Turkish-Cypriot Cuisine
North Cyprus  

Poultry based dishes
Tavuklu Börek (Chicken pies)
Tavuklu Börek (Chicken pies)Börek are the cornerstone of Turkish cuisine: they are intricate little parcels, filled with delight. Turkish women pride themselves on the small size of these exquisite mezze, even if it requires hours of devotion to make them. Börek are always present at every celebration and the event would not have enough glitter without their enticing, bulgy presence. 

There are a multitude of different fillings, according to the season and the occasion. The pastry used to wrap them also varies, from the paper-thin fillo pastry found in the cities to permutations of homemade puff pastry, or a simple, homemade substitute for fillo.

Fillo pastry freezes well and it will keep frozen for up to 3 months. Let it defrost for a couple of hours at room temperature before it is to be used. When bought fresh, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Once it is unwrapped, work swiftly, as it soon dries out and becomes brittle. If not familiar with fillo, cover the bulk of it with a slightly damp tea towel while using it and take your time.

   Preparation time
  • 1 hour + 20 minutes baking
  • Gas Mark 4 / 180 C / 350 F
  • Makes 25 
  For filling 
  • 375 g (12 oz) cooked chicken breast fillets
  • 25 g (1 oz) butter
  • 25 g (1 oz) plain flour
  • 150 ml (1/4 pint) hot milk
  • 4 tablespoons hot chicken stock
  • 50 g (2 oz) parmesan, or Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten lightly
  • A pinch each of ground nutmeg and salt
  To make up the Börek
  • 8-10 sheets of fillo pastry (or milföy hamuru in Turkish)
  • 75 g (3 oz) butter, melted
  • oil for greasing
  Preheat the oven. If you are using cooked chicken, just cut it into peanut-sized pieces. If you are using chicken fillets, first simmer them in hot water for 6-8 minutes and then take them out and chop them roughly to the same size. Melt the butter, add the flour and stir over a low heat until well mixed into a roux. withdraw the pan from the heat and add the hot milk and chicken stock gradually, stirring; return the pan to a gentle heat and whisk the sauce until it boils and thickens enough, which should take 5-6 minutes. Add the cheese and the seasonings and mix well. Away from the heat, add the beaten egg slowly, stirring, and then the chicken pieces. It should be fairly thick in order to be used successfully in the börek.

Next, cut the whole stack of fillo pastry into four long strips, about  8 cm (3 inches) wide. Brush each sheet with melted butter, place a teaspoon of filling in one corner and fold them over making little triangles. Place these on an oiled baking sheet, with the loose end of the pastry underneath, brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 20 minutes or until golden crisp and light golden. Alternatively, you could use puff pastry, which is available freshly made or frozen. Defrost if needed and cut walnut-sized pieces off the pastry. Roll them out thinly in small circles of about 10 cm (4 inches) diameter, place a teaspoon of filling in the centre, fold the pastry over and press the edges together, making a semi-circular shape. Brush the tops with beaten egg, and bake as before for about 20 minutes or until light golden.

  • Vegetarian dishes have been marked with sign
  • Albrecht, M. (1994), Turkish Cypriot and Mediterranean Cookery, Havellia Publishing, London.
  • Salaman, R., (1991), The Cooking of Greece and Turkey, Sainsbury Cookbooks, London.
  • Jemal, H., Cyprus Today, various.

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