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The Cornish Pasty

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Turkish pasties


This page includes dishes from several countries where they are related but can differ from each other: different regions, regional variations

Byrek (Albania), boereg (Armenia), burek (former Yugoslavia)
Бюрек, byurek (Bulgaria), Μπουρέκι, bouréki, or Μπουρεκάκι, bourekáki (Greece) bourekas /
burekas (Israel), cheburek (Russia), brik (Tunisia), börek (Turkey)

Not all of these are made in the traditional pasty 'turnover and seal' manner, some are made from layered pastries etc and then become somewhat unpasty-like but they are included here because they are all related and for compleatness - this electric web site being "The Compleat Pastypaedia"

As an Armenian friend has written: "Yes, there are many different ways to make Armenian boereg.  We are, after all, talking about a people where if you put three of them together in a room you are likely to get four opinions". 

This sounds like the discussion about the Cornish Pasty and how to make it - don't start on 'crimping'!


Retrieved from Wikipedia - Burek
- with additional photos from cited sources and with acknowledgements at page bottom

Börek are filled savory pastries popular throughout the former Ottoman Empire. They are made of a thin flaky dough known as phyllo or yufka, and are filled with salty cheese (often feta), minced meat, potatoes or other vegetables. Borek may be prepared in a large pan and cut into portions after baking, or as individual pastries. The top of the borek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds.



Börek is originated in Turkish cuisine (cf. Baklava). Börek in Turkish refers to "yufka" dishes. Only in the Turkish language does the word börek have such wide semantics. Therefore, most of the time, the word "börek" is accompanied with another word referring to the shape, ingredients, technique for cooking or a specific region where it is typically prepared, for example, kol böreği, su böreği, talaş böreği, tatar böreği or sarıyer böreği.

In all other languages in which it was borrowed it has been specified, and refers only to some kind of dough layers dish.

The name comes from the Turkic root bur- 'to twist'[1][2] like in Serbo-Croatian, where word savijača (from savijati - to twist) also describes layered dough dish, in Persian būrek.[3]


Börek (Turkey)

Börek is the label name used for pastries made with phyllo dough. Su böreği ("water börek") is the most common type. Layers of dough are boiled in large pans, then, between the boiled dough layers, a mixture of cheese, parsley and oil is scattered. Sigara böreği ("cigar börek") is often filled with feta cheese, potato, parsley and sometimes with minced meat or sausage. A variety of vegetables, herbs and spices are used in böreks such as spinach, nettle, leek, potato, eggplant, courgette, black pepper powder etc.

Kürt böreği ("Kurdish börek") is a fillingless börek, often consumed with powdered sugar sprinkled on top.

Turkish börek
Reproduced with permission from The Famous Turkish Cookery [ These Geocities links no longer work ]
Turkish börek


Boereg (Armenia)

In Armenia, Boeregs are stuffed with cheese. They are also stuffed with other substances such as spinach or ground beef, and the filling is typically spiced.

Armenian boeregs: Cheese (left) and spinach and onion with pinenuts (right)
although this photo was provided privately [Geocities links no longer work]
By kind permission of Gary Rejebian, St James Armenian Church, Evanston IL, USA
Armenian boeregs: Cheese (left) and spinach and onion with pinenuts (right)

About the photograph: "The photo shows squares cut from a large tray of layers of phyllo.  In contrast, my grandfather's town favored a thicker, almost bready dough rolled into a long oval, topped with muenster-style cheese, parsley and onion, and then the long sides folded toward the center.  My wife's family has another way of making boereg: layer the thickest phyllo you can find with cheese and spinach in a high-sided pan then pour a milk & melted butter mixture over it, let the liquid soak in and then bake ... it poofs up and is suitably rich.  She also makes the triangle style with phyllo as appetizers."
NB: "and then the long sides folded toward the center" = Devon-style pasty folding .....


