Hot, rolled savoury pastries from The Turkish Deli
In Britain, it was the infamous kids’ sweet, candy cigarettes, that had their name altered to reflect changing attitudes to smoking; in Turkey, it was the rolled burek, formerly known known as sigara. Quite what this says about the culinary history of these respective nations we’d rather not dwell on.
Suffice to say that given a choice between a chalky sugar stick and a roll of flaky pastry, lovingly layered by Graham Teale and Cimen, his Turkish wife, and served piping hot from their stall The Turkish Deli, we know which we’d go for. And it wouldn’t result in great cavities.
The only fillings bureks entail are edible ones; the only gold, the warm colour of the crusty filo pastry and, within its rolls, toasted goat’s cheese. “We have three varieties,” Graham explains. “Two traditional, one more western”—the halloumi, it turns out, when served in pastry is more a western concept. Sticklers for convention can choose between feta and parsley, or the pillowy comfort of hot potato melded with various herbs.
A mezze dish
Don’t be disillusioned by the amount of filling: it’s light because that’s “how it should be, not because we’re stingy. They are intended as accompaniments,” says Graham, “not entire meals. In Turkey they’re a mezze dish, or an afternoon snack to be enjoyed with a cup of tea” which is how we enjoy them, though our tea is irredeemably builders. You need to be quick off the eating though: “They’re not at their best once they get cold.”
Sink your teeth straight in, slowly peel off the papery filo pastry and each layer until you hit crumbly cheese, or immerse them in hummus—enjoy any way you like, in fact.