Sigara boregi literally translates to ‘cigarette pastry’, a shape common in Turkey and filled with either sweet or savory mixtures. The cigarette shape is familiar to me as I have made egg rolls, lumpia, and spring rolls all of which are a variation on the cigarette shape but using different types of wrappers. For this recipe, I used phyllo dough and I am thrilled with how the pastries turned out.
The dough used to make these pastries can vary from a traditional yufka to phyllo or puff pastry. Yufka (somewhat thicker than phyllo) can be hard to located in the United States so I opted to use phyllo. While some people swear by phyllo, others tend to swear *at it*. Phyllo sheets are thin and can be temperamental, especially if you are not prone to having a gentle touch.
I based this recipe on one found in a Turkish cookbook which used a meat filling in a tepsi (a deep tray-shaped pan). In the original recipe, you layer the pan with phyllo and the meat filling to create a sort of pie. It seemed easy enough but I really wanted to try using the filling for individual sized pastries. I have a strange fetish for serving-sized foods. If I could eat finger food for every meal, I would be more than happy.
Sigara Boregi With Minced Meat
adapted from Layered Minced Meat and Pine Nut Pie, The Food and Cooking of Turkey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons milk
1 lb phyllo sheets (about 18)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until onion begins to soften, then add minced garlic and pine nuts. Saute for an additional 1-2 minutes or until pine nuts begin to turn golden.
Add ground beef to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes, then add cinnamon, oregano and parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil and milk. This mix will be slightly thick and will be used to moisten the phyllo dough.
Take a sheet of phyllo dough and lay it out on a flat surface with the longest side facing you. Keep the remaining phyllo covered with a moist towel until ready to use. Lightly brush the left half of the phyllo with the egg mixture. Gently lift the right side of the phyllo and fold it over the left side. The phyllo dough will now to half the size of when you started and you will now have the shortest side facing you.
Brush the top of the phyllo with the egg mixture. Take 1/4 cup of the beef mixture (make sure it has cooled) and place it 2 inches in from the nearest edge of the phyllo and leave 2 inches of spaces on either side of the meat. The meat mixture is placed nearest to you as you will begin rolling it away from you. Don’t worry if some of the phyllo sheets have small tears in them. My package had a few damaged pieces and they worked just fine.
Fold in each of the long sides by 2 inches. Beginning at the edge closest to you, fold the narrow end over the meat mixture. Continue rolling the dough away from you as you form a cigarette shaped roll. When you are nearing the end, brush the final 2 inches with the egg mixture. Fold the roll over this final bit of dough to seal it. Place seam side down on a baking sheet.
Next time I will remember to take a photograph of these rolling steps. As I’m writing it, I realize how hard it is to convey the rolling technique. Surprisingly, it’s quite easy to do.
Before baking, brush the tops and sides of each roll with more of the egg mixture. Sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
The sigara boregi turned out beautifully. I loved the shape and color, especially the decoration of sesame seeds on top. Remember to let them cool before biting into one … it’s difficult to wait, but you risk burning your mouth otherwise. I always learn the hard way :-)
My only complaint is that the mixture is a little too meaty for me. I like the combination of spices but wanted something sweet to compliment the meat and give it a contrasting flavor. I might try bits of diced dried apricots or raisins as I think the sweetness would work well.
Minced meat is only one of many possible fillings for these pastries including feta, potatoes or other vegetables so let your imaginations run wild!
UPDATE 9/30/08: Kat from A Good Appetite made this recipe and also created a Chicken version with golden raisins. She also provides photos showing how to roll the phyllo cigars which is helpful. They look and sound wonderful!