Indigenous Ingredients | Walnut

The tan-coloured walnut is the common walnut of Europe, introduced by the Persians into ancient Greece. Ancient Romans brought it to the rest of Europe.

The Persian walnut (now also known as the English and the Italian walnut) has a high oil content, and is used as a salad dressing because of its pungent nutty flavour.

It is also high in vitamin B6 and ion with a high protein content.

Walnuts featured heavily in the traditional foods of ancient eastern Mediterranean civilisations, from the Aegeans and Phoenicians to the Greeks and Scythians, but it was the Ottoman Turks who introduced walnut cookery to Europe, evidenced today by the amount of walnut pastries baked daily from the Balkans to the Caucasus and from the Iberian peninsula to the Swiss alps.



The sweet walnut pastries eaten throughout the Balkans, the Caucasus, Greece and Turkey are older than the hills.

Cut into exquisite diamonds or shaped into delightful parcels they are still thought of as the food of the gods, just as they were 3000 years ago when the Assyrians decided to coat their flatbreads with date molasses and crushed walnuts.

The layered pastries we know today as baklava were refined over centuries of improvisation.

Pistachio rivalled the walnut, sugar syrup replaced date molasses and honey seduced those who believed it was an aphrodisiac.

This is the original, made by the Assyrians eons ago.

  • 500 g chapati flour
  • 250 ml mineral water
  • 250 g date molasses / Basra date syrup
  • 250 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
  • 50 ml water

Make a firm dough with the flour and mineral water. Shape into small balls, roll each one on a floured surface to the size of a tea-plate, 20 cm diameter.

Put a flat iron pan on a high heat for five minutes. Adjust heat, place a disk on the pan, cook for two minutes, flip over and give the other side two minutes. Repeat until all the dough is used up.

Dilute date molasses / syrup in water if necessary.

Spread each disk with a thin layer of molasses, sprinkle with walnuts, roll tightly into a cylinder, and smear molasses over the top. Finish with walnut dust.



In Armenia, Azerbaijan, the Crimea, Georgia, Russia and the Ukraine, walnut pakhlava is a sweet multi-layered pastry.


  • 500 g pastry flour
  • 150 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 150 ml sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 50 g butter
  • 15 g yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Salt, pinch


  • 250 g butter
  • 250 g icing sugar
  • 250 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon 
  • 1 vanilla pod, deseeded
  • Cardamom, large pinch


  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Walnut halves


  • 150 g honey
  • 100 ml water

Dissolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Sieve flour into a large bowl. Mix in butter, eggs, sour cream, salt and yeast liquid.

Form into a dough on a floured surface, knead for 10 minutes. Leave forban hour.

Put the walnuts into a bowl, mix with sugar and vanilla, then cardamom and cinnamon.

Grease a large deep rectangular baking tray.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Cut dough into 13 pieces, form two pieces into one ball.

Roll the large ball out to cover the surface area of the tray and each of the four sides. The dough should be thin, no thicker than 1 mm.

Using the rolling pin, fold the thin sheet over the tray, push down into the corners, leave an overlap.

Melt the butter and brush the dough.

Roll a ball of dough to the size of the surface area of the tray, and, using the rolling pin, lay it on the bottom sheet. Brush with butter and sprinkle the walnut mixture over it.

Repeat with remaining balls.

Bring the sides of the bottom sheet over to enclose the layers. Brush with butter, sealing the edges with the egg.

Brush the top with the egg and cut squares, stopping the knife before the bottom layer. Press one walnut half into each square.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Make honey syrup, remove tray from oven, and brush top with butter. Spoon some of the syrup over the top, allow it to seep into cracks between the squares.

Put back in the oven until it takes on a reddish colour.

Allow to cool, remove from tray and cut into squares.

Dip each square into honey syrup. Give each side of the square three seconds to absorb the syrup.

Leave to cool.

Kadaif / Kadayif


In the Balkans they are faithful to the Ottoman tradition of using shredded filo pastry dough, using margarine instead of butter.

  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 1.5 litres water
  • 750 g tel kadayif (wire pastry dough)
  • 360 g margarine / butter
  • 300 g honey
  • 150 g walnuts, crushed, chopped
  • 50 g vanilla sugar
  • 1 lemon, juice

Flake kadayif over a large rectangular baking tray, sprinkle walnuts on top, then another layer of kadayif, finally the margarine or butter.

Bake at 160°C for 35 minutes, until golden.

Cover and cool.

Dissolve sugar in water, bring to the boil, simmer until the liquid forms into a light syrup.

Heat honey, vanilla sugar and lemon juice.

