Borek, boureki or burak is a kind of Turkish pastry made of a dough very thin in nature. The pastry may be fried or baked and belongs the family of yufka also known as phyllo. The borek is filled with feta cheese, vegetables or minced meat and belongs to the Ottoman cuisine which had originated in Anatolia of the modern Turkey.
The boureki is usually made in a large pan and then cut into individual pieces. Variations of the borek recipe also allow for the pastry to be baked into smaller independent units. The surface of the borek is generally sprinkled with sesame seeds.
The boureki is part of the traditional Ottoman cuisine and prepared by people belonging to a number of other countries who had been in close contact with the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. The Jews of Israel also have their own borek recipe especially the Mizrahi or the Oriental Jews. The Sephardic Jews who have migrated to Israel from the countries of the Mediterranean region consider the borek as part of their own cuisine.
History Of The Borek Recipe
The borek recipe is believed to have originated in the Central Asian provinces of Turkey before being popularized in Anatolia. The name borek refers to any of the dishes prepared with yufka or the thin, unleavened Turkish bread. The boureki or borek is always preceded by another word which describes the shape or the ingredients of the filling. It can also refer to a puff pastry in the Turkish language whereas the other cuisines which have borrowed the boureki recipe have narrowed down the meaning to all pastries prepared with phyllo or yufka.
Ingredients And Borek Recipe
The filling along with some cheese (could be feta or any other similar kind) and the yufka dough is enough to make the borek. While the phyllo dough sheets can be bought from the supermarket or any of the specialty stores there are people who prefer to make the yufka from scratch.
It is imperative to place the dough sheets on a flat and slightly damp surface in order to prevent them from drying too quickly. The filing is then placed on one end of the phyllo sheet which needs to be brushed with butter. The dough sheet is now gently moved over the top of the filing covering it completely. The entire strip of borek dough now needs to be folded over the filing in a criss-cross manner so that it takes the shape of a triangle. The excess dough is usually trimmed off and the edges pressed firmly before the boureki is fried in hot oil. The pastry can also be baked at 350F which makes it a healthier borek recipe.
Variations Of The Borek Recipe
There are a wide range of boreks eaten in modern Turkey. Each of them are named differently according to their shape or the nature of the filling within. Some of the most popular forms of boureki are:-
Su böreği- The commonest type of borek is prepared by arranging the dough in layers with a filing of feta cheese, parsley and oil. The dough is then boiled in a pan and brushed with butter before serving.
Sigara böreği- Shaped like a cylinder this particular type of boureki can be filled with potatoes, feta cheese, parsley, mince meat or sausages.
Kol böreği- Is a long roll baked in low temperature and filled with potato, cheese and minced meat.
Gül böreği- Is arranged in spiral resembling a rose. This borek is spicier than the pastries made according to the common borek recipe.
Çiğ börek- Is semi circular in shape and filed with raw minced meat. It is immensely popular among the Tatar community of the region.
Laz böreği – Is a sweetened variety filled with a kind of rice pudding known as the muhallebi. It is sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving.
Variations Of Borek In Other Cuisines
The borek is popular in many countries and eaten with relish in almost countries of the Mediterranean region, Arabian Peninsula and North Africa. The recipes deviate slightly from the traditional one according to the local taste and customs. Some of the variations of borek recipes are:-
Arab Burek- Filed with minced beef or lamb meat and spiced with herbs and pomegranate seeds.
Bulgarian byurek- Contains a filling of sirene cheese and eggs.
Greek bouréki- Filed with potatoes, cheese, zucchini and spearmint and baked without the thick crust of the phyllo pastry.
Israeli Borek- Refers to a puff pastry with a variety of fillings.
Bosnian borek- A spicy pastry filed with meat. It resembles the cinnamon bun of America.
Nutritional Value Of Borek
Borek is considered to be a high calorie food. It contains saturated fats along with a good amount of cholesterol. The amount of vitamins and minerals depend on the nature of the filling used.
Dino Merlin, the well known Bosnian singer has recorded an album called ‘Burek’.