Burek (former Yugoslavia)


Buregdžinica in Zagreb

In the former Yugoslavia, burek is not used as a hyperonym (like pie, cake, etc.), as in Turkish. It has two realizations. One in Serbia, one in Bosnia and one in Macedonia (by all three nationalities-Bosniaks, Serbs and Macedonians). Both dishes are today made in Croatia and Slovenia as well, where they were imported mainly by Serb and Bosnian bakers mainly since the 1960s.

Burek is a regular offer of all bakeries, and usually eaten as "fast food". It is often consumed with yoghurt. Apart from bakeries, burek is sold in specialized stores selling burek (or pitas) and yogurt exclusively, called buregdžinica in Serbo-Croatian (or бурекџилница, burekdžilnica, in Macedonian). These buregdžinicas are actually the only type of bakery to exist before the 1800s. Those are very common in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and quite common in Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia. In Belgrade there were no buregdžinicas until the 90s when burek was from the beginning sold in every bakery in common sense.


Serbian (round) burek

In Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia, the word burek refers to special dough meal. Thick dough layers are squeezed with stuffing and a lot of fat in round baking pan and eventually closed with one big layer. Traditional stuffings are roasted ground meat or cheese. "Empty" (prazan) burek (without filling) is also traditionally made. Additional variants include fillings of apple, sour cherry, mushrooms, and a modern variant of "pizza" burek.

The recipe for modern "round" burek was developed in Serbian town Niš, where it was introduced by famous Turkish baker Mehmed Oglu from Istanbul in 1498.[4]

"Serbian" burek became popular in Croatia and in Slovenia in the 2nd half of 20th century.[citation needed] First burek in Zagreb was made by famous Albanian bakers near main railway station (Kolodvor) after the WW II.[citation needed] There it's known simply as burek, too.

Round burek (filled with ground meat)

Round burek (filled with ground meat)

Every year, there is a burek competition (Buregdžijada) in Niš, the hometown of burek. In 2005, a 100 kg burek was made, with diameter of 2 meters[5] and it's considered to be the biggest burek ever made.[6]


Bosnian (rolled) burek


Bosnian rolled burek

In Bosnia and Herzegovina the word burek refers only to an another kind of dough dish and only when it's filled with meat. Thin dough layers are stuffed and then rolled. Same dish with cottage cheese is called sirnica, one with spinach and cheese zeljanica, one with potatoes krompiruša, and all of them are referred as pita (trans. pie). This kind of dough dish is very popular in Croatia, where it was imported by Bosnian Croats, and usually called rolani burek (= rolled burek). In Serbian towns Bosnian dough dish was imported by civil war refugees in the 1990s, and it's usually called sarajevske pite or bosanske pite (Sarajevo/Bosnian pies). Some similar dishes, although somewhat wider and with thiner dough layers are called savijača or just pita in Serbia. However, these are usually homemade and not traditionally offered in bakeries.

In Bosnia burek is only a special dough dish filled with meat. There is a language tendency in Croatia, to use indeterminated burek only for cheese dough dish. In Serbia, one must always say burek + stuffing (sa mesom 'with meat' for instance).


Byrek (Albania)

In Albania, this dish is called "Byrek shqiptar me perime" ('Albanian vegetable pie') assuming it contains strictly vegetables; it is also often spelled "burek", especially among Albanians in Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albanian-American emigrants from Kosovo.
Albanian byrek are typically savoury, not sweet, and are often served as the main dish of a meal.


Бюрек, Byurek (Bulgaria)

The Bulgarian version of the pastry, locally called byurek (Cyrillic: бюрек), is typically regarded as a variation of banitsa (баница), a similar Bulgarian dish. Bulgarian byurek is a type of banitsa with cheese (sirene), with the difference being that byurek also has eggs added.[7]

In Bulgarian, the word byurek has also come to be applied to other dishes similarly prepared with cheese and eggs, such as chushka byurek (чушка бюрек), a peeled and roasted pepper filled with cheese, and tikvichka byurek (тиквичка бюрек), blanched or uncooked bits of squash with a cheese and eggs filling.[7]

Bulgarian byurek
Bulgarian byurek


Cheburek (Russia)

The Russian version, called "cheburek" (Cyrillic: чебурек) is made from unleavened dough filled with ground lamb, onions and spices, fried in oil. It is a common street food in Russia and other former ex-USSR countries like Ukraine and Georgia.

