The Boza Maker of Ortahisar front
Ortahisar is flying under the radar on places to visit in Cappadocia.

When compared to Avanos, Ürgüp, Göreme, and Üçhisar; there’s not a lot to see in Ortahisar.

ORTAHISAR’S BOZA MAKER

But there is…SOMEONE…to see in Ortahisar.

Bozacı Hüseyin.

Actually, it’s Hüseyin Bozacı, but let me explain.

Turks have last names that identify who they are. There are last names like Balikçı (fisherman), Peynirci (cheesemaker), and Demirci (steel worker). Bozacı is someone who makes Boza and that’s exactly what Hüseyin Bozacı does. So we call him “Bozacı” Hüseyin! (That’s the longest, most complicated, intro to a post you’ll ever read).

Why do you have to meet Hüseyin, you may ask?

Because I have never met a Turk as joyful as Hüseyin!

I walked into his 60 square foot tea house to get warm from the cold outside. I didn’t even get to sit down on the traditional Turkish sedir or receive a tea because Hüseyin said “Follow me.” In my mind I was thinking “Ah, Hüseyin, you’ve got a table and a cash register, where you goin’?”

So we pass the payment desk and walk into a cave with a quaint little room decorated with antiques and Turkish memorabilia. Then we go upstairs to another long room decorated the same. I could tell Hüseyin was loving this as he kept saying “There’s more, there’s more.” And indeed he was right. SIX rooms later, my jaw is on the floor, and I can’t wait to write about this place on the website!

He married an Ortahisar bride, and I asked if this was an inheritance from his wife. “No, this was three houses that were in ruined condition. The landlords said I could rent it”, Hüseyin said. He opened one of the downstairs rooms as a döner shop 15 years ago. That wasn’t his specialty so he opened the cafe. And true to his name he brought Boza to Cappadocia.
The Boza Maker of Ortahisar inside

Boza is an interesting drink made of bulgur, rice, sugar and water. Then it’s fermented with yeast to give it a tangy, sweet flavor. Top it with cinnamon and roasted chick peas and you’ve got traditional Boza. (Although Hüseyin held off on the chick peas, for which I was thankful).

TRADITIONAL BOZA- A DRINK

Hüseyin could bring Boza to Ortahisar because he is originally from Istanbul. Boza making started in Istanbul with Albanian immigrants in the Ottoman Empire during the 16th century. “We used to push a cart around shouting “Boza” in the streets. If I did that here people would beat me” Hüseyin laughed as he told me about his family history. His ancestors were Boza makers, but Hüseyin never learned how to make it. “My uncle was one of the last to make it, and he was going to teach me, but he passed away.” So now Hüseyin buys the stock from Istanbul and ferments it himself.

Hüseyin opened the cafe sixteen years ago. Tourism was not a big thing in Ortahisar at the time. Everybody there worked on their farms and gardens to make a living. Nobody wanted to invest in foreigners even though there were lots of them around Cappadocia. With that in mind, Hüseyin opened the cafe. Starting with the döner room, little by little he cleaned out another room, connected it to the other rooms, decorated and opened it to guests.

“Everything’s changed”, Hüseyin said about the life of the cafe now. “This is an alcohol free cafe so we get families and couples all the time. People feel comfortable and most people know each other. When we first opened people would sit in a room and when another customer came in they would talk to each other and drink tea together. Now, everybody’s on their phone, and if somebody comes in, they don’t want to sit next to anybody. They want to go to their own room!”

Naturally I wondered how a person from Istanbul has adjusted to life in Cappadocia. “I told my brother, ‘I can’t take it anymore’ and gave him the keys and told him I was going to hang myself in the room downstairs” he explained, more with hand motions and actions than with words, which is why he is so funny. He still misses Istanbul so he will get away every few months to visit his native city.

I continued to ask him questions and he continued to serve me. First tea, then Boza, then Turkish coffee. He was going to bring the sahlep but I was done. “Next time”, I told him.

And there will definitely be a next time.

I suggest you make a time too to visit the Bozacı Hüseyin.

RECIPE – HOMEMADE BOZA

Here’s the recipe if you want to try and make it yourself.

Ingredients

• 2 and 1/2 cups bulgur
• ½ cup rice
• 15 cups water
• ½ teaspoon instant yeast
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1 and 1/2 cups extra sugar
• Cinnamon and roasted chickpeas for topping

Instructions

1 Fill a large and deep pot with 14 cups water.
2 Wash bulgur and rice very well, add them into the post and boil until mushy.
3 Strain them using a fine strainer and pressing with a spatula. Throw the dregs away.
4 Let it sit uncovered away from the sun for about 2 hours.
5 Mix 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast with 1 cup water and add into the pot. Cover it with the lid.
6 Let it sit in a cool place for about 20 hours stirring every once in a while.
7 Add the rest of the sugar after 20 hours and stir well.
8 Keep it in refrigerator.

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Christian Dedrick is an English teacher living in Avanos. He has lived in Turkey since 2008 with his wife and three sons. He moved to Cappadocia in 2011 and is excited to be sharing stories from his life here. He enjoys spending time with Cappadocians, hearing, and telling their stories.
He began writing for CaptivatingCappadocia in spring 2012.
Click here to read more about Christian.