Making Cigarette Borek




Making "Cigarette Borek" from EmBoy on Vimeo. General name of this food is "Borek" (also depending on the nationality & language, it's called burek, byrek, boereg, pirog and some other variants on the name) is a type of baked or fried filled pastry, from Turkey, made of a thin flaky dough known as "yufka" (or phyllo dough). It can be filled with cheese,  often feta cheese with some parsley leaves,  kasar cheese, ground beef or vegetables.

A borek may be prepared in a large pan and cut in to portions after baking, or as individual pastries. The top of borek is often sprinkled with sesame seeds

Borek is popular in the countries composing the former Ottoman Empire such as former countries of Yugoslavia, where it enjoys a tremendous pop-culture base, in addition to the rest of the Balkans.

The pastry also enjoys considerable popularity in Magreb, namely Algeria and Tunisia, although it is known by different names there.

The Northern Slavic cuisines, historically living in close contact with the Turkish people of Asia and Europe, also feature derivatives of the Borek.

Borek is also popular in Israel, with the Turkish & Greek variants, that were brought there by the Balkan Jewish communities of the Ottoman Empire.

The best dough for borek "Yufka"  is available in any Turkish delis of New York City. Also, Cigarette Borek" is one of the most popular appetizers in Turkish Restaurants. So, I would say that it's most likely available in any Turkish Restaurant in the world. 

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Step 1: Ingredients

1) 3 egg yolks, 3 tablespoon of olive oil (extra virgin is better), half glass of water. Mix all together in a small bowl.
2) Chilie Powder & Salt.
3) Canola oil or "corn oil" or "vegetable oil". (either one is fine)
4) Half pound of ground beef.
5) Half of peeled onion. (regular size) 
6) Half pack of phyllo dough. Usually 28 layers come in the half of pack. (there are many brands are available in the NYC supermarkets. All of them are super thin and hard to wrap with. I definitely recommend Turkish "Yufka Dough" 

Step 2: Chopping Onion

Chop the half onion in to very small pieces.

Step 3: Cooking Onion

1) Preheat 4 tablespoon of oil in medium size frying pan. (approx. 2 minutes on med. fire)
2) Pour chopped onion in to the hot oil and turn the fire down to lower level.
3) Cook chopped onion stirring about 3 minutes.

Step 4: Add & Cook Ground Beef

1) Add half pound of ground beef  in to the cooked & chopped onion.
2) Add half spoon (small ice cream spoon) of chili powder and a half spoon of salt in to the mixture.
3) Set the fire medium again and cook beef & onion together by mixing about 3 minutes. 

Step 5: Ready Filling

1) When both beef & onion cooked, they should look like this.
2) Pour cooked mixture in to another bowl, dish, etc.
3) Leave it for 10 minutes to cool it down. (you can store it in the refrigerator to speed up the process)

Step 6: Make Phyllo Dough Ready.

1) Open the pack of phyllo dough. (each layer of dough is about 9" x 12")
2) Pick 3 layers of  phyllo dough and fold them once to make it down to the half size. (We fold them, because they are too thin. Thickness makes our job easier)
3) You should have something like this.

Step 7: Apply Egg Yolks

Apply, egg yolk - olive oil - water mixture equally on to surface of dough, like in the picture ( 2 or 3 table spoon of mixture will be enough for each Borek.

Step 8: Get Ready to Wrap

After you apply an egg yolk mixture equally on the surface of a dough, it should look like this.

Step 9: Apply Filling

1)Now you can apply cooled down beef  filling with spoon. (1 and a half of tablespoon beef is enough for each Borek)
2)Keep the beef mixture together, close to the edge of dough. Exactly like in the picture. 

Step 10: Get Ready to Wrap

1)Now you should have something like this.
2) I have approx. 2" of space right and left side of mixture.

Step 11: Wrap It Up-1

1) Start wrapping.
2) Fold left part to the right about 2". Like in the picture.
3) Fold right part to the left about 2". Like in the picture.

Step 12: Wrap It Up-2

You should have something like this.

Step 13: Wrap It Up-3

Start rolling from close side to the far side from yourself. Like tobacco rolling.

Step 14: Wrap It Up-4

Keep rolling until you get a shape of cigar.

Step 15: Finish Wrapping

1) When you finnish wrapping, you should have something like this. Cigar shaped borek.
2) Now it's ready to cook.
3) So, go ahead and make as many as you want.

Step 16: Get Ready to Cook

1) Once you reach certain amount of Boreks, you can start cooking.

Step 17: Preheat Oil

1) Pour half of a small bottle canola oil in to medium size (10" wide) frying pan (1 small bottle contains 24 FLOZ  (1.5PT) 710mL of oil)
2) Set the fire high and heat up the oil about 2.5 minutes.

Step 18: Cook Your Boreks

1) Put your boreks slowly in to the hot oil. Like in the picture.
2) Cook them on their side about 1.5 minute. Then flip them carefully and cook their other side about 1 minute. (second side cooks faster, because of your oil gets extremely hot)
3) About in 2.5 minutes from the beginning, they should look red and crispy.

Step 19: Start Enjoying Your Food

1) Quickly take them out of pan on to a piece of paper towel or a napkin. (paper absorbs oil around Boreks and it makes them even crispier.
2) Now your Boreks are ready. Cool them down about 2 minutes and start enjoying.

Afiyet Olsun!

("Afiyet Olsun" is very common Turkish expression which has been told before you start eating your food. It means "I wish this food gives you extra health and happiness") 

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    24 Discussions


    These look delicious, but I can't eat meat. Could I possibly replace the meat with cooked vegetables? If so, what veggies do you recommend?

    3 replies

    anything! in israel we eat bourekas (we call them) with bulgarian cheese, potatoes, spinach... i make them with salami, salmon and like pizzas! in fact i have a tutorial for the salmon ones.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes. Definitely you can. Here are some other popular Borek filling mixtures.
    -Mashed feta cheese with fresh parsley leaves. (this is my favorite)
    -Mashrooms (cubed and cooked with onion and cubed tomatoes).
    -Mashed potaotes with cooked onions and very thin sliced cooked green peppers. 


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, i was wondering if i could bake them instead. Do you have advice on temperature/timing?

    It's dough, therefore the temperature would be like for bread or pizza (I only know the setting for my oven, not the temperature, lol) and as for timing, I am not sure, I usually make one BIG burek, which takes time to bake, these would be done sooner.
    I guess you have to see whether they are nice and crisp. If in doubt, try one :)


    9 years ago on Introduction

     This reminds me of spring rolls. Is the taste also similar? 


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cheese&parsley filling is my favorite too. ı strongly suggest to eat them as soon as possible before they loose the crispiness.

    Kudos for the instructible. We have so much we can share, but so few people doing it.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    wow these look yummy. Is phyllo dough the same thing they use for spring rolls?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    These look good!

    (If you edited in a small introduction, it would be helpful. Perhaps a little on their background, including how and with what they are traditionally served.)

    1 reply

    I was thinking the same thing.  I have no idea what Borek is, so a few sentences on what it is and why I would want to make it would help.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     They are very delicious. Let me know if you have any issues in cooking steps. I'll be more than happy to help you.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    A dollop of sour cream on the side, Borek = yum!
    Before I made these I had to Google Borek to find out more, a little info about these in the intro would be great. 

     Good lord I love me some borek. Nothing hits the spot better at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday night in Berlin when you've got class in 6 hours and can't get home cause the trains stopped running...

    I suppose they hit the spot in other contexts as well... right now for instance. Yum.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Lets see.... Meat, Dough, Butter, Onions and Deep Frying.... How can it not be great.