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1498 in Niš, Serbia

Burek Börek Byrek Būrek Burekas Бурек Byurek Boureki Gibanica

Recipe - told by Lilliana Grbic

Burek can almost be likened to a pie and it was introduced to Balkan during the Byzantine Empire's heydays. Filled pastries date back to prehistoric times and can be found throughout the world, in a different shape and forms, like samosas in India or empanadas on the Iberian peninsula. However, Burek is considered to  have its origins in the Turkish cuisine and is still a very popular dish in many Mediterranean countries. In Balkan, it is THE undoutable ruler of street foods.

There are myriad versions of burek with different fillings. Burek with sweet fillings is actually called pita and served as a snack or dessert. When you make your burek, you do not follow a precisely defined procedure, there are no rigorous rules you must follow. Every family in Balkan have their own way of making it at home.

According to the historic findings,the first burek cheese pastry was baked in Niš, It was created by a Turkish baker Mehmed Oglu in the summer of 1498. He baked burek according to regulations applied in the whole state of Turkey. The regulation stipulated the thickness of the crust and type of ingredients which had to satisfy the high criteria levels of quality.

Every year, in september, Niš hosts an annual burek competition and a festival called
Buregdžijada . This event is run since 2004, and the only of its kind in Serbia and surrounding countries. On “Burekdžijada” festival held next to the river Nišava, bakers from all around the Serbia, Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria are competing in the skills of burek making. The smallest and the biggest burek were made on “Burekdžijada” festival. Biggest one was 4 meter long and 2 metres wide and a smalles was baked in the beer bottle cap.

Every family in Balkan have their own recipe

Steps

1.

Melt the butter. Spread the melted butter all around the base and sides of a large metal tray (25cm x 35cm),

2.

Separate filo dough and pile it. Heat the oven to 180C / 350F

3.

Chop Feta and Mozarella and mince it. Shred semi/hard cheese. For cheddar and other sharp cheeses, make sure your cheese is cold. Take a big bowl and mix in it egg, salt & pepper and mineral water. Add cottage cheese, Feta and Mozarella. Add half of the shredded cheese. Mix it all together and check the consistency. Dilute if it is too thick.

4.

Cover the bottom of the tray with a couple of filo dough sheets. Spoon 1/6 of the cheese mixture and spread it evenly on top and to the edges over each layer. Repeat 5-6 layers. If you like your Burek with the less fillings (prazan) you can add more filo dough. Just brush it well with the mixture of melted butter, oliv oil of good quality and mineral water. When you just want to add filo dough, you don't need to keep neat layers. Just crumble it and spread evenly. Closing the burek, cover the last filo dough sheet with rest of the cheese mixture and top it with the other half of the shredded cheese.

5.

Bake it in the oven on 180C / 350F for 30 min until it gets a golden crust. Turn off the oven and leave it in for another 10 min to settle. Cut into portions and serve maybe with the very nice tomato sallad.

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