Sigara Börek is a traditional Turkish pastry featuring a savoury filling wrapped in filo dough and baked until browned and crispy.
Also known as Sigara Borek, the popular Turkish finger food is is rolled in the shape of a cigar or cigarette. We love serving them as a cutlery-free snack or appetizer dipped in a creamy yogurt, garlic and parsley sauce.
Our Turkish Filo Cigar Rolls are crispy and crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The interior features a creamy filling made of crumbled feta cheese, egg, scallions, fresh mint, and paprika.
Our homemade vegetarian Turkish Cheese Rolls are prepared by gently hand rolling filo pastry around a soft cheese and herb filling. Melted butter is brushed on top to ensure the phyllo browned and gets crunchy in the oven.
We love to double this recipe as leftovers can easily be enjoy the following morning at breakfast with scrambled eggs and a fresh salad.
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What Is Sigara Börek?
Börek is a family of stuffed Turkish pastries made of paper-thin dough. The pastry has Anatolian origins and is also common in the cuisines of the Balkans and Mediterranean.
The savory pastry can be prepared in a large pan and cut into pieces or prepared as individual pastries. It’s believed that borek originated in Turkey, however nowadays it can be found in many countries from Armenia to Bulgaria and Albania.
In Turkish “sigura” translates to “cigar” and “borek” is a type of pastry made with a thin dough. So Sigara Borek are Turkish pastries featuring a homemade filling that is wrapped in thin phyllo pastry in the shape of a cigar or cigarette.
Authentic borek is made with Turkish yufka dough, which is an extra thin dough. Filo or phyllo is even thinner than yufka but can be used as a substitute to make homemade borek.
The popular finger food requires no cutlery and are popular with both kids and adults so they’re always a big hit at parties.
Turks enjoy borek at any time of the day but especially at brunch, as a midday snack or as part of a mezze platter.
What Is Filo or Phyllo Made Of?
Filo or phyllo is a very thin unleavened dough used for making pastries such as baklava and börek in Turkish, Middle Eastern and Balkan cuisines. Filo-based pastries are made by layering many sheets of filo brushed with oil or butter; the pastry is then baked and has a distinct crunchy and crispy texture.
The origin of the practice of stretching raw dough into paper-thin sheets is unclear, with many cultures claiming credit. Some claim it derived from the Greeks; Homer’s Odyssey written in 800 B.C. mentions thin breads sweetened with walnuts and honey.
Others claim it originates with the Turks; in the 11th century author Mahmud Kashgari records the meaning of yurgha, an archaic term for yufka, as “pleated or folded bread”. Filo is also documented in the Topkapı Palace during the Ottoman period.
Filo is made from flour, water and a small amount of oil. A very big table is used, preferably with a marble top. If the dough is stretched by hand, a long, thin rolling pin is used, with a dusting of flour continually added between layers to prevent the sheets from sticking to one another.
If you want to see how traditional filo / phyllo pastry is made in Greece and Turkey watch this video. Thankfully factory-made filo pastry can be purchased at local grocery stores in the freezer section to save you lots of time in the kitchen!
Is Phyllo and Puff Pastry the Same?
Phyllo and puff pastry are not the same.
The main differences between puff pastry and phyllo dough are their fat content and preparation. Puff pastry is a laminated dough that gets its signature airy puff from layers of butter, while phyllo dough is comparatively low-fat.
Phyllo dough includes only flour, water, and a little oil. The fine sheets of pastry result in a crispy effect when layered and baked. When you brush phyllo dough with butter and stack it, the layers form a flaky crust essential for desserts like baklava or savoury cheese stuffed Turkish Cigars.
Travel to the Turkey By Making Sigara Börek at Home
I love traveling to the Middle East.
As a professional food and travel journalist, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy amazing meals in the Middle East, from authentic markets to award winning restaurants.
My fondest memories from Turkey always take place in the morning when the call to prayer whispers from a nearby mosque. I’d relax over brunch while sipping a tiny cup of Turkish coffee and forking through a breakfast plate piled high with Sigara Börek.
I even paid to visit some of Istanbul’s most famous restaurants to taste authentic cheese-filled Borek Cigars during a culinary walking tour of Istanbul.
Once back home from a Turkish holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Istanbul and can impress friends and family by making our easy Sigara Borek recipe!
Where To Eat Turkish Feta Cheese Filo Cigar Rolls
Haven’t traveled to Turkey before? It may be helpful to first taste vegetarian cheese-stuffed Turkish Filo Rolls at a local restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You’ll get an idea for the ideal size to roll each pastry, tastiest filling options and what dips to offer at the table.
In Toronto, popular Middle Eastern restaurants that may serve traditional crispy Turkish Feta Borek Cigars include Parallel, Byblos, Tabule, Fat Pasha, Maha’s, Masrawy Kitchen, Paramount Fine Foods, Anatolia, Barans, Meat Point, Sofra Istanbul and Pizza Pide.
My Family Loves Feta Cheese Sigara Borek
I love cooking Turkish food for my family.
After traveling from Istanbul to Bodrum as a professional food and travel writer I was excited to recreate my favourite savoury Sigara Börek at home.
