|Region or state||West Asia, Balkans, South Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of North Africa|
|Main ingredients||Yufka or phyllo; meat|
Börek (Turkish pronunciation: [boe'?ec]; also burek and other variants) is a family of baked filled pastries made of a thin flaky dough such as phyllo or yufka, typically filled with meat. It is found in the cuisines of Western Asia, the Balkans, the South Caucasus, the Levant, Central Asia, and other parts of Eastern Europe. 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 occasionally sprinkled with sesame or nigella seeds.
Börek was a popular element of Ottoman cuisine, and may have been invented at the Ottoman court, though there are also indications it was made among Central Asian Turks; other versions may date to the Classical era of the eastern Mediterranean.
The word börek comes from Turkish and refers to any dish made with yufka. Tietze proposes that the word comes from the Turkic root bur- 'to twist',. Sevortyan offers various alternative etymologies, all of them based on a fronted vowel /ö/ or /ü/. Tietze's proposed source "bur-" (with a backed vowel /u/) for büräk/börek (with fronted vowels) is not included, because sound harmony would dictate a suffix "-aq" with a harmonised, backed /q/. Turkic languages in Arabic orthography, however, invariably write ? and not ? which rules out "bur-" which has a backed vowel /u/ at its core.
Börek may have its origins in Turkish cuisine and may be 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 in the late Middle Ages, or it may be a descendant of the pre-existing Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Anatolian dish en tyritas plakountas (Byzantine Greek? ? ?) "cheesy placenta", itself a descendant of placenta, the classical baked layered dough and cheese dish of Ancient Roman cuisine.
Recent ethnographic research indicates that börek was probably invented separately by the nomadic Turks of central Asia some time before the seventh century.
Börek is very popular in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empire, especially in North Africa and throughout the Balkans. The South Slavic cuisines also feature derivatives of the börek. Börek is also part of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jewish traditions. They have been enthusiastically adopted by the Ottoman Jewish communities, and have been described -- along with boyos de pan and bulemas -- as forming "the trio of preeminent Ottoman Jewish pastries".
Most of the time, the word "börek" is accompanied in Turkish 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, as in the above kol böre?i, su böre?i, tala? böre?i or Sar?yer böre?i.
In Albania, this dish is called byrek. In Kosovo and few other regions byrek is also known as "pite". Byrek is traditionally made with several layers of dough that have been thinly rolled out by hand. The final form can be small, individual triangles, especially from street vendors called 'Byrektore' which sell byrek and other traditional pastries and drinks. It can also be made as one large byrek that is cut into smaller pieces. There are different regional variations of byrek. It can be served cold or hot.
The most common fillings include: cheese (especially gjizë, salted curd cheese), ground meat and onions (ragù style filling), spinach and eggs, milk and eggs with pre-baked dough layers, but it can also be made with tomato and onions, peppers and beans, potato or a sweet filling of pumpkin, nettles (known as byrek me hithra), kidney beans (popular in winter), etc.
Another related dish is Fli, typical from the North of Albania and Kosovo. It is made up of layers of a flour and water batter, cream and butter. Traditionally, it is baked on embers like lakror.
In Armenia, byorek () or borek (), consists of dough, or phyllo dough, folded into triangles and stuffed with cheese, spinach or ground beef, and the filling is typically spiced. A popular combination is spinach, feta, cottage cheese (or pot cheese) and a splash of anise-flavoured liquor (such as raki).
The Bulgarian version of the pastry, locally called byurek (Cyrillic?), is typically regarded as a variation of banitsa (), a similar Bulgarian dish. Bulgarian byurek is a type of banitsa with sirene cheese, the difference being that byurek also has eggs added.
In Bulgarian, the word byurek has also come to be applied to other dishes similarly prepared with cheese and eggs, such as chushka byurek ( ), a peeled and roasted pepper filled with cheese, and tikvichka byurek ( ), blanched or uncooked bits of squash with eggs filling.
