The last day I was in Istanbul, my host let me help her make Sigara böreği. Here’s my attempt to document what we did so I can remember for the future.
3 bunches of fresh spinach (with large leaves) from the farmers market were washed thoroughly in several changes of water. She had 2 salad spinners going at once.
In a skillet, 1 minced medium/large white onion was softened in a generous glug of olive oil. Once it was soft, she peeled and shredded in 2 smaller potatoes (all that she had on hand, perhaps more would have been used if she had it) (large holes on a box grater). Stir stir stir. Cook Cook Cook.
And then the cleaned and roughly chopped spinach went in. And we cooked it until is was a soft and homogeneous mixture.
Season with black pepper and salt.
Then the heat was turned off, and it was set aside to prepare the wrappers.
Was not made with phyllo dough! She hod bought freshly made circles of thin dough from the local market. Yufka! Which I just found at a market in this city, which is why I am now thinking about making them on my own.
So she spread out this 2″ round of dough in a single layer on the counter (and kept the rest covered lest it dry out).
And she mixed together yogurt, eggs, and olive oil until it had a soupy texture (and she added ingredients as needed to get the right consistency).
Spread a thin-ish layer of the egg mixture over the yukfa. Fold the yukfa in half, so you now have a semi-circle. Slice the semicircle into 6-8 (I forget which) long triangle wedges.
Spoon 1-2 Tablespoons of the spinach filling on the wide part of the triangle. Tuck in the corners and roll the dough around the filling. If it seems dry, feel free to add more of the egg mixture to seal, but it shouldn’t be wet either.
Lay your finished cigars on a lined baking sheet. They can now sit overnight in the refrigerator (I don’t remember if this is just okay or preferred).
When ready, bake at 425F for 15-20 minutes.
Things that are missing from this recipe
She also had white cheese (like feta) that went into this dish. Was it mixed into the spinach once it had cooled? Or was it in the egg mixture? I don’t remember.
Were there any herbs in the spinach mixture? A bit of parsley wouldn’t hurt.
Other similar recipes online
vegan -> http://www.messyvegetariancook.com/2010/05/19/vegan-spinach-borek/
ETA: Okay – so I’ve made it now and can answer all the questions I had before!
First – this is not a crispy version. This dough looks terrifyingly designed to be crispy. I was sure that everything was ruined because I only had storebought Yufka instead of getting a fresh batch from a local market. Everything turned out fine.
Second – Yes, add the cheese to the filling once it has cooled. I ended up using a mixture of peccorino romano and sheep milk beyaz peynir. Whatever brined white cheese should be tasty. Also, I was worried about the saltiness of my cheese, so I was moderate about the salt in the filling. But, really, it could have used more salt.
Third – resting time is important! The first batch I cooked was the last batch I made, and it ended up releasing a puddle of oil that made the rolls soggy. I was resigned to finding them tasty anyway. But the second batch, which had been sitting long enough for the dough to fully hydrate and the tops (brushed with more of the egg/yogurt/oil mixture) to get a little tacky, didn’t lose any liquid and came out fairly similar to the ones I’d had in Istanbul. And the tops turned lovely golden and brown.
Cooking time – 425F for 20 minutes.