Mmmmm ... Turkish borek !!! Where have you been all my life?
My first taste of cigaret borek (Sigara Boregi) was insanely good.
Thin layers of crackly phyllo are wrapped around a mixture of oozy feta cheese mixed with fresh parsley. The cigar-shaped borak is deep-fried. One taste and I am addicted.
Here's a picture of what a cigaret borek looks like.
Like one of the above links states ...
"Absolutely divine, irresistable delicate thin rolls of filo pastry, crispy on the outside and oozing with melting cheese. Incredibly "more-ish" finger food."
Can anyone tell me more about boreks?
When we traveled to Istanbul last year, we asked our private guide to take us to some local places to eat as the locals do, and for lunch one day, she took us to a well-known borek restaurant in a lovely seaside resort. They served two types of borek: the traditional one only with cheese, and one filled with ground meat. I tried both and while the meat one was okay, the cheese one was absolutely heavenly (and I'm not that fond of cheese)! It was so light and fluffy, a wonderful lunchtime meal. I can't remember what type of cheese was inside -- I don't think it was only feta. We didn't have cigar-shaped boreks, but I vaguely remember that both were the size and shape of a wheel of parmesan cheese, and a serving would be a wedge-shaped slice off the wheel.
If you're ever in NYC, Tony & Tina's in the Bronx looks like a pizzeria, but actually makes and serves Albanian bourek (cheese, meat, pumpkin). The cheese is excellent, although a bit heavier than the Turkish - which I can assert because down in Brooklyn is Gulluoglu, a Turkish bakery which is a branch of the home location in Istanbul. They fly in their bourek, and finish it in ovens at the shop. The cheese bourek is as you describe - outstandingly delicious. Neither, however, is deep-fried; they're baked. A slightly different kind of bourek can sometimes also be found in Maghreb restaurants featuring Moroccan, Algerian, or Tunisian cuisine.
I am not able to tell you any more about bureks, but what you have described is almost the same as what I buy in Chicago. I get them in Greektown & they are called tiropita. It's just like spanakopita, minus the spinach. The shape is different, but the ingredients seem the same. And btw, I love them as well.
There is a tiny Turkish grocery store in Queens - that's where I buy homemade bureks, if I'm lucky - they run out fast. The bureks sold there used to be empanada style pies - just plain doug filled with either meat or cheese and fried. I usually by meat versions filled with minced lamb and lots of paprika. Last time I bought bureks there it was the layered filo type pastry more like you describe. I miss the closed pie version.
If you want to make it yourself, you can find the pre-cut dough triangles at:
Just stuff and roll.
FYI, the fact that this dish is found all around the Mediterranean in various forms goes back to the Ottoman empire and its cuisine, which influenced the whole region.
The dough for sigara boregi is called "yufka." I've purchased it at a Turkish grocery store in Toronto - Marche Istanbul. The boregi I've made (using a recipe from Classical Turkish Cooking) are wonderfully delicious, flavoured with dill, mint and parsley and served with seasoned yogourt for dipping.
Sometimes Israeli borekas are filled with potato... which is my personal favorite. I've also had mushroom ones. I happened to find a pretty good frozen brand (cuz they would be a bit time consuming to make from scratch at home)... the name of the brand is Sabra, they are a bit hard to find but well worth the search.
My ex-wife's Armenian grandma taught her to make boereg (essentially the same thing) with a dough resembling that of egg noodles, only with some corn starch in it and rolled until it's both too elastic to roll AND tissue-paper thin! It's even harder than it sounds, but after we split up I kept working at it until I finally managed to do it. I was soooo proud...and then my new (and still current) spouse said she was sorry but she didn't like them, and when I told my ex of my accomplishment she said, "Oh, God - I don't even try to do that anymore. I just use phyllo sheets!"
Ah, burek! It is my favorite food in the world. In fact, I contemplated writing an entry in the visa contest (where would you go for breakfast?), saying I'd go to any country in the Balkan for a big slice of tasty, chewy, greasy, nummy burek. With a kefir-like yogurt drink to go with it.
Wiki does a nice job of the history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burek#Bu...
I prefer the Balkan burek to the Turkish ones. The dough used is different from phyllo. It's flaky, but chewy because it's slightly thicker.
Cheese and meat are traditional, as is a spinach and cheese mixture (a la spanokopita). It's delish hot or room temp. One big chunk of burek and a yogurt drink for breakfast, and you don't need to eat for another 12 hours. Really.
In the Chicago area, you can go to Restaurant Zupa (pronounced ZHOO-pa) and buy an entire burek. They are very much as the same as you'd get in Serbia, and are divine. Take the burek home and stay for the shopska salad with a lozova rakija, followed by their mixed grill plate. You will flip over their food, and will have plenty of leftovers for the week.
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If anyone knows of where I can get my hands on a burek on the East Coast, please do post of it. I'll drive for hours for a good burek. I've been known to carry them back as my carry-on luggage when I go to Chicago. They are that damn good.
I mentioned them earlier - Tony & Tina's, in the Bronx on 189th and Arthur Ave., sells Albanian borek (cheese, meat, or - sometimes - pumpkin) by the very large slice or the entire pizza-sized borek. The dough has the thick, chewy quality you describe. They also make a tart, tangy thin yogurt.
I love the borek for breakfast, reheated and crisped in the oven (NEVER in the microwave, which steams it to limpness).
This was a great little article by someone that knows it well:
(Ever tried a whole wheat tortilla version?)
And this blog has a step-by-step approach:
This is similar to Bulgarian banitsa - phyllo filled with feta, kashkaval and egg (spinach, meat and pumpkin varieties are also traditional), but it's rolled up into a coil and baked. I make it for family get-togethers (in-laws are Bulgarian). It's additively yummy! http://www.roesing.net/recipes/banits...
I don't know what the origin of these dishes is - the Turks had a huge influence on food an culture of that entire area, so much of the cuisine is similar. And it's all good!