In Greece, boureki ( [bu'reki]) or bourekaki (? [bure'kaki], the diminutive form of the word), and Cyprus poureki (?, in the Greek dialects of the island) are small pastries made with phyllo dough or with pastry crust. Pastries in the börek family are also called pita (pie): tiropita, spanakopita and so on. The traditional filling for spanakopita comprises chopped spinach, feta cheese, onions or spring onions, egg, and seasoning.
A special type of boureki is found in the local cuisine of Crete and especially in the area of Chania. It is a pie filled with sliced zucchini, sliced potatoes, mizithra or feta cheese and spearmint, and may be baked with or without a thick top crust of phyllo.
Bougatsa (Greek [bu'?atsa]) is a Greek variation of a börek which consists of either semolina custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo, and is said to originate in the city of Serres, an art of pastry brought with the immigrants from Constantinople and is most popular in Thessaloniki, in the Central Macedonia region of Northern Greece. The Greek city of Serres achieved the record for the largest puff pastry on 1 June 2008. It weighed 182.2kg, was 20 metres long, and was made by more than 40 bakers.
Galaktoboureko is a syrupy phyllo pastry filled with custard, common throughout Greece and Cyprus. In the Epirus, ?-? (derives from the Turkish ?eker-börek, "sugar-börek") is a small rosewater-flavoured marzipan sweet.
In Israel, bourekas (Hebrew: ) became popular as Sephardic Jewish immigrants who settled there cooked the cuisine of their native countries. Bourekas can be made from either phyllo dough or puff pastry filled with various fillings. The most popular fillings are salty cheese and mashed potato, with other fillings including mushrooms, ground meat, sweet potato, chickpeas, olives, spinach, mallows, swiss chard, eggplant and pizza-flavour. Most bourekas in Israel are made with margarine-based doughs rather than butter-based doughs so that (at least the non-cheese filled varieties) can be eaten along with either milk meals or meat meals in accordance with the kosher prohibition against mixing milk and meat at the same meal.
Israeli bourekas come in several shapes and are often sprinkled with seeds. The shapes and choice of seeds are usually indicative of their fillings and have become fairly standard among small bakeries and large factories alike.
For example, Salty cheese (Bulgarian cheese)-filled as well as Tzfat cheese (from the city of Safed) with Za'atar-filled bourekas are usually somewhat flat triangles with white sesame seeds on top. Less salty cheese-filled are semi-circular and usually made with puff pastry. Potato-filled are sesame topped, flat squares or rectangles made with phyllo and tend to be less oily than most other versions. Mushroom-filled are bulging triangles with poppy seeds. Tuna-filled are bulging triangles with nigella seeds. Eggplant-filled are cylindrical with nigella seeds. Bean sprout-filled are cylindrical without seeds. Spinach-filled are either cylindrical with sesame seeds or made with a very delicate, oily phyllo dough shaped into round spirals. Bourekas with a pizza sauce are often round spirals rising toward the middle or sometimes cylindrical without seeds, differentiated from the bean sprout-filled cylinders without seeds by the red sauce oozing out the ends.
Bourekas can also be found with mashed chickpeas, tuna and chickpea mix, pumpkin and even small cocktail frankfurters. Another variation filled with meat (beef, chicken or lamb), pine nuts, parsley and spices are eaten mainly as a main dish but sometimes as meze. The North African version, Brik can also be found in Israel.
Bourekas come in small, "snack" size, often available in self-service bakeries, and sizes as large as four or five inches. The larger ones can serve as a snack or a meal, and can be sliced open, and stuffed with hard-boiled egg, pickles, tomatoes and Sahawiq, a spicy Yemenite paste. Supermarkets stock a wide selection of frozen raw-dough bourekas ready for home baking. Bakeries and street vendors dealing exclusively in bourekas can be found in most Israeli cities. Small coffee-shop type establishments as well as lottery and sports betting parlors serving bourekas and coffee can also be found.
Meat bourekas are less common at bakeries and are considered something which is to be made at home.[clarification needed] Meat bourekas are made from lamb, beef or chicken mixed with onion, parsley, coriander, or mint, pine nuts and spices, They are served as hot meze.
Bourekas have given their name to Bourekas films, a peculiarly Israeli genre of comic melodramas or tearjerkers based on ethnic stereotypes.
