Rolled Pastry Cigars with Feta and Parsley

Sıgara BöReğI

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This is the first of three recipes for böreks, the pastries that got their name from a Turkish verb meaning ‘to twist’. You can tie yourself in knots trying to fold the pastry as neatly as a Turkish cook. We suggest you just relax and try to make shapes that vaguely resemble cigars (this recipe) or spirals (the next recipe) or square parcels (the third recipe).

The word börek is very old—there’s a reference to a sugar burek in a twelfth-century book called Danişmendname, about the conquest of Anatolia by the Turks, which presumably means we can call böreks ’the breakfast of conquerors’.

The cigar börek is the simplest form, and can be made with commercial yufka (or two layers of filo) instead of rolling out your own pastry. From one sheet of yufka you can make eight to twelve cigars, which you could freeze and then deep fry (without defrosting) when you need them.

Normally sigara böreği are stuffed with just feta and parsley, but I find mint a refreshing addition.

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Ingredients

Cheese Filling

  • 1 bunch flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 300 g (10½ oz) sheep’s feta
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika

Wrapping

  • 1 sheet yufka, about 80 × 80 cm (31½ × 31½ in)(if you cannot buy yufka, or prefer to make your own)
  • 1 egg white
  • sunflower oil, for frying

Method

First make the filling. Pick the mint and parsley leaves (discarding the stalks) and finely chop. Mash the feta with a fork. Break the egg into a small bowl and whisk. Add the feta, parsley, mint and paprika, and stir to a chunky paste.

Place the yufka on a board and cut across four times to create eight wedges (or cut eight times, into 16 wedges, to make cigarillos). Next, fill and fold your cigars. Place the egg white in a bowl. With the round edge of one yufka segment facing towards you, place a strip of filling across the pastry, about 5 cm (2 in) from each edge. Fold the round edge over the strip of filling and press down. Then, fold over about 5 cm (2 in) of pastry from the left side, leaving a straight edge. Finally, fold over a 5 cm (2 in) flap from the right side, leaving a straight edge. Using a pastry brush, brush the top triangle of pastry with egg white and roll the folded part tightly over to make a cigar shape. Repeat this process with the seven other segments.

Place a deep frying pan over high heat and add enough sunflower oil to cover the böreks (about 3 cm/ in deep). Add a drop of water to the oil. If it sizzles, the oil is ready. Carefully add four böreks and fry for 2 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove the böreks from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on paper towel to absorb the excess oil. Repeat with the remaining böreks.

Serve immediately.