Beki’s Borekitas and Grandma Rozanes’ Recipe
We visited Beki in her Istanbul home one day in late spring, having heard of her renown in Istanbul’s Jewish community. With all the migrations that have taken place over the last decade, many women of her generation have children who have been educated and now reside in other countries, whether those be relatively close, such as other places in Europe or Israel, or as far afield as the US and Canada, Australia and South Africa. Having grown up with Borekitas, it is the one food they still crave, and Beki found a way to send it to them using overnight shipping and dry ice.
On that spring morning, she generously invited us to join her in making the next batch of borekitas (of 50). While this may seem like an extravagant number, as long as you are making effort, why not have some for the freezer too? Then, Selin dug into her own family archive and found a more manageable amount, from none other than her own grandmother. This batch makes between 24 and 27.
For the dough:
½ cup of water
1 cup oil
1 T vinegar
3 ½-4 ½ cups / 300-350 gr flour
1 t salt
- Heat the water a large pan, and when it comes to a boil, slowly add the oil until the mixture begins to make blurping sounds. Transfer to a bowl, let it cool down and then add the vinegar and the salt. Then, cup by cup begin to incorporate the flour punching down the dough after each batch of flour. Allow the wet dough to slide between your fingers and knead until well incorporated. According to Beki, you will know when it’s done when the dough feels like your earlobe.
- Cover with a tea towel and let rest for at least 15 minutes.
For the eggplant filling:
1/2 lb feta cheese
1 cup of a sharp cheese such as manchego or gruyere
- Char the eggplants as described on P…..
- Set to drain in a colander over the sink and when cool enough, remove skins and mash eggplant flesh until you have an even puree.( My aunt told me the eggplant flesh has to be very well drained) After draining she puts the eggplant flesh in a pan and cooks until flesh completely dry)
- Crumble the feta into the cooled eggplant mixture and then add the grated cheese. Using your fingers or a potato masher, incorporate the cheese well until they are very well mixed.
For the potato filling:
1 large or 2 small potatoes, cooked until soft and peeled
7 oz feta cheese
½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or parmesan
fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill and mint, as desired
- Cut the cooked potatoes and place them in a large bowl.
- Crumble in the feta cheese and then the other cheeses.
- Beat 1 egg and 1 egg yolk only and add to mixture.
For the topping:
1 egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon milk
½ cup parmesan, finely grated
sesame and nigella seeds
To make the borekitas:
- Take a walnut size piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Do this with about 20 balls and set them on the table.
- Take one ball and place it into your left hand. With your right hand, pat it down and smooth it out; then set it on a board. Using a small rolling pin, or your hand, roll it out thinly and then use a glass to cut an even circle. ( diameter of circle to be app 3 inches.
- Place a tablespoon of the eggplant (or potato, or cheese, or spinach, or winter squash) mixture onto one side of the dough circle and fold the dough over itself to close it.
- To seal the little packet, you have three choices: one is to crimp them with a fork (that’s the easier way); the other is to fold the bottom over the top and then make a little “hem” by shaping the dough into a little coil. The third is to purchase a fluted pastry roller and make a decorated edge.
- Set all the half-circles onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or silicon. Beat the egg yolks with the milk and then paint each borekita with the yolk mixture. Top with finely grated parmesan or sesame and nigella seeds and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.
Beki getting ready to work (Selin in background)
Making the borekitas
Selin’s borekitas from Grandma Rozanes’ recipe
Finally, if you want to practice your Ladino, here is a recipe from the University of Washington, Sephardic Studies website.
Rachel Shemarya’s Boreka de patata
Una patata grande,
mandala, azela pedasos, tapala di agua, metila a escaldar.
Cuando ya si escaldo, kitala dila agua, azila mash.
Echa L cucharica sal, L bekin pader, un pizico marcharin
1 guevo batido
Mineala todo juntos e gusta si esta bueno di sal e di kezo si es ke si keri mas echa ke si aga savorido
disha la patata