Pour syrup evenly over the pastry.

Cut into squares.

Dip each square into honey liquid.

In Sarajevo, tradition calls for the kadaif to be served with olives and radishes.



The Greek version.

  • 1.5 kg sugar
  • 1.5 ml water
  • 750 g filo pastry sheets
  • 375 g walnuts, ground
  • 350 g butter
  • 30 g breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 15 g cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 vanilla pod, deseeded

Preheat oven to 160°C.

Combine breadcrumbs, cinnamon and walnuts.

Grease baking tray.

Lay a sheet of pastry on a damp linen towel, cover with one tablespoon of walnut mixture, roll into a sausage shape and place in tray. Repeat until pastry and filling are used up.

Heat butter, drizzle one tablespoon on each sausage.

Bake for 40 minutes, until golden.

Allow to cool.

Dissolve sugar in water, bring to the boil, simmer until the liquid forms into a light syrup.

Add lemon juice and vanilla.

Pour syrup over sausages.

Cevizli Çörek


These walnut parcels from Turkey evolved out of a desire to produce a simple variation of the walnut baklava.

  • 1 kg pastry flour 
  • 500 g walnuts, ground
  • 200 g butter
  • 20 g yeast
  • 15 ml milk, lukewarm
  • 15 g sugar

Disssolve yeast in milk and sugar.

Sieve flour into a large bowl, incorporate butter and yeast mixture.

Form into a dough on a floured surface, knead for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200°C.

Roll dough out and cut into 4cm diameter rounds, 5mm thick.

Spoon some walnut into centre of each round. Fold into a parcel.

Place each pacel on a greased baking tray.

Bake at 160°C for 45 minutes, until the crusts are golden.



A modern Assyrian interpretation, albeit not a pastry. That’s evolution for you.

  • 1.2 litres water
  • 250 g flour
  • 250 g grape molasses
  • 250 g sugar
  • 250 g walnuts
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger

Blend flour, molasses, sugar and water. Boil on low heat until the mixture reaches a thick consistency. Stir in spices, pour into bowls and garnish with chopped walnuts.


Ajika აკაკა GEORGIA

spicy walnut sauce

Aşure TURKEY Noah’s Pudding

wheat pudding with various ingredients including walnuts

Basler Walnussbrot SWITZERLAND

walnut bread with barley, rye starter

Birnenweggen SWITZERLAND

pear wedges with walnuts

Çerkez Tavuğu TURKEY Circassian Style Chicken

chicken with walnuts

Cevizli İncir Dolması / Syka Xerá me Karydia GREECE CRETE TURKEY

dried figs stuffed with walnuts
Layered walnut pastries

Cevizli Sarma TURKEY

layered walnut pastries


bread cake with walnuts

Fondue Apfel-Walnuss SWITZERLAND

cheese sauce with apples and walnuts


sweet walnut cake

Gavurdağ Salatası TURKEY

tomato, cucumber and pepper salad with walnuts


sweet walnut paste

Icli Köfte TURKEY

bulgur, meat balls with walnut filling

Karidópita GREECE

walnut syrup cake

Kartoffel-Baumnuss-Brötchen SWITZERLAND

potato and walnut bread rolls
Potato and walnut bread rolls

Keşli Cevizli Erişte TURKEY

home-made noodles with cheese and walnut sauce

Kharcho ხარკო GEORGIA

meat in walnut sauce

Koripaparani (Cevizli Tavuk Tirit) TURKEY

chicken with walnuts

Lobio ლობიო GEORGIA

beans in garlic-walnut sauce


aubergine with cheese and walnuts

Muhammara TURKEY

bread, red pepper paste and walnuts with yoghurt

Nussbrötchen / Nussbrötli GERMANY SWITZERLAND

milk bread rolls with walnuts

Nüsslisalat mit Frucht Vinaigrette FRANCE SWITZERLAND

cornsalad with fruity vinegar and walnut oil


nut cake with walnuts

Orehove Potica SLOVENIA

walnut bread

Pan de Nueces SPAIN

sweet walnut bread

Rainbow Trout with horseradish, lemon and walnut sauce ENGLAND FRANCE

Walnut rye bread

Roggenvollkorn Walnuss Brot GERMANY SWITZERLAND

walnut rye bread

Salsa di Noci ITALY

walnut sauce


puff-pastry triangles filled with walnuts in syrup


walnut sauce

Skordalia GREECE

garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, potatoes, walnuts

Supë Pule me Arra ALBANIA

chicken and walnut soup

Ynkuyzov Sous Ընկույզով Սոուս ARMENIA

walnut sauce