Burek: Wikis


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Round burek (filled with ground meat)
Cheese and potato-filled bourekas
Serbian rolled burek ("pitice" or "pužići")
Turkish sigara böreği

Börek (also burek, boereg, piroq, בורקס and other variants on the name) is a type of baked or fried filled pastry, from Turkey,[1][2] made of a thin flaky dough known as yufka (or phyllo). It can be filled with cheese, often feta, sirene or kaşar, minced meat, or vegetables.

A börek may be prepared in a large pan and cut into portions after baking, or as individual pastries. The top of the börek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds.

Börek is very popular in the countries composing the former Ottoman Empire such as the former countries of Yugoslavia, where it enjoys a tremendous pop-culture base, in addition to the rest of the Balkans.

The pastry also enjoys considerable popularity in the Maghreb, namely Algeria and Tunisia, although it is known by different names there.

The Northern Slavic cuisines, historically living in close contact with the Turkic peoples of Asia and Europe, also feature derivatives of the Börek.

Börek is also popular in Israel, with the Turkish and Greek variants, that were brought there by the Balkan Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire.



Turkey enjoys a wide variety of regional variations of börek among the different cultures and ethnicities that compose modern Turkey. A few of them are listed below:

  • Su böreği ("water börek") is one of the most common types. Layers of dough are boiled briefly in large pans, then a mixture of feta cheese, parsley and oil is scattered between the layers. The whole thing is then brushed with butter and laid in a masonry oven to cook.
  • Sigara böreği ("cigarette börek," named for its shape) is often filled with feta cheese, potato, parsley and sometimes with minced meat or sausage. A variety of vegetables, herbs and spices are used in böreks such as spinach, nettle, leek, potato, eggplant, courgette, ground black pepper.
  • Kol böreği ("arm börek") is a type of burek prepared in long rolls, either rounded or lined and filled with either mincemeat, feta cheese or potato and baked under low heat.
  • Gül böreği ("rose börek") is a version that is rolled in rose shaped small spirals, possessing mostly a spicier filling than other böreks.
  • Çiğ börek or Çibörek ("raw börek") is a half round shaped börek, filled with raw mincemeat and fried in olive oil, very popular in Turkey in places where a Tatar community exists, such as Eskişehir and Konya.
  • Töbörek is another Tatar variety, that is basically a Çibörek that is baked in a masonry oven instead of being fried in oil.
  • Laz böreği ("Laz börek") a specialty of the Rize region, is, very interestingly a sweet version, that has a filling of Muhallebi or and is served sprinkled with powder sugar.

Albanian byrek or lakror

In Albania, this dish is called byrek or sometimes lakror and it contains mainly spinach but sometimes also meat or cheese. Albanian byrek may also contain pumpkin (which is sweet); it is also often spelled "burek", especially among Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro, as well as by Albanian-Americans.

Arab burek

Arab burek is often stuffed with minced or diced lamb, but often beef or a mixture are used. Various herbs and spices are used to flavour the meat, including curcumin, fresh parsley and nutmeg, as well as often concentrated pomegranate juice which gives the mixture a unique sweet and tangy taste. Fried or caramelized onions are usually always added to the meat, as well as the traditional Arab staple of fried almonds and sultanas or raisins. Traditional Arab cheeses, including Jibin Baladi and Jibin Arab are often used instead of, or alongside the meat. The mixture is wrapped in a sheet of dough, and then fried or deep-fried until crisp, and resembles a large egg roll. While most Börek are made with phyllo dough, some traditional cooks and those in the tribal areas prefer a home-kneaded dough covering.

Arab burek are most often served with other "dry" foods including kibbeh, with a jaljeek dip, forming an integral part of a traditional meze meal.

Armenian boereg

In Armenia, boeregs are stuffed with cheese. They are also stuffed with other fillings such as spinach or ground beef, and the filling is typically spiced.

Assyrian burek

Assyrian burek is usually stuffed with ground beef that has various spices added to it, though potatoes are also sometimes used instead of meat. The stuffing is wrapped in a sheet of dough and then fried in oil and resembles egg rolls.

Bulgarian byurek

The Bulgarian version of the pastry, locally called byurek (Cyrillic: бюрек), is typically regarded as a variation of banitsa (баница), a similar Bulgarian dish. Bulgarian byurek is a type of banitsa with sirene cheese, the difference being that byurek also has eggs added.[3]

In Bulgarian, the word byurek has also come to be applied to other dishes similarly prepared with cheese and eggs, such as chushka byurek (чушка бюрек), a peeled and roasted pepper filled with cheese, and tikvichka byurek (тиквичка бюрек), blanched or uncooked bits of squash with a cheese and eggs filling.[3]

Greek bouréki or bourekáki

Galaktoboureko, sweet burek flavored with lemon or orange

In Greece and Cyprus, boureki (μπουρέκι [bur'eki]) or bourekaki (μπουρεκάκι [bure'kaki], the diminutive form of the word), are small pastries made with phyllo dough or with pastry crust. A special type of boureki is found in the local cuisine of Crete and especially in the area of Chania. It is made with sliced zucchini, sliced potatoes, mizithra or feta cheese and spearmint. The mixture can be covered by a thick layer of traditional phyllo (pastry crust), but it is quite common to be left plain as well.

