A History of Borek in Turkey with recipes.

Borek for me is a dish that means Turkey more than the simit and the bread. Because every week in nearly every Turkish household Borek is made in some form and shared with friends and family..

gulborek

Borek comes in many different forms and different fillings, its made with a pastry called Yufka, a thin pastry made from flour, water and salt. This simple thin pastry is an art in itself to make and most housewives prefer to purchase Yufka for the local shop or market than make their own.

Borek is said to have come about during the Ottoman period or perhaps even later during the Roman period in the region. It is thought perhaps it was created by the Turks of Central Asia and brought with them during their migration to Anatolia. Another thought is it came from the Byzantine dish plakountas tetyronmenmous a baked layered dough and cheese dish.

Wherever it’s origins began I am please that it has remained in the Turkish food culture.

A lovely story which shows where the passion of baked goods in Turkey comes from is that the Ottomans believed that Adam the patron saint of Bakers when sent from the Garden of Eden, learned how to make bread for the Archangel Gabriel. This made the Ottoman bakers take great pride in their baking and so it remains in the country now.

Borek is also found in various other regions, many of which where part of the Ottoman Empire at some time. These areas include North Africa, Balkans and Slavic Countries. You will also find a form of Borek in Jewish Cuisines thought to have come from the Ottoman Jewish Communities.

You will also find various forms of borek in Greece, Israel and Bosnian.

There are also many different forms of making borek though the Yufka remains the same. The main types of borek you will come across are:

Su böreği- 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 – can be served as a Meze or Breakfast dish, the Yufka classically is filled with feta cheese and rolled to form a cigar shape, hence the name.
Kol böreği- Is the classic type of borek found in homes, the Yufka is rolled in long tube and placed in round borek trays and baked in the oven. The fillings are various depending on the family.
Gül böreği- Is arranged in spiral resembling a rose shape and filled with various fillings.
Çiğ börek- Is semi circular in shape and filed with raw minced meat and fried in oil. It is immensely popular among the Tatar community of the region.
Laz böreği – Is a sweetened variety filled with a kind of custard type pudding known as the muhallebi. Laz is taken from an ethnic group living in the black sea region of Rize.

So now you know a little more about Borek, here are a two recipes and a few links to Borek Recipes already on Turkish Cooking.

First up is Gul Borek.

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Gul Borek with Feta Cheese and Parsley Filling

4 to 6 sheets of Yufka or Filo Pastry
250 grams, Feta Cheese
225 grams cheddar cheese grated
Bunch of Parsley
2 to 3 Spring Onions
1 tsp, Red Pepper Flakes
Salt

Yoghurt Mix

2 cups of Yoghurt
2 eggs
¾ cup Olive Oil

Sesame or Nigella seeds

First of all mix up the Yoghurt Mix, we use this to spread over the Yufka before adding our filling and for brushing over the top of the Gul Borek before baking.

Then mix up your filling, crumble the feta cheese, add in your grated cheddar cheese, then chop your Parsley and Spring Onions and add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes. Add in some salt to taste, if your cheese is salty be careful how much extra salt you add.

Now comes the simple technical bit.

Take your sheet of Yufka and cut into quarters to make large triangle shapes. Then brush on a fine layer of your yoghurt mix. At the top end of your Yufka place your filling along the edge.

I like to fold in the corners just a little and then roll your pastry into a cigar shape down to the bottom of your triangle shape.

Now from one end of the cigar shape, roll into its self to make a circle which should resemble a rose shape.

Place this onto your baking tray. Continue this process until you have made all your Gul Borek.

Now brush over each of your borek with your yoghurt mix and sprinkle over your sesame or Nigel seeds. I like to mix mine and use both together.

Place your Borek in a heated oven at about 150 c and cook until golden on top.

Next up is Chicken Borek

turkishborek1

Recipe for Chicken Borek

4 to 6 Yufka or Filo sheets

1 whole small chicken boiled

225grams cheddar cheese grated
Cup Garden Peas
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste

Yoghurt Mix

2 cups of Yoghurt
2 eggs
¾ cup Olive Oil

Sesame or Nigel la seeds

I like to use a small whole chicken and boil it or you can use chicken breast if you prefer dependent on the quantity you are making.

Mix up the Yoghurt Mix, we use this to spread over the Yufka before adding our filling and for brushing over the top of the borek before baking.

Shred the boiled chicken and add in your grated cheddar cheese, your peas, red pepper flakes and seasoning to taste.

Cut your Yufka into 4 large quarters then half each quarter again to make small triangle shapes. Then brush on a fine layer of your yoghurt mix. At the top end of your Yufka place your filling along the edge.

I like to fold in the corners just a little and then roll your pastry into a cigar shape down to the bottom of your triangle shape.

Place your rolled borek onto a baking tray. Continue this process until you have made all your Chicken Borek.

Now brush over each of your borek with your yoghurt mix and sprinkle over your sesame or nigella seeds. I like to mix mine and use both together.

Place your Borek in a heated oven at about 150 c and cook until golden on top.

As you see you can use any filling you like and use the yufka in any form. I often use whole Yufka sheets for making large pies and for making desserts, it is very versatile in it’s uses just as Filo. I do find if I use filo it is slightly thinner than more fragile than the Yufka and you must remember to keep your filo under a damp cloth while working with it or it dries out quickly.

The following links are for existing borek recipes here on Turkish Cooking.

My mother in laws tray borek with a spinach and feta filling.

Sigara Borek, great as a meze or breakfast dish.

Tray Borek or Tepsi Borek

Tava borek or Pan Fried Borek

Borek made with puff pastry with a mince filling (filling can be used instead of spinach in above link)

© 2014 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.

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4 Responses to “A History of Borek in Turkey with recipes.”

  1. […] At the check out counter we found cheese or spinach stuffed pastries called panos that remind us of Turkish borek. […]

  2. […] of Istanbul, it is impossible to miss the warm, buttery aroma and seductive window displays of börek shops strategically tucked into nooks and crannies all over the city. Börek are savory […]

  3. 27th August 2016

    Ruru Runoosh Reply

    Thank you for sharing your recipe. We love Turkish borek. As a Palestinian who’s grandparents were driven out of their home in Yafa(TelAviv), I as millions of truth speaking people around the world will correct you. It’s Palestine. Not Israel.

  4. 3rd November 2016

    Doc.sauda Reply

    Hello …the Turkish borek seems tasty ..belonging to N.As…n bokhara origins ..we have similar ..but now living in a country where its hard to find the thin dough sheets …could u plz help me if i try to make the dough sheets ay home n guide me as to the ingredients n how thin the dough spread out should be …thanx alot for sharing the receipe in the first place n stay Blessed …….

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