A reader asks: Where can I get a Turkish burek? Not the little finger-shaped sigara bureka, but the kind my relatives in Turkey made — little triangular ones made with filo dough.
Dear reader: That’s a good question. Throughout the Balkans, the Middle East, and parts of the Soviet Union — places where the Ottoman Empire extended its influence, reaching its peak in the 16th and 17th centuries — the filo pie called the burek is popular.
In the Balkans, it’s usually configured like a spare tire, stuffed with cheese, meat, or spinach, and one pie serves four. In Turkey itself, the sleek cheese- or potato-stuffed sigara (“cigar”) bureka is the most popular configuration. But in Russia and the Middle East, the triangular pie or other shape of handheld pie you mention still holds sway, stuffed with vegetables like spinach or eggplant, often with feta-like cheese added.
You don’t say where you live, or how far you’d travel to get one, but here are my suggestions:
I recently saw them at Café Petisco (189 East Broadway, 212-387-0366) on the Lower East Side, though I haven’t eaten there yet, so I don’t know how good they are.
At Gazala Place (709 Ninth Avenue, 212-245-0709) in Hell’s Kitchen, a Druze-Israeli café, they make a wonderful bureka out of flaky filo in a knotted configuration, yet of about the same size you requested. They come with a choice of fillings that run to feta, feta and spinach, or feta and sun-dried tomatoes, the latter a modern day whim of the chef and quite good.
Serbian restaurant Kafana (116 Avenue C, 212-353-8000) in the East Village also makes handheld bureks in various configurations, sometimes including the one you seek.
Ukus (42-08 30th Avenue, Queens, 718-267-8587), a Bosnian restaurant in Astoria, serves up a novel, coil-shaped burek stuffed with either lamb or the very unusual cabbage.
Speaking of novel, Tony & Tina’s Pizza (2483 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, 718-733-8094) in the Belmont section of the Bronx serves up a spare-tire-type burek with an exceedingly flaky pastry stuffed with pumpkin. Happy Halloween!