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Turkish burek is a filled, oven-baked dough pocket. Unrisen dough is rolled out until paper thin, filled and formed into half-moons, spirals, cigars or flowers. Burek is often filled with spinach (ispanakli) and sheep’s milk cheese (peynirli). Burek is baked in an oven until crispy.

What is turkisch burek

The Turkish dish, burek (pronounced booh-REK) consists of crispy filled filo dough pockets. Unrisen filo dough is rolled out until paper-thin, and the dough is then filled and shaped into half-moons, spirals, cigars or flowers. 

Burek filling is made from spinach (ispanakli) and sheep’s milk cheese (peynirli), parsley and sheep’s milk cheese, or finely chopped lamb (kiymali), seasoned potato (patatesli), or all the ingredients put together. The prepared and filled burek is baked until crispy.

Burek is served as lunch, or as a snack but it can also be enjoyed as breakfast. Across Europe, it is eaten as lunch or as a starter served in cigar form.

Like many Turkish dishes, variants of Burkek can be found in surrounding countries. According to culinary historians, these burek-like dishes most likely developed during the Ottoman Empire. In Greece, the dish is called boureki; in Albania byrek; and in Russia pirochki.

East vs. west

In Europe, burek is sold by Turkish bakers along with other Turkish delicacies. In Turkey, however, burek is sold in dedicated shops called borecki. In these shops, burek is more of an art form than just a snack, and customers can choose from different shapes and sizes. Puff boregi, for example, are filled, deep fried dough triangles, while sigara boregi resemble filled cigars. Su boregi, meaning water burek, resemble Italian lasagne and are prepared by pre-cooking or steaming filo dough and then layering and filling the dough before it is oven baked.

Did you know?

In Turkey, the special dough required to prepare burek is made exclusively by men called “Yufkaci” These men require great stamina to roll the dough out until it becomes paper thin and they do so all day long. The “Yufkaci” are seen as true craftsmen. In contrast to this, women generally buy the special dough from the bakers to prepare burek at home.

How to make burek

Cigar shaped “sigara boregi” filled with spinach and sheep’s milk cheese is often enjoyed as a starter in Turkish restaurants. Onions and garlic are normally fried together and freshly shredded spinach leaves are added to the hot mixture. The cooked mixture is then coated with crumbled feta cheese to create a healthy savoury filling. The filling is then deep fried in dough triangles until crispy.

How to eat burek

Burek is best enjoyed with a yoghurt dip.

Also try

Choose burek as part of your Greek mezze-buffet. The tastes of Greece and Turkey combine perfectly, for something a bit spicier, go for a samosa. These spicy dough pockets originate from India.

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