|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||12%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||11%|
|Total Carbohydrate 10g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
In Turkish cuisine, meze (meh-ZAY’) is a group of foods, both hot and cold, served as a series of appetizers or starters before the main course arrives. Hot meze features meats, seafood morsels, and cheeses, and dishes are often fried. A classic example of hot meze is called sigara böreği (see-GAR’-ah BUHR’-ay-ee). This dish is a good old standby at nearly every restaurant and home kitchen, and is loved by all.
In Turkish, "sigara" actually means "cigarette." These pastries of fresh yufka dough filled with Turkish white cheese, similar to feta, got their name due to their long, thin, rolled shape. You can serve sigara böreği as a starter, along with other meze dishes to complete your Turkish-style menu. They also are great make-ahead snacks for kids; you can fry up a batch during the day and have them ready for after-school munching. These cheese-filled pasties also work well as salty, crunchy finger food at parties. Try passing around a platter of freshly cooked pastries and watch them disappear.
1 (16-ounce) package frozen phyllo dough, or 4 fresh yufka sheets (24-inch diameter)
1/2 pound feta, or Turkish white cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
Dash of kosher salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
If you are using frozen phyllo, thaw it gently according to the package directions. Using 2 phyllo sheets, one on top of the other, arrange them so the short sides are the top and bottom.
Begin at the center of the top short side, cut diagonally down to the left bottom corner.
Starting again from the same center mark, cut diagonally down to the right bottom corner. This will give you 3 pastry triangles.
If you’re using round yufka sheets, use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut them into triangles. Divide each circle into 8 to 10 triangular slices like you are slicing a pizza. The wide base of each triangle should be about 4 to 5 inches wide.
In a small bowl, crumble the cheese with your fingers. Add the chopped parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Take a pastry triangle and position it so the wide end is at the bottom and the point is away from you. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the filling in a thin line near the bottom edge, leaving about 1/2 inch border on each side.
Before you begin rolling, fold the bottom right and left corners of the pastry toward the center to cover the edges of the filling. This will trap the filling inside as you roll up the pastry.
Using your fingers, gently roll the pastry away from you toward the point of the triangle. Try to tuck in any open edges as you go along.
When you get to the end, wet the inside of the point of the triangle with a little water and continue to roll. This will seal it to keep the roll closed as it fries.
Heat about 2 inches of oil to frying temperature (350 F to 365 F). Add several pastries to the pan leaving some space in between them to prevent them from sticking to each other.
Using prongs or a fork, move them around as they fry for a more even color. When the ends begin to brown, flip them over and let the other side cook. The pastries are done when they are golden brown all over with darker ends.
Drain the pastries on a thick layer of paper towels before serving.
What Are Meze?
You can usually expect two rounds of meze before a meal of meat or fish. Cold meze dishes, most often made with fresh, seasonal vegetables, are served first, followed by a round of hot meze selections. If you’re dining out, meze dishes are often so plentiful and delicious, they end up overshadowing the rest of the meal.
You can find yufka in Mediterranean grocers and on websites selling Turkish ingredients. If you have extra time and can afford some elbow grease, you can roll out your own yufka sheets.
Make Ahead Tips
- You can assemble the sigara böreği ahead of time and refrigerate, wrapped well, for one to two days before cooking.
- You can also freeze the uncooked pastries for up to two months. Place them in layers separated by waxed or parchment paper in an airtight container. Fry them directly from the freezer—there is no need to thaw before cooking.
You can experiment with different Turkish cheeses and other fillings like seasoned ground beef, Turkish pastrami, called pastırma (pah-STIR’-mah), and spicy beef sausage called sucuk (soo-JOOK’).