Börek in Turkey and the Balkans is a specific name for pastries made with yufka dough. However in Libya Bureek is used interchangably with the Arabic word Fatayir as the generic term for savory pastries.
Any type of dough can be used to make Fatayir/Bureek, including ready made phyllo, spring-rolls or puff-pastry. Savoury pastry fillings include herbs, cheese, vegetables or meat; and the pastries are fried or baked.
Our Bureek recipe starts from scratch, creating thin layers from an unleavened dough. This dough recipe is relatively easy and incredibly versatile, so it has become a staple in the Libyan kitchen. As in puff pastry, the layers of flaky dough are created by repeatedly folding over the dough and rolling it out, but rather than being spread with solid fat, the dough here is rolled with starch and then soaked in oil. This dough only absorbs a little of this oil, so it is a healthy alternative to real puff-pastry. When made right, the bureek is light, with a fine flaky texture.
Makes about 20 pastries
3 cups white flour
1 cup water
3 tbspoon melted butter/ghee
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 heaped teaspoon salt
Veg. oil to cover the rolls of dough
1 beaten egg for brushing
Starch (usually cornfour)
White cheese and dried mint
200g white salty cheese (e.g feta) cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons ground dried mint
Spinach and onion filling:
400g fresh spinach (or Chard) washed, well drained and chopped
2 medium size onions, cuts into thin wings
2 tablespoons butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon freshly grated whole nutmeg (optional)
Mince meat filling:
200g lamb/veal mince meat
1 large finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon mixed spices
Salt and paper to taste
Prepare the dough by combining all the dry ingredients. Mix and then add the liquid ingredients. Mix and knead until smooth, and cover with cling film. Leave to rest, while you prepare the filling
These fillings should be moist but without excess liquid. The amount mentioned above should be reduced appropriately if you want to use more than one of these fillings.
For the white cheese filling, just cut the cheese into small cubes and then mix it with the dried mint
Prepare the spinach filling by melting the butter in a thick base pan. Add the onion wings and cook until soft. Add spinach, stir and cook on medium heat for a few minutes, then add salt and pepper to taste and nutmeg if using.
For the meat filling, melt the butter in a thick base pan and add the mince meat. Cook on medium heat, stir until the liquid has evaporated, then add the chopped onions and the spices. Mix well, cover and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces, work with one and leave the other covered with the cling film.
Sprinkle the work surface with starch. Roll each piece into a rectangle about 20 cm x 40 cm, then sprinkle generously with starch
Roll the dough as in the picture above.
Cut the roll into small pieces about 2 cm width. Repeat the last three steps the same with the second half of the dough.
Arrange the small rolls in a deep plate and cover with vegetable oil. Leave the rolls soaked in oil for at least one hour. After you have used up all the rolls pass the oil through a sieve then use as usual.
Remove one roll from the oil and place it on the work surface in this position , press the top with palm of your hand to flatten it gently.
Now roll out with a rolling pin, until you have a thin strip about 40 cm long.
Put one tablespoon of the filling at one end and fold the dough above the filling to make a triangle shape. Hold the filling with the dough and fold from one side to another to form a triangle as below.
Cut the excess dough.
Do the same for the other rolls, the triangle must be neat and with no filling leaking out.
Arrange the triangles in the tray, brush with beaten egg and bake at 220 C degrees until golden.
When cut in half you can see the separate thin flaky layers of the pastry.
Serve warm in a flat plate.