Galaktoboureko is a syrupy phyllo pastry filled with custard, common throughout Greece and Cyprus. In the Epirus, σκερ-μπουρέκ (derives from the Turkish şeker-börek, "sugar-börek") is a small rosewater-flavored marzipan sweet.


Bourekas are made from puff pastry filled with various fillings. Among the most popular fillings are cheese, mashed potato, spinach, eggplant, pizza-flavor, and mushrooms. The name bourekas is derived from the Ladino language, spoken in the past by Jewish communities in the Mediterranean area.

Israeli bourekas come in several shapes, which are usually indicative of their fillings. Cheese bourekas come in right-angled and isosceles triangles, and have two different sizes. Potato-filled bourekas come in a box shape. Bourekas with a pizza filling resemble a cylindrical shape, while spinach filled bourekas resemble a pastry knot. There are also the so-called "Turkish bourekas" which form rounded equilateral triangles, and are filled with various fillings, whose type can usually be determined by an additional element on the outside.

Bourekas come in small, "snack" size, often available in self-service bakeries, and larger size, approximately 2 inches by 4 inches. The larger ones can serve as a snack or a meal, and can be sliced open, and stuffed with hard-boiled egg, pickles and Skhug, a spicy Yemenite paste.

Former Yugoslavia

Bosnian rolled burek
Buregdžinica in Zagreb

Across the territories of former Yugoslavia, burek is not used in a hyperonymous sense (like pie, cake, etc.), as in Turkey. Burek is regularly available at most bakeries, and usually eaten as "fast food". It is often consumed with yoghurt. Apart from being sold at bakeries, burek is served in specialized stores selling burek (or pitas) and yogurt exclusively (Buregdžinica).

Bosnian burek

In Bosnia and Herzegovina the word burek refers only to a meat-filled pastry dish. Thin dough layers are stuffed and then rolled and cut into spirals (resembling an American cinnamon bun).

The same dish with cottage cheese is called sirnica, one with spinach and cheese zeljanica, one with potatoes krompiruša, and all of them are generically referred to as pita (trans. pie). Eggs are used as a binding agent when making sirnica and zeljanica.

This kind of dough dish is also popular in Croatia, where it was imported by Bosnian Croats, and is usually called rolani burek (rolled burek).

In Serbian towns Bosnian pastry dishes were imported by war refugees in the 1990s, and are usually called sarajevske pite or bosanske pite (Sarajevo/Bosnian pies). Similar dishes, although somewhat wider and with thinner dough layers are called savijača or just "pita" in Serbia.

However, these are usually homemade and not traditionally offered in bakeries.

In Bosnia, burek only refers to one special pastry dish filled with meat. In Serbia and Croatia, one always specifies the type of stuffing (burek sa mesom - 'burek with meat', for instance).

Serbian, Macedonian, Croatian and Slovene (round) burek

In Serbia, Macedonia, Croatia and Slovenia, burek is made from layers of thin dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and topped with a layer of dough. Traditional fillings are stewed ground meat, cheese, apple, sour cherries, mushrooms, and a modern variant, "pizza" burek. Prazan (prazen) burek ("empty burek", i.e. without filling) is also made.

The recipe for modern "round" burek was developed in the Serbian town of Niš, where it was introduced by a famous Turkish baker, Mehmed Oğlu, from Istanbul in 1498.[4]

The first burek in Zagreb was made by famous bakers near the main railway station (Kolodvor) after World War II. Niš hosts an annual burek competition called Buregdžijada. In 2005, a 100 kg/200 lb. burek was made, with a diameter of 2 meters / 6 feet[5] and it's considered to have been the biggest burek ever made.[6]


Çibörek (Tatarstan)

The Tatar version, one of the national dishes of the Crimean Tatars, is called "Çibörek" and is made from unleavened dough filled with ground lamb, onions and spices, fried in oil. It is a common street food in Tatarstan and other former ex-USSR countries. "Cheburek" is the Russian pronunciation of the Crimean Tatar "Çibörek", which means "delicious burek" or "raw börek]] depending on the dialect. That variety is also wildly popular in Turkey where it is mostly called "çiğ börek"(also meaning raw börek in Turkish).

