The Wonderful Taste Of Wheat Turkish Savory Pastries

Dishes involving dough and pastry (Turkish ‘börek’) have occupied an important place in the cuisine of the Turkic peoples since the earliest times.

In all the lands through which Turks have wandered and settled, such dishes have continued to be prepared down the centuries and, adapted to the times, have even inspired new dishes. Among the dough and pastry-based dishes whose importance persists even today, böreks are particularly worthy of being researched and shared for their extraordinary diversity and wide range of techniques.

We can easily trace the footsteps of the Turks in history by following the trail of börek today. Etymologically, the word ‘börek’ derives from ‘börbör’ meaning cover, wrap or enfold, and is commonly used in our day over an expanse stretching from the Caucasus to the Balkans.

Although the cuisines of the West include magnificent baked goods and pastry dishes, they have rarely produced anything resembling börek. The millefeuille technique, whose name comes from the French, was originally borrowed from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (Historically it was known as ‘Nemçe’ or Austrian pastry.) In return, the ‘Strudel’ dough made famous around the world by the Austrians was taken from the technique used in making ‘çarşaf’ or ‘sheet’ börek, which continues to be made today.

The 15th and 16th centuries in particular were a period of diversification and enrichment in börek when many new recipes appear in the Ottoman sources. Normally made in large baking trays, böreks were now produced in small, individual portions, and having a dove fly out of the center a large tray of börek was a traditional entertainment at great Ottoman feasts.  A glance at the research tells us that börek was prepared in the savory as well as the sweet variety. Today however the term börek refers almost exclusively to savory pastries.

HOT CIRCASSIAN CHICKEN WITH BEECH MUSHROOMS IN BAKLAVA LEAVES
Ingredients:
2 chicken breasts,
4 beech mushrooms,
1 tbsp crushed walnuts,
1 cup stale bread crumbs, 1 cup milk, 50 g butter, salt, pepper, 1 clove of garlic, crushed, 2 sheets of baklava ‘yufka’ (thin leaves of dough).

Preparation:
Boil the two chicken breasts, cool, and shred. Saute the four diced beech mushrooms with the tablespoon of crushed walnuts. Add the stale bread crumbs and milk and whisk. Add the salt, pepper, crushed garlic and shredded chicken and simmer briefly, then let cool. Spread the baklava leaves on the countertop and brush with melted butter. Place the Circassian chicken mixture in the center and fold up into a square. Bake in a 180 º C oven for 15 minutes.

BASS WITH VEGETABLES AND GUM MASTIC IN BAKLAVA LEAVES
Ingredients:
100 gr bass, 1 green onion, 1 zucchini, 1 carrot, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley, 1 drop gum mastic, 1 sheet of baklava yufka, salt, pepper, 50 g melted butter.

Preparation:
Saute the grated carrot and zucchini, chopped green onion and half bunch of parsley in 2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the salt, pepper and pounded gum mastic and cook together, then cool. Mix the chopped bass filet with the vegetable mixture. Wrap the filling in the sheet of yufka and place on a baking sheet. Brush with the melted butter and bake in a 180 ° C oven for 15 minutes.

BOSNIAN SPINACH BÖREK
Ingredients:
500 gr flour, 500 g margarine, 100 g yoghurt, 150 g water, 15 g salt,
200 g margarine (for rolling out the dough

Filling ingredients:
1 kg fresh spinach,
2 onions, 200 g white cheese (feta), 1/4 tsp salt,
1/4 tsp black pepper.

Preparation of the spinach filling:
Melt the butter in a pan and saute the finely chopped onions until they begin to color. Add the spinach and saute another 4-5 minutes. When cool, add the white cheese.

Preparation:
Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Add the salt, yoghurt, 50 gr margarine and water and knead to form a soft dough. Divide into four equal portions and work the remaining margarine into each, flattening the dough with your hand as you do so. Place the desired amount of spinach mixture on top of the dough and roll up. Bake in a 170 ° C oven for 45 minutes.