Russian cheburek
Russian cheburek
If anyone can help in contacting this web site, in Russian .....


Μπουρέκι, Bouréki, or Μπουρεκάκι, Bourekáki (Greece)

In Greece, boureki (μπουρέκι [bur'eki]) or bourekaki (μπουρεκάκι [bure'kaki]) are small pastries made with phyllo dough or with pastry crust. A special type of boureki exists in the local cuisine of Crete and especially in the area of Chania. It is made with sliced zucchini, sliced potatoes, mizithra or feta cheese and spearmint. The mixture can be covered by a thick layer of traditional phyllo (pastry crust), but it is quite common to be left plain as well.

Galaktoboureko is phyllo dough filled with custard.

Greek bouréki
Greek bouréki


Bourekas (Israel)

Bourekas (Hebrew:בורקס) is made out of puff pastry filled with various fillings. Among the popular fillings are cheese, potato mash, spinach, eggplant, pizza-flavor, and mushrooms.

Israeli Bourekas come in several shapes, which are indicative of their fillings. The laws of kashrut require avoiding eating dairy pastries together with ones containing meat, and therefore there is a conventional distinctive shapes to indicate different types of filling of Bourekas. Cheese Bourekas come in right angled and isosceles triangles, and have two different sizes. Potato-filled Bourekas come in a certain box shape. Pizza filled Bourekas resemble a co-centric tower, while spinach filled bourekas resemble a pastry knot. There are also the so-called "Turkish Bourekas" which form rounded equilateral triangles, and are filled with various fillings, whose type can usually be determined by the addition on their outside.

  The Jewish Outreach Institute - Cooking for Shabbatt

Quote - "Bourekasim (Hebrew plural of Bourekas) are a Jewish Sephardic dish and are similar to American turnovers. A Bourekas is an appetizer with leafy dough surrounding a filling (cheese, potato, spinach, mushroom, etc.) on the inside. It is a common treat in Israeli homes on Shabbat."

Photograph reproduced by kind permission of the JOI
QUOTE from a bourekas recipe:

"Put a scant tablespoon of filling on one side of the oval and fold the other side crosswise over the filling to form a half moon shape.

Pinch the edges well together - the characteristic closure is a pleated fold crimping the edges together all the way around the turnover, but you can crimp with the tines of a fork.

Another spelling: Burekas


Brik (Tunisia)

Brik is a Tunisian burek, often fried; its best-known variant is composed of a whole egg in a triangular pastry pocket with chopped onion and parsley.

Tunisian brik sheets
north_african_lunches/index.html - before
Reproduced by kind permission of
Whats for lunch?
  Tunisian brik
north_african_lunches/index.html - after
Reproduced by kind permission of
Whats for lunch?

Whats for lunch? - this is a food blog - I like it!


Burek as a cultural reference

In urban areas of former SFR Yugoslavia more specifically republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, where šatrovački sprang from. A common type of inversion for burek is rekbu.

There is also a musical album by the Bosnian pop singer Dino Merlin with this name.

Slovenian hip-hop artist Ali En (now named Dalaj Egol) recorded a song named "Burek" which was a major hit in Slovenia.

Macedonian comediants known under the name K-15 in their musical form called Duo-Trio recorded a song called "Burek", and it was all about it.

The name of the biggest Internet forum in Serbia is Burek Forum.

Anri Sala, the Albanian video artist, has a work entitled Byrek, featuring an old Albanian woman in Brussels making byreks, mostly in close-ups of her hands. His grandmother had sent him a letter with her recipe but it was far too difficult for him to make himself, so he had to track down someone who could make them.

Bourekas films are an Israeli film genre that was popular in Israel during the 60's and the 70's.

To this day in Turkey, one can hear a common expression often used by the poor, and even by the middle class, saying: "I am not rich enough to eat baklava and burek every day."


External Links


See also

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article - Burek plus additional material

Acknowledgements: many thanks to the following for permission to use photos from their web sites


Celtic spiral animation