Tunisian brik

Brik is a Tunisian börek, often fried; its best-known variant is composed of a whole egg in a triangular pastry pocket with chopped onion and parsley.

Origin and name

Börek has its origins in the Turkish cuisine (cf. Baklava) and is one of its most significant and, in fact, ancient elements of the Turkish cuisine, having been developed by the Turks of Central Asia before their westward migration to Anatolia[1][2].

Börek in Turkish language refers to any dish made with "yufka. The name comes from the Turkic root bur- 'to twist',[7][8] (similar to Serbian word savijača (from savijati - to twist) which also describes a layered dough dish).

Most of the time, the word "börek" is accompanied in the Turkish language by a descriptive word referring to the shape, ingredients of the pastry, for the cooking methods or for or a specific region where it is typically prepared, (for example, kol böreği, su böreği, talaş böreği, Tatar böreği or Sarıyer böreği).

In the Turkish language, the word "börek" has a wider range of meanings, and can refer to a puff pastry, known as nemse böreği in Turkish language, and to other types of "börek", where the dough is processed somewhat differently from the standard phyllo recipe, like su böreği (water burek), where the dough sheets are briefly boiled in water before layering, and saray böreği (palace burek), where butter is rolled between the dough sheets.[1]

In some other languages, which have borrowed this word, they are using it in a more specific and more narrow sense, as a general term for all kind of dishes prepared with phyllo dough.

Cultural references

  • Burek was and still remains one of the most ubiquitous food in all regions of the former Yugoslavian SFR.   In the 1984 Winter Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Slovenian skier Jure Franko, rather unexpectedly won the first Winter Olympic medal ever for Yugoslavia. During the medal award ceremony, thousands of fans greeted him with the slogan "we love Jurek more than we love burek" ("volimo Jureka više nego bureka").
  • Slovenian hip-hop artist Ali En (now named Dalaj Egol) recorded a song named "Burek" which was a major hit in Slovenia.
  • Macedonian comedians, known under the name K-15, in their musical group called Duo-Trio, recorded a song called "Burek", and it was all about the dish.
  • To this day in Turkey, one may hear an expression often used by the poor, and even by the middle class, saying, "I am not rich enough to eat baklava and börek every day."
  • In Lithuania, çiböreks (čeburekai) introduced by the Turkic Karaim community are sold on Palanga Beach, where peddlers walk around the beach and sell böreks, beer and ice-cream.
  • In 2004 Dino Merlin, a popular Bosnian singer, issued a song and an album called "Burek".
  • Burek Forum is the name of the largest Internet Forum in Serbia, with (as of December 2009) over 800,000 registered users.
  • In Israel, popular films (mostly from the 70s) were given the nickname "Bourekas films" due to their simple nature, their depiction of everyday people and their common target audience, much like the bourekas is a common people food.

See also


  1. ^ a b c Algar, Ayla Esen (1985), The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking, ISBN 0-710-30334-3
  2. ^ a b Perry, Charles. "The Taste for Layered Bread among the Nomadic Turks and the Central Asian Origins of Baklava", in A Taste of Thyme: Culinary Cultures of the Middle East (ed. Sami Zubaida, Richard Tapper), 1994, ISBN 1-86064-603-4.
  3. ^ a b Иванова, Ценка. "Кулинарните недоразумения на българско-сръбската езикова граница" (in Bulgarian). Liternet. http://liternet.bg/publish10/civanova/kulinarnite.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-08.  
  4. ^ Doderović, M. (2004-07-08). "Draži burek nego "Mek"" (in Serbian). Glas Javnosti (Glas Javnosti). http://arhiva.glas-javnosti.rs/arhiva/2004/07/08/srpski/N04070701.shtml. Retrieved 2006-09-06.  
  5. ^ K., D. (2005-09-05). "Slistili i burek od 100 kila" (in Serbian). Glas Javnosti (Glas Javnosti). http://arhiva.glas-javnosti.rs/arhiva/2005/09/05/srpski/N05090402.shtml. Retrieved 2006-09-06.  
  6. ^ "U Nišu okupljeni ljubitelji bureka..." (in Serbian). Revija UNO 129 (NIP "Druga kuća"). http://www.revijauno.co.yu/index.cfm?sect=arhiva&broj=129. Retrieved 2006-09-06.  
  7. ^ Tietze, Türkisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, Band I, Ankara/Wien
  8. ^ Ahmet Toprak (Late 1980s). "Eastern European Connection". Articles on Turkish language. http://www.angelfire.com/in/turkey/dil03.html#doguavrupa. Retrieved 2006-02-14.  

This article contains information from Frosina.org and it is used with permission.

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