a Yiddish word short for bialystoker, from
Białystok, a city in Poland, is a small roll
that is a traditional dish in polish
Ashkenazi cuisine. A traditional bialy has a
diameter of up to 15 cm (6 inches) and is a
chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel. Unlike
a bagel, which is boiled before baking, a
bialy is simply baked, and instead of a hole
in the middle it has a depression. Before
baking, this depression is filled with diced
onions and other ingredients, including
(depending on the recipe) garlic, poppy
seeds, or bread crumbs.
The name bialy is short for bialystoker
kuchen (Bialystok's Cake). The bialy is
little known outside of New York City, where
it was originally brought into the United
States by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants during
the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The bialy was first marketed in the United
States during the early 1900s in the state
of New York by Harry Cohen, a proprietor of
a bagel (and later bialy) establishment.
Now, there is a single bialy bakery in
Manhattan, Kossar's Bialys, founded by
Morris Kossar in 1936.
In 2002, former New York Times food writer
Mimi Sheraton wrote a book dedicated to the
bialy, called the The Bialy Eaters: The
Story of a Bread and a Lost World. She
reflected on the ancient art of bialy making
and used Kossar's Bialys as the background,
and its long-time union bakers as key
references for her research that took her to
Poland in search of the original bialy
bakers. She never found them because they
had perished or fled during WWII.