Turkish Sigara Börek Recipe: Crispy Cheese Rolls
Here’s a recipe for sigara börek, savory Turkish pastry rolls stuffed with feta and scallions. This wonderful Turkish dish is a great party appetizer.
Börek is a Turkish pastry with savory filling. The most common fillings are cheese, meat and spinach. I love these tasty little cheese-filled sigara börek (shaped like cigarettes) because they’re great for grabbing and dipping and they’re always a big hit at a party.
My travels to Istanbul left me with a long list of recipes I was excited to make at home. Sigara Börek was high up on the list. These scrumptious cheese filled phyllo rolls are perfect finger food – crispy, crunchy and packed-with-flavor.
One of the best experiences of my Istanbul trip was lunch at the home of our friend’s Ihsan’s mother and sister. We were treated to a home-cooked traditional Turkish meal that began with a rooftop cocktail party. The passed appetizer was Sigara Börek.
That’s where I first fell in love with this dish. I’ve made it many times since I returned home, for my own parties. It’s always a big crowd pleaser.
There are many varieties of Turkish börek. One type that’s extremely popular looks like a white lasagna or a noodle kugel with a flaky, buttery top.
When I was in Istanbul there was a börekçi (börek shop) near my hotel that I walked past every day. That took serious willpower by the way. If not for the fact that I was on a culinary tour and needed to save room for lots of other delicious foods, I would have gone into that shop every day for some borek.
On the last day of my trip, just before we headed to the airport, I decided to get a taste. It was beyond exciting to watch the shop owner cut off a nice big piece for me, chop it up, and pile it into a paper bowl to go.
It was pure heaven!
This sigara börek recipe takes some time but is well worth the effort. The steps are: make the cheese filling; roll up the filling in strips of phyllo; sauté the rolls. Done!
Sigara Borek are such a delicious treat, crisp and flavorful. I love them with the garlicky yogurt sauce but they’re also excellent on their own.
The biggest challenge of this recipe is learning how to handle the delicate phyllo sheets so they don’t dry out or rip. Read through these tips and you should have no problems.
While we’re on the topic of delicious Turkish food, here are a few more of my favorite Turkish Recipes:
Here’s the Sigara Borek Recipe. If you make this I hope you’ll come back to leave a review and let me know what you think.
5 from 3 reviews
Crisp phyllo rolls filled with feta and scallions. A delicious Turkish appetizer recipe.
For The Yogurt Sauce:
For The Borek:
Make ahead and Freezing Instructions: Sigara Borek Rolls can be assembled ahead and refrigerated for a day or two before cooking. Serve them warm or at room temperature.
Uncooked borek rolls can be frozen and cooked straight from the freezer. To freeze, lay the rolls out in layers, with waxed paper in between, in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Keywords: Turkish sigara borek recipe, cheese borek
Börek is made with layers of “yufka”, which is similar to phyllo, and a wide range of fillings. Butter or oil is added in between the layers, which are stacked or rolled into a variety of shapes. Finally, it is given an egg wash and baked in the oven until golden brown.
With many layers of “yufka”, this dish is a sight to behold. A savory baklava of sorts, börek can be found in every pastry shop across Turkey and is eaten for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every household has its own favorite filling whether meat or a mix of vegetables and cheese. Now let’s have a look what börek is and its history.
Börek is made with layers of “yufka”, which is similar to phyllo, and a wide range of fillings. Butter or oil is added in between the layers, which are stacked or rolled into a variety of shapes. Finally, it is given an egg wash and baked in the oven until golden brown. It is common to sprinkle some sesame seeds, cumin or nigella on top, as well.
Turks’ ancestors, having long ago been nomadic, baking loaves of leavened bread wasn’t really feasible. Who was going to carry an oven around from pasture to pasture? Flatbread, however, could be baked over the fire. This is the ancestor of “yufka”. The origins of “yufka” date back thousands of years in Asia Minor (1). To this day yufka or phyllo is not really associated with the Turkic peoples of the steppe, as food writer Charles Perry points out: “Westerners sometimes resist the idea of seeing the Turks – that is, the Central Asian nomads speaking Turkish dialects who began invading Anatolia in the 11th century – as having anything to do with the creation of this elegant, sophisticated product of the kitchen. They tend to look instead to the ancient settled populations of the eastern Mediterranean as the originators of filo” (2).The folk origins of börek speak of an order and recipe of a pre-Ottoman chieftain by the name of Buğra Bey, where the word “büğrek” means “belonging to Buğra Bey”.Aside from the legend, the first mention of börek is in the 13th century “Divan-ı Kebir” while the first recipes date back to 14th century Chinese sources. One of these was a dietary manual by a Turkic physician presented to the emperor of China in 1330. This recipe was filled with mutton, sheep’s fat, leeks and spices (3).The Ottoman Empire saw börek grow and diversify into the many types and forms we see today, but even peasants had their own börek. One of the first recipes for meat börek recipe comes from the western province Bursa in 1502, mentioned in a rule book of all places. Other sources from the 16th century include börek filled with spinach and cheese. The variety of fillings and shapes only increased with the passing centuries (4).With the reign of the Ottomans the börek culture spread all over the continents and many cultures to this day have adapted this in their own way. Greek spanakopita is just one of the many examples.
As previously mentioned, the legend concerning Buğra Bey is just one of the many theories of the origin of the word. Most likely, however, is that it stems from the Turkish verb “bürmek”, meaning “to roll, twist”. (5) The Greek “boureki” and “bourekaki” are derived from this.