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30 August 2016

Bourekas ~ Hebrew: בורקס



In Israel, bourekas (Hebrew: בורקס) became popular as immigrants who settled there cooked the cuisine of their native countries. Bourekas can be found made from either filo dough or puff pastry filled with various fillings. Among the most popular fillings are salty cheese, mashed potato, mushrooms, chickpeas, olives, spinach, eggplant/aubergine and pizza flavour.  Most bourekas in Israel are made with margarine-based dough rather than butter-based dough so that (at least the non-cheese filled varieties) can be eaten along with either milk meals or meat meals in accordance with the kosher prohibition against mixing milk and meat at the same meal. 

Israeli bourekas come in several shapes and are often sprinkled with seeds. The shapes and choice of seeds are usually indicative of their fillings and have become fairly standard among small bakeries and large factories alike.  For example, salty cheese Bulgarian cheese-filled as well as Tzfat cheese (from the city of Safed) with Za'atar-filled bourekas are usually somewhat flat triangles with white sesame seeds on top.  Less salty cheese-filled are semi-circular and usually made with puff pastry. Potato-filled are sesame topped, flat squares or rectangles made with filo and tend to be less oily than most other versions. Mushroom-filled are bulging triangles with poppy seeds. Tuna-filled are bulging triangles with Nigella seeds. Eggplant/aubergine-filled are cylindrical with Nigella seeds. Bean sprout-filled are cylindrical without seeds. Spinach-filled are either cylindrical with sesame seeds or made with a very delicate, oily filo dough shaped into round spirals. Bourekas with a pizza sauce are often round spirals rising toward the middle or sometimes cylindrical without seeds, differentiated from the bean sprout-filled cylinders without seeds by the red sauce oozing out the ends.  Bourekas can also be found with mashed chickpeas, tuna and chickpea mix, pumpkin and even small cocktail sized frankfurters. Another variation filled with meat (beef, chicken or lamb), pine nuts, parsley and spices are eaten mainly as a main dish but sometimes as a starter/meze. 

Bourekas come in small, "snack" size, often available in self-service bakeries, and sizes as large as four or five inches. The larger ones can serve as a snack or a meal, and can be sliced open, and stuffed with hard-boiled egg, pickles, tomatoes and skhug, a spicy Yemenite paste. Supermarkets stock a wide selection of frozen raw-dough bourekas ready for home baking. Bakeries and street vendors dealing exclusively in bourekas can be found in most Israeli cities.

 Meat bourekas are made from lamb, beef or chicken mixed with onion, parsley, coriander, or mint, pine nuts and spices.
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