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Alternative name(s) Gevrek (South Slavic countries), koulouri (Greece), Turkish bagel (United States)[1]
Region or state Turkey, the Balkans
Type Bread
Main ingredient(s) Dough (flour, water, yeast, salt), sesame seeds, molasses

Simit (Turkish), gevrek (Turkish; Macedonian: ѓеврек, Bulgarian: геврек, Serbian: ђеврек) or koulouri (Greek: κουλούρι) is a circular bread, typically encrusted with sesame seeds or, less commonly, poppy, flax or sunflower seeds, found across the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, and the Middle East. Simit's size, crunch, chewiness, and other characteristics vary slightly by region.

In İzmir, simit is known as gevrek ("crisp"), although it is very similar to the Istanbul variety. Simits in Ankara are smaller and crisper than those of other cities. Simits in Istanbul are made with molasses.


The word simit comes from Arabic samīd (سميد) 'white bread or fine flour'.[2] and semolina.[3] The word is also used in Greek, as σιμίτι.[4]

Other names are based on the Greek koulouri (κουλούρι): Aramaic qeluro/qelora; or the Turkish gevrek:[5][6] South Slavic đevrek, ђеврек, gjevrek, ѓеврек, геврек. In Judaeo-Spanish it is known as roskas turkas.[7]


Simit has a long history in Istanbul. Archival sources show that the simit has been produced in Istanbul since 1525.[8] Based on Üsküdar court records (Şer’iyye Sicili) dated 1593,[9] the weight and price of simit was standardized for the first time. The 17th-century traveler Evliya Çelebi wrote that there were 70 simit bakeries in Istanbul during the 1630s.[10] Jean Brindesi's early 19th-century oil-paintings about Istanbul daily life show simit sellers on the streets.[11] Warwick Goble, too, made an illustration of these simit sellers of Istanbul in 1906.[12] Simit and its variants became popular across the Ottoman Empire.


A street vendor of simits in Istanbul

Simit is generally served plain, or for breakfast with tea, fruit preserves, or cheese or ayran. Drinking tea with simit is traditional.

Simits are sold by street vendors in Turkey, who either have a simit trolley or carry the simit in a tray on their head. Street merchants generally advertise simit as fresh ("Taze simit!"/"Taze gevrek!") since they are baked throughout the day; otherwise hot ("Sıcak, sıcak!") and extremely hot ("El yakıyor!" means "It can burn your hand!") when they are not long out of the oven.

Simit is an important symbol for lower and middle-class people of Turkey. Sometimes it is called susam kebabı ("sesame kebab").

Similar products

Certain varieties of Romanian covrigi are similar to simit.

Another type of bread similar to simit is known as obwarzanek in Poland and bublik in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. The main difference is that the rings of dough are poached briefly in boiling water prior to baking (similarly to bagels), instead of being dipped in water and molasses syrup, as is the case with simit.

See also


  1. Raisfeld, Robin and Rob Patronite (2009-10-18). "Lord of the Rings". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2009-11-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Kees Versteegh, ed. (2008). Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics. IV (Q–Z). Brill. p. 262 (entry samīd). ISBN 978-90-04-14476-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Babiniotis dictionary, Andriotis dictionary, s.v.
  5. In parts of Turkey, referring to all crisp breads; see Modern Turkish Dictionary, TDK
  6. Evliya Çelebi's travels, Seyahatname, 1680.
  7. Matilda Koén-Sarano Diksionario Ladino-Ebreo,Ebreo-Ladino,S.Zack,Jerusalem 2010
  8. Sahillioğlu, Halil. "Osmanlılarda Narh Müessesesi ve 1525 Yılı Sonunda İstanbul’da Fiyatlar" Belgelerle Türk Tarihi 2 (The Narh Institution in the Ottoman Empire and the Prices in Istanbul in Late 1525. Documents in Turkish History 2) (Kasım 1967): 56
  9. Ünsal, Artun. Susamlı Halkanın Tılsımı.[The Secret of the Ring with Sesames] İstanbul: YKY, 2010: 45
  10. Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi Kitap I. [The Seyahatname Book I] (Prof. Dr. Robert Dankoff, Seyit Ali Kahraman, Yücel Dağlı). İstanbul: YKY, 2006: 231
  11. Jean Brindesi, Illustrations de Elbicei atika. Musée des anciens costumes turcs d'Istanbul , Paris: Lemercier, [1855]
  12. Alexander Van Millingen, Constantinople (London: Black, 1906)