Current Weather
The Spy FM

Take Time To Savor The Borek, A Flaky Turkish Snack

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
March 27, 2012

It seems that almost every country knows how to snack better than we do. We grab coffee and a muffin from a drive-through, or mindlessly reach into the chip bag while staring at the screen on our desk. I recently visited a friend in Spain’s Basque country who pointed out, with disdain, the lone cafe in his town that would give you coffee in a to-go cup rather than the standard little demitasse. The idea that you wouldn’t have a few minutes to sit and fully appreciate a cup of coffee and a little snack, either with a friend or the daily paper, was nearly unfathomable.

I hear where he’s coming from. Every now and then, when I catch myself wolfing something down without even registering (let alone appreciating) it, or forgoing breaks altogether, I make a mental note to make up for it. With a proper cup of tea, a proper moment of respite. A proper borek.

Borek are delicious little turnovers from Turkey, the country that invented the meze (well, the word, anyway). In fine Ottoman fashion, Turks are known for putting out table-groaning displays of little bites, from tangy thick yogurt to savory stuffed vegetables. However, as a fan of all things wrapped in dough, I gravitate toward borek.

Maybe it’s because I don’t get enough Turkish food in my life. Or maybe it’s because an individual borek, like any sort of dumpling or turnover, just seems so lovely. It’s like a little gift-wrapped package, just for you, with a delicious surprise inside. And it’s often a bit rich, either from a cheese filling or the oil/butter brushed between layers to keep pastry crisp, so it’s practically built for enjoying between sips of a nice hot beverage.

Many countries have their own version of savory pastry-covered turnovers, from samosas to empanadas — it’s too good an idea to stay in one place. And it’s no surprise that Turks, the people behind phyllo dough (don’t let the Greeks tell you otherwise), have a particularly developed tradition. Borek are made at home as delicate party snacks or enjoyed in shops as a little break, either with a cup of tea or a glass of tangy yogurt-based ayran.

Borek take so many forms that it’s almost hard to talk about them as a whole. But let’s start at the outside: the dough. Your Turkish mother might make her own, but these days it’s totally acceptable to pick up a package of phyllo for those flaky layers (if you live in a place with a particularly well-stocked Middle Eastern market, you can seek out yufka, a slightly thicker version of phyllo that is favored for certain borek). The layers can be greased for crispness, moistened with a savory custard, or even boiled like pasta (for the famous water borek). Alternatively, they can be made with puff pastry for a slightly flakier version.

Fillings also vary, from lamb to vegetables to briny cheese, depending on the season or region (borek have spread beyond Turkey, to become a standard in the Balkans, or a staple of Sephardic cuisine). The fillings are rolled up in dough to form empanada-like half-moons, narrow cigars, coiled snails or ornate rose shapes, or cut into dainty squares from a large pan.

Yes, “borek” covers a pretty big catchall category, encompassing all sorts of delectable snacks. But this wide range shouldn’t be off-putting — it makes it all the more likely that you’ll find a variation you adore. So find a recipe, put the kettle on, and take some time out of your day to enjoy the moment. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

Leave a Reply

10AM to 12PM The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch is our Sunday morning Reggae show, hosted by E-Roy. The Toaster Brunch has an active following of scooter clubs and rastas from around the world. E-Roy is also a high school principal.

Listen Live Now!

12PM to 1PM This American Life

This American Life

Take in a slice of Americana with critically acclaimed host Ira Glass on "This American Life." Each week he picks a theme, then gives his writers and performers the freedom to weave real stories from real people around that theme in a manner they find most engaging.

View the program guide!

1PM to 2PM Seasonal Shows

Seasonal Shows

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center