I first made this Sigara Borek recipe on a warm summer evening at our family cottage in Muskoka. We had plenty of fresh mint and parsley to pluck in our backyard herb garden, which I stirred into the crumbled cheese mixture and added to the yogurt sauce.
Our authentic Sigara Börek recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Fresh mint is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can have a calming effect on the digestive system. It is also a good source of folate, which supports blood health.
An excellent source of vitamin K, as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron, parsley helps keep your bones and blood healthy, and protects your skin from damage by free radicals.
Paprika is rich in vitamin A, capsaicin, and carotenoid antioxidants. These substances may help prevent inflammation and improve your cholesterol, eye health and blood sugar levels.
Packed with calcium and friendly probiotic bacteria, sour cream and yogurt help keep your bones strong and your gut healthy. Yogurt may also help reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes and some types of cancer.
Sigara Börek Recipe Cooking Tips
This delicious Sigara Börek recipe is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips for novice cooks.
- You can make homemade yufka dough or purchase store bought filo or phyllo pastry in the freezer aisle of your grocery store.
- We’ve used fresh mint and parsley in this recipe but you could get creative by using a mixture of other tender herbs like dill, basil and chives.
- We prefer to use crumbled feta made with cow’s milk but you can substitue for goat or sheep’s milk feta if you prefer.
- We’ve used sweet paprika in this recipe but you could substitute for smoked paprika or ground cumin.
- Use plain yogurt instead of thick Greek-style yogurt for the sauce so it’s easy to dip.
- The dip is flavoured with fresh parsley and garlic but you can also add a spritz of lemon or add in 1/2 tsp of lemon zest.
- For a dramatic presentation brush the filo cigars with butter and sprinkle with black or white sesame seeds before baking.
What To Serve With Crispy Turkish Cheese Cigar Rolls
The dish is very versatile. The crispy cheese-filled filo pastries can be enjoyed on their own or dipped in yogurt sauce as an easy party snack or appetizer. For a more substantial lunch or dinner serve with a fresh salad or soup or as part of an attractive mezze platter.
We love to make Turkish Cheese Cigar Rolls for dinner and intentionally make extra so we can reheat leftovers for brunch the following morning. The cheesy filo cigars pair well with a hot mug of coffee, scrambled eggs, plump olives and bulgur salad.
If you’re hosting a Turkish-themed dinner party you might also like to serve Sigara Borek with:
- Turkish Pogaca Feta and Dill Bread Rolls
- Mucver Tarif Vegetarian Turkish Zucchini Fritters
- Mihlama Kuymak Turkish Melted Cheese and Cornmeal
- Vegan Spicy Turkish Salsa Ezme Salata Salad
- Kisir Turkish Bulgur Salad
- Peynirli Pide Cheesy Chorizo Turkish Pizza
- Kiymali Pide Spiced Minced Meat Turkish Pizza
- Turkish Mint Yogurt Corbasi Soup
- Turkish Pogaca Feta and Dill Bread Rolls
You May Also Enjoy These Cheese Recipes…
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- Culurgiones Sardinian Cheese & Potato Stuffed Pasta
- Involtini di Pollo with Prosciutto, Pine Nuts, & Cheese
- Leeks in Cheese Sauce
- Old School Cheese and Onion Pie
- Crispy Gruyere Grilled Cheese
- Mexican Queso Velveeta Cheese Dip
- Cheesy Vegetarian Cabbage with Rice
- Arugula Fig Burrata and Prosciutto Salad
- Creamy Saffron Tagliatelle Pasta with Ricotta and Mint
- Älplermagronen Cheesy Swiss Alpine Macaroni
How To Make Sigara Börek Turkish Filo Cheese Rolls
Sigara Borek Crispy Turkish Cheese Rolls
- Pastry brush
- mixing bowl
- Spatula or Wooden Spoon
- French knife
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- baking sheet
- 7 oz Feta
- 1 Egg beaten
- 2 Scallions chopped
- 4 tbsp Mint chopped
- 1/4 tsp Paprika
- 4 sheets Fillo
- 4 tbsp Melted Butter
- 3/4 cups Plain Yogurt
- 1 Garlic Clove minced
- Pinch Kosher Salt
- 1/4 tsp Parsley chopped
- For the dipping sauce, in a medium bowl whisk together the ingredients. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
- For the filling, mash the feta cheese with a fork and mix with the eggs, scallions, mint and paprika.
- Take out the sheets of fillo only when you are ready to use them, as they dry out. Cut the sheets into 4 rectangles each, about 12 by 4 inches, and put them in a pile on top of each other. Brush the top strip lightly with oil or melted butter.
- Take a heaping teaspoon of filling and place it as one of the 4-inch or shortest ends of the strip in a thin sausage shape along the edge, about 1-inch from it and 1 inch from the side edges. Roll up the top sheet with the filling inside like a cigar. Turn the ends in when you've rolled it about a third of the way to trap the filling, then continue to roll. Repeat with the remaining fillo sheets.
- Place the cigars close to each other on a greased baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter and bake for 350 F for 30 minutes, or until golden and crispy.
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