What's a Bialy?

Having grown up in New York City, I don’t know if even all Jews know what a bialy is.  Technically it’s not even a Jewish food, but a Polish one. But to me, it’s a Jewish food.


If you ask Wikipedia, which is usually quite good at this sort of trivia, a bialy is:

“a Yiddish word short for bialystoker kuchen, from Białystok, a city in Poland, … and is a chewy yeast roll similar to a bagel [insert editorial snort, here — Nina]. 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 ….”

I adore a good bialy, and it’s harder to find in California than a decent bagel. Ray’s New York Bagels came to the rescue, with their frozen What’s a Bialy.


  • These are available in a lot of stores, including our local safeway. Here’s the link to the stores that carry the bagels, so you should be able to get the Bialys there too.
  • They are GOOD! I mean very good. To say a bialy is nothing more than a bagel that’s not been boiled before baking is like saying your home movie of your visit to Death Valley is just like Lawrence of Arabia without the professional writing, directing, editing and acting. A good bialy is more like a tiny but perfect pizza which is 90% the best “pizza bones” (the crust) ever, and 10% diced grilled onions or maybe poppy seeds or both.


  • They are addicting. Very highly addicting.
  • The instructions on the box are wrong. It says “keep frozen” and then “Pop in toaster or toaster oven…” OK, unless you have one of those toasters with a really wide slot – it would have to be a toaster oven. But more importantly this step will just finish baking them. Bialys then need to be sliced in 1/2 and toasted before you spread them with cream cheese or butter. Since these are slightly esoteric foods, I think the instructions need to be more clear.

But it’s complicated, because you can’t slice them from a frozen state. So this is what I’ve found works best: Nuke them first for about 24 seconds each (depending on your microwave oven) until defrosted sufficiently to slice in 1/2.

Then toast them until lightly browned.

If you moved away from New York City and thought you’d have to go back to get a decent bialy, you were probably right, until now. These are good bialys.


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