How to make Burek

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Last year, as part of our Discover the Balkans tour, we visited beautiful Bosnia and the historic city of Sarajevo, and aside from the historical aspects of the city, we were keen to experience its vibrant food culture.

After dark, the Old Bazaar comes to life with local families, groups of friends and tourists all visiting the abundant street sellers and cosy little restaurants which line the streets, all selling a whole host of delicious treats. The thing we really wanted to try though was Bosnian Burek, which we’d read about online before embarking on this journey.

So, what is Burek? Aside from being totally scrumptious, Burek is a thin, spiral pastry and can be found throughout countries of the former Ottoman empire, including Bosnia and Herzegovina. There are many different fillings for Burek, however, my favourite is this tasty Bosnian version, filled with meat and sometimes potatoes too.

We purchased our Burek from a small café and choose to eat it soaking up the evening atmosphere, sitting on the steps of the Ottoman style Sebilj in the centre of Baščaršija square, the real heart of Old Sarajevo.

Creating Burek at home is very easy, all ingredients are readily available and whilst I’ve mainly made filo pastry from scratch, I really don’t think it’s necessary as shop bought is equally as good, though for a real authentic snack you can try making your own filo. You may find it a bit tricky when it comes to assembling it all together as the pastry can be very awkward to work with.

Ingredients:

500g beef mince

1 onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons of fresh parsley, finely chopped

½ tablespoon of salt

3 tablespoons of oil

½ teaspoon of fresh ground pepper

1 tablespoon of paprika powder

1 pack of filo pastry (200g)

50g butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup of natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 190°C. Fry finely chopped onion in the olive oil until soft and transparent, add minced garlic and keep stirring it for another 2 minutes. Don’t let the garlic burn as it becomes bitter.
  2. Add beef mince and brown it, add salt, pepper and paprika powder. The mince will release quite a bit of liquid so keep frying it until the water evaporates, we don’t want it in our pastry. Fry it until you’ll see orange colored oil separating from the mince we don’t want that either, should take approx. 8 min. Strain the mince and get rid of the fat, leave it aside to cool a little.
  3. Now the filo pastry. You must work quite quick as the filo pastry goes dry very quickly, dryness makes it crack so open the package when you’re ready do work with it. Firstly make sure your butter is already melted and stays melted until you finish the next step. Find a long surface to work on, put one sheet of pastry, overlap the second sheet over the first one and third one over the second one. Repeat it 2 or 3 times, depends on how many filo pastry sheets you get in your package, I had 12 sheets and that would make 4 layers. You can also make it 3 layers 4 sheets long which would be even more impressive.
  4. Brush the pastry with melted butter and put the mince mix along the long edge. Roll the pastry into a long tube and start to rolling it into a spiral shape. Transfer it onto baking dish (I used a sandwich cake tin), brush it with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes. Serve with dollop of natural yoghurt.

Have you tried making this at home? Let us know on Facebook how it went.

If you have any suggestions or requests for Tom to write up some recipes for amazing dishes or meals that you had while you were on one of our tours, please drop us a line and we’ll add them to our list.

However, if you’d like to eat the real thing, have a look at our Bosnia and Herzegovina tours and go and try it for yourself!

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