this week!

    1. The story actually said it was sparked by a comment by President Obama about another food - he referred to it as Greek and the Turks took objection to that and decided to at least 'save' their claim to the simit. Pretty amazing - this small world of ours, isn't it?

  4. Jackie, I have not tried the Greek version, but you are right. They are all over Turkey. Many people will eat them for breakfast. There are still many simit vendors who carry them on their heads, but not as many as in yesteryear! Great post!

    1. Corinne, thanks for stopping by today. I am looking forward to your Sunday Travel Inspirations and will be joining in. I also noticed "Washington State" on your future's list. . .when and where? Perhaps we could meet up?

  5. They are enormous and look so good! :-) I love toasted sesame seeds on bread. Delish. :-)

    1. And don't you think they have to be healthy with all those sesame seeds? Thanks for the visit! xo

  6. Hi Jackie,

    Well, returned to the island yesterday and guess what?! My first 'fast food' was a delicious KOULOURI at about 7:30 this morning!!! We picked it up from a local bakery on the way to my husband's village, as we needed to go and vote for the European elections. How I missed them! Mine was extra crispy, with a touch of honey, and topped with black and white sesame seeds. I nibbled on it for about an hour and a half, until we reached Kamares (near Zaros, do you know it?), along with a gorgeous cappuccino, (every one I tried in Toronto I had to toss!). This tasty treat, in addition to a beautiful, scenic drive through the Psiloriti mountains was a wonderful welcome home.

    Are you back in the States? What happened with the house hunting in Crete?

    Hope to hear from you soon!

    P.S. Haven't blogged since May 13th, but just HAD to reply to your post here!

  7. Hi Poppy, I wondered where you were as I did notice you hadn't posted a blog in a bit of time. Yes we are back in the States. We sure had a fabulous time in Greece though and as always rekindled our love affair with Crete (didn't find a house there though). And I do miss Koulouri!! It was difficult to write this post without my mouth watering at the thought. I am glad you are back safe and sound and look forward to the doses of Crete that you'll provide until we can get back there. Thanks so much for taking the time to write. I hope your elections turn out well for Greece and its residents! Keep in touch~ Hugs, Jackie

  8. Just came back from Athens and was surprised to see the simit is a popular food there. It is amazing, delicious, tasty, filling, all the good things about food.. You name it. I know the Turkish simit very well and was mad about it when I visited Istanbul before, but never knew the Greek also have it. I feel there is a slight difference in the recipe of both, the Greek simit is lighter than the Turkish one, but both are amazing


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