Turkish bakeries produce the most divine bread that you will ever eat. Gorgeous smells flood the nostrils and it’s hard to resist running in and indulging!
But did you know that many bakeries also make savoury pastries to delight your tastebuds?
Choosing a savoury pastry in Turkey isn’t the same as choosing between a sausage roll or Cornish pasty (as delicious as they may be). You are presented with a whole selection to choose from – an adventure in itself.
The Turkish love of pastries
Turkish people must be genetically bound to love pastries by now – they’ve been eating them since the nomads of Central Asia called an early börek (pastry dish) ‘buğra’, after Buğra Khan of Turkestan.
Börek are distinguished by their filling, cooking method and shape; square and cheesy (sometimes with spinach), cigar-shaped and meaty, plain and moist, pointy and potato chunky. They are made with very fine sheets of pastry (yufka) with various fillings.
So how do you know what’s what?
These are just a few of the most popular types of börek
Su böreği (water börek)- sheets of dough are boiled briefly in large pans, then a mixture of feta cheese and parsley (or in an alternative recipe minced meat, onions, tomato sauce) and oil is scattered between the layers. The whole thing is brushed with butter and laid in a masonry oven to cook.
Sigara böreği (cigar börek)– often served as a Meze or Breakfast dish. A small, cylindrical variety (shaped like a cigar hence the name) is often filled with feta cheese, potato, parsley and sometimes with minced meat or sausage.
Kol böreği – prepared in long rolls, traditionally filled with cheese, potatoes, spinach, or meat, and baked at a low temperature. They are named after their long arm-like appearance.
Çiğ böreği – deep-fried turnover with a filling of ground or minced meat and onions. It is made with a single round piece of dough folded over the filling in a crescent shape. Cheese fillings are also popular.
Most Turkish people buy börek to eat with an ayran (yoghurt drink) for a quick breakfast, or grab a box to add to the perfect picnic platter.
Börek is delicious warm with a side salad – a perfect lunch.
Pogača (Poh-a-cha) is a type of bread baked in the ashes of the fireplace, and later on in the oven.
Every place makes its own version or more than one variety, and so they come in all different textures and flavors. Some poğaça are only one inch around and one inch high; others are much larger.
Some have a crumbly scone-like consistency inside, while others are more tender like a fresh dinner roll or croissant.
It can be stuffed with potatoes, ground beef, or cheese, and have grains and herbs like sesame, black sesame, dried dill in the dough or sprinkled on top. Poğaça is sometimes served hot as an appetizer and/or bread.
Hot poğaça filled with beyaz peynir (white cheese) is particularly delicious.
“Buyrun” – “May I help you?”
Next time you can’t resist the pull of the bakery and you’re asked “buyrun” – “may I help you?” treat yourself to a pastry – or maybe two!
Sources: World Food Turkey