Borek is a family of pastries or pies found in the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia. The pastry is made of a thin flaky dough such as filo with a variety of fillings, such as meat, cheese, spinach, or potatoes.
In this instance it is filled with ground spiced lamb in tomato sauce with onion garlic, cumin, coriander, Aleppo pepper, allspice, cinnamon and paprika, pine nuts and currants. This version is served with a turmeric garlic yogurt dipping sauce.
I pretty much love anything in filo dough, and this combo of rich, savory lamb with a hint of sweetness from the currents and the creamy, tart dipping sauce was delicious. This dish looks impressive but it is actually pretty easy to make using frozen filo dough.
One note, the recipe called for brushing the layers of filo with a mix of egg, butter and yogurt, but I found this difficult to spread on the paper thin filo and I think you’d be better off using the more typical method of brushing with just melted butter. I will do that next time I make this. I served this with a nice mix of roasted vegetables that cooked in the oven while the borek was cooking.
For the filling:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp Aleppo chili flakes or 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup currants
- 1/3 cup pine nuts toasted
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1/4 cup water
For the dough:
- 1 package frozen filo defrosted overnight in the fridge
- 1/4 cup melted butter unsalted
- raw sesame seeds
For the sauce:
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tsp lemon juice more to taste
- 1 clove garlic minced
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
For the filling:
- Heat oil over medium heat in a skillet and add the garlic and onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the lamb and the spices and salt and cook, breaking up the chunks, until it is cooked through. Add the tomato sauce and water and stir. Reduce heat and simmer until most of the liquid is gone and you have a thick mixture. Add the currents and pine nuts. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Allow to cool a bit while you prepare the sauce and dough.
For the sauce:
- Combine ingredients, mix well, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
- Heat the oven to 400 and brush a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet with melted butter. Have your filo ready and a damp towel to cover the sheets you aren't using. Lay one sheet on a piece of parchment and brush with melted butter. You don't need to saturate it, just cover some of it lightly. Lay another sheet on top and repeat. Do this until you have 4 sheets, but don't brush the final one with butter. Use 1/4 of the filling to make a line along the longer edge of the dough. Gently roll up into a long rope. Coil the rope in the center of the skillet.
- Repeat this 3 more times until you have made 3-4 ropes and coiled them in the pan. Brush the top with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place in the oven and bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes then cut into wedges and serve with the sauce.