In the former Yugoslavia, burek, also known as pita in Bosnia and Herzegovina exclusively, is an extremely common dish, made with yufka and the Bosnian variant is arguably the most regionally prominent. This kind of pastry is also popular in Croatia, where it was imported by Bosnian Croats, and is usually called rolani burek (rolled burek). In Serbia, Albania, Kosovo, Croatia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Slovenia, burek is made from layers of dough, alternating with layers of other fillings in a circular baking pan and then topped with a last layer of dough. Traditionally it may be baked with no filling (prazan, meaning empty), with stewed minced meat and onions, or with cheese. Modern bakeries offer cheese and spinach, apple, sour cherries, potato, mushroom, and other fillings.
In 2012, Lonely Planet included the Bosnian burek in their "The World's Best Street Food" book. Eaten for any meal of the day, in Bosnia and Herzegovina the burek is a meat-filled pastry, traditionally rolled in a spiral and cut into sections for serving. The same spiral filled with cottage cheese is called sirnica, with spinach and cheese zeljanica, with potatoes krompiru?a, and all of them are generically referred to as pita. Eggs are used as a binding agent when making sirnica and zeljanica.
In Serbian towns, Bosnian pastry dishes were imported by war refugees in the 1990s, and are usually called sarajevske pite or bosanske pite (Sarajevo pies or Bosnian pies). Similar dishes, although somewhat wider and with thinner dough layers, are called savija?a or just "pita" in Serbia. These are usually homemade and not traditionally offered in bakeries.
The recipe for "round" burek was developed in the Serbian town of Ni?. In 1498, it was introduced by a famous Turkish baker, Mehmed O?lu from Istanbul.[better source needed] Eventually burek spread from the southeast (southern Serbia, Kosovo and North Macedonia) to the rest of Yugoslavia. Ni? hosts an annual burek competition and festival called Buregd?ijada. In 2005, a 100 kg (220 lbs) burek was made, with a diameter of 2 metres (?6 ft) and it is considered to have been the world biggest burek ever made.[better source needed]
In Slovenia, burek is one of the most popular fast-food dishes, but at least one researcher found that it is viewed negatively by Slovenes due to their prejudices towards immigrants, especially those from other countries of Former Yugoslavia. A publication of a diploma thesis on this at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana in 2010 stirred controversy regarding the appropriateness of the topic. The mentor of the student that had written the thesis described the topic as legitimate and burek as denoting primitive behavior in Slovenia in spite of it being a sophisticated food. He explained the controversy as a good example of the conclusions of the student. Actually, already in 2008, an employee of the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SRC SASA) had attained his PhD degree with a thesis on meta-burek at the University of Nova Gorica.
In Romania, the food falls under the name "pl?cint?" and is most often made with cheese or cheese and spinach. In Dobrogea, an eastern territory that used to be a Turkish province, one can find both the Turkish influence - pl?cint? dobrogeana either filled with cheese or with minced meat and served with sheep yoghurt or the Tatar street food Suberek - a deep fried half Moon cheese filled dough.
The regional cuisine of the Moldavian West bank of the Pruth still yields a type of dumpling-like food called burechiu?e (sometimes called burechi?e) which is described as dough in the shape of a ravioli-like square which is filled with mushrooms such as Boletus edulis, and sealed around its edges and then tossed and subsequently boiled in borscht like soups or chorbas. They are traditionally eaten in the last day of fasting at the time of the Christmas Eve. It is not clear if the burechiu?e derive their name from the Turco-Greek börek (which is a distinct possibility given the fact that Ottoman Moldavia was ruled for many decades by dynasties of Greek Phanariotes who encouraged Greek colonists to settle in the area), so at the receiving end of cultural and culinary influences coming from them, or it takes its name from that of the mushroom Boletus (burete in its Romanian language rhotacised version, and it meant "mushroom" as well as "sponge") by the pattern of the ravioli, which were named after the Italian name of the turnip with which they were once filled.
|archive-url=value (help). Lonely Planet. p. 224. ISBN 978-1-74220-593-9. Archived from the original on 2012-02-29. Retrieved .