Walking around the streets of Istanbul in the morning, it is common to see people sitting outside bakeries with glasses of tea and plates of börek. The word "börek" describes a group of pastries made with thin Turkish yufka dough. Yufka is a round and extremely thin dough used in Turkish cooking. It is made with simply flour, water, and salt. The best yufka comes from shops where their main product is yufka. People who make yufka are known as "yufkacis."
Due to the flexibility that comes from working with yufka, börek can come in many shapes and be filled with a variety of different fillings. The most common fillings are beyaz peynir (white cheese), kıyma (ground beef), and ıspanak (spinach).
Börek originated in the Ottoman Empire, which is why many countries surrounding modern Turkey also have a similar dish.
When ordering börek from a bakery, it is common to ask for one "portion" of the kind that you want. If you want to order a larger amount, you can order by the half-kilo or full-kilo and it will be cut up and given to you in a box.
Some common types of börek:
- Su böreği- "water börek" is made by boiling the yufka layers, laying them in pans with filling between the layers, and then brushing the top with butter and baking the whole thing
- Kol böreği- "arm börek" is shaped into long rolls, brushed with butter, and baked
- Gül böreği- "rose börek" is simply yufka that is filled and rolled into a rose shape
- Laz böreği- "Laz" is a nickname for the Black Sea region, and this type of börek is filled with custard
- Sigara böreği- this are thin, pen or cigarette shaped börek which are often filled with Lor cheese and fried or baked; they are often made at restaurants as appetizers
- Kürt böreği- also known as "sade" or "plain", this börek has no filling and is often served with powdered sugar on top
Makes 8-10 rose-shaped börek
2-3 full sheets of yufka dough, quartered
1 lb of spinach, chopped (*easier to roll if it is steamed until about half way cooked, but not mandatory)
1 onion, grated
3 1/2 oz Turkish Lor or beyaz (white) cheese (100 grams) (sub: feta)
3 eggs, split
3 large spoonfuls of yogurt
1/4 cup olive oil (60 ml) + more for greasing pan
1/4 cup water (60 ml)
1 teaspoon black pepper (5 grams)
1 tablespoon nigella seeds (çörek otu)
- Preheat oven to 390 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius).
- In a large bowl, mix spinach, grated onion, 1 egg, and black pepper.
- In a small bowl, mix 2 spoons yogurt, 1 egg, oil, and water.
- Take one piece of the cut yufka (should be triangle-shaped) and place some of the spinach mixture along the wide bottom. Next add some crumbled cheese and a 1-2 large spoonfuls of the egg/yogurt mixture. Begin gently rolling from the bottom to get a large coil, and then roll that coil into itself to form a rose shape. Tuck the lose end piece into the bottom-center of the rose. *These instructions are pictured below!
- Place onto a greased baking tray and begin to make your next borek. Continue until you run out of filling.
- In another small bowl, mix 1 egg and 1 large spoonful of yogurt. Using a brush, paint this mixture over the tops of the roses.
- Sprinkle with nigella seeds.
- Place in oven and bake for 30-45 minutes. The tops of the roses should be golden brown.