Börek is a general Turkish term for filled pastries, related to other Mediterranean words for this delicacy: boureki (Greece), pierogi (Italy), pirochki (Russia).
The filling is often white sheep’s milk cheese and a chopped vegetable such as parsley or spinach.
Often the dough is paper-thin yufka (phyllo) layered, rolled or folded around the ingredients, then baked, steamed or fried.
Börek is eaten for breakfast, lunch, for a snack, or packed and eaten cold on the road. It’s varied, versatile, delicious, inexpensive and, in many of its forms, vegetarian.
Like gözleme (Turkish crêpes), börek is distinguished by variety, and can often be found in these varieties at a börekçi(börek shop):
ıspanaklı= with spinach
karışık = with everything
kaşar peynirli = with yellow cow’s milk cheese
kıymalı= with ground lamb
patatesli = with mashed potatoes
peynirli = with white sheep’s milk cheese (feta)
My favorite böreks include:
“Puff” börek: little triangular pillows of pastry filled with white cheese and chopped parsley, then deep-fried (which is when they puff up).
“Cigarette” börek: cigar-shaped tubes of pastry rolled around white cheese and chopped parsley, then deep-fried.
“Water” börek: layers of thin dough sprinkled with white cheese and chopped parsley, then steamed, cut into squares and served hot or cold, often for breakfast or as a snack—a kind of simple Turkish lasagna.
—by Tom Brosnahan