17 April, 2014
Boza is an ancient drink which originated in Mesopotamia 8000-9000 years ago. Starting from the 13th century, with the Ottoman invasion of Anatolia, the Turks introduced the drink under the name 'boza' to the Balkans. The name derives from the Persian word 'buze', meaning 'millet'. The boza produced at that time was sour and contained small amounts of alcohol. In the 17th century, Sultan Mehmed 4th prohibited the consumption of alcoholic drinks, including boza, in the Ottoman Empire. After around two hundred years, the sweet and non-alcoholic Albanian boza became the most popular and dominant type of boza in the Ottoman Empire.
In Albania, boza has traditionally been produced in the region of Kukes, in the northeastern part of the country. It consists of four ingredients: corn (maize) flour, wheat flour, sugar and water. The Albanian boza differs from boza produced in other regions, as the main ingredient of it is corn, while in other countries, such as in Turkey, Bulgaria, and Macedonia, the main component is usually either bulgur, millet, barley or chick peas. Albanian boza has a creamy light yellow colour and it is rather thick in consistency. After bottling, boza should be stored in a temperature of 2-3 degrees C. In these conditions, the drink can be preserved up to a month. Boza should not be allowed to freeze.
Boza has been found to have several health benefits: the drink helps to balance blood pressure, to increase milk production in lactating women and to facilitate digestion. The drink is a valuable nutrient to physically active people, as it contains vitamins A, C, E and four types of vitamin B. Boza is especially suitable for vegetarians and vegans, as it is entirely plant-based and a good source of vitamins and thus constitutes a good substitute for dairy-based drinks. With the accession of Bulgaria in the EU, boza is increasingly being introduced to the EU and sometimes advertised as a drink which enlarges women's breasts. However, this information is controversial and has not been scientifically proved.
After the fall of communism in Albania in 1990, boza lost its popularity in the southern part of Albania. Up to 2003, until the establishment of the Pacara Boza enterprise in Tirana, the drink was produced only in very small quantities in the capital. Today, boza has regained its popularity in Tirana, as it is sold in the majority of the city's grocery stores.
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