Cigarette Borek…

These long, thin boreks, called cigarette boreks, are made frequently in Turkish households (at least in my household, that was the case) or served at the restaurants as hot appetizers.I have learned that there has been a movement to change the name to “pencil” so that the borek is not associated with the smell of cigarette. However some things are hard for me to let go, this is what I called them since I can remember so they will stay as cigarette borek for me. But I can understand that “pencil” might sound more appetizing to some.

This borek is one of my guilty pleasures as well because it is fried. The yufka turns crispy and meant to be eaten as soon as it rests a bit on a paper towel to soak up the excess oil. You dont want it to get cold, they are no fun eating that way. At home, we made it by cutting 8 triangles out of one round Turkish phyllo dough (yufka). Stores have started selling already cut versions of triangle shaped yufkas and I can find these packages at our local Middle Eastern grocery store easily. If you will try to cut a full yufka into triangles and it has been frozen and thawed, beware that it might break on you, and you might not be able to get your full 8 triangles. (You can buy the prepackaged, precut ones here and here if your local Middle Eastern or Mediterranean store does not sell it.)

To make the borek, spread about 1.5 tablespoon of feta cheese/parley filling  (per triangle) along the long edge in a thin, long line, leaving 1/2 inch or so border on the bottom and on the edges. Then bring the right and left sides over the filling, then fold the bottom part over the filling, tuck it tightly and roll it up towards the pointy end (similar to grape leaves dish, shown here). Brush egg white inside of the pointy end so that it seals when the rolling is done. Heat some canola or vegetable oil in a pan (oil should be about 1.5 inches deep), fry them (in batches if necessary) until they are golden brown. Transfer them onto a platter that is lined with a paper towel.

Enjoy your afternoon with a crunchy borek  in one hand and a glass of tea in the other.


  1. by Tina
    5:44 pm
    Nov 18, 2012

    Looks so good. How do you make the filling? Where do you get the yufka in Charlotte?

  2. by Ilke
    5:56 pm
    Nov 18, 2012

    Filling is just the mixture of chopped Italian parsley ( a couple of tablespoons) and crumbled feta cheese. Depending on how many triangles you have, just calculate 1 to 1.5 tablespoon filling per triangle yufka.
    I go to Halal International on North Sharon Amity Road, off of Independence Blvd to buy Turkish items. Take Albemarle exit on Hwy 74 and turn left on N. Sharon Amity. It will be on your right after the turn. The store is located next to a shoe store.

  3. by Elaine
    7:02 pm
    Nov 18, 2012

    Oh, Ilke, I could just about cry. I remember these from my childhood when we lived in Ankara. When we came home, on rare occasions, my dad would make these for us but since he passed away, we haven’t had them because none of us knew how to make them. Thanks to you, I am going to surprise my sisters and make some this weekend! My sons are going to love sampling something that I have talked so much about but they have never tried.
    I love your blog because there is so much in it that I remember from living there even if it was a loooonnnngggg time ago.
    Thank you so much. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and coming holiday season.

  4. by Ilke
    9:11 pm
    Nov 18, 2012

    Thank you Elaine! Hope they like it and you guys can remember your good times in Ankara :) You have a great Thanksgiving.
    Thanks Charlene :) I appreciate it.

  5. by Charlene Kahn
    7:43 pm
    Nov 18, 2012

    Your photos of the foods make my mouth water — beautiful!

  6. by Angie@Angie's Recipes
    12:22 pm
    Nov 19, 2012

    These boreks look so inviting with that crusty wrap and feta filling!

  7. by Susan
    9:49 pm
    Nov 19, 2012

    Gorgeous photos, Ilke, and your ‘pencil’ borek (I like that name too) look delicious. Do you think the more readily available Greek style phyllo dough work?

  8. by Ilke
    10:25 pm
    Nov 19, 2012

    Susan, I dont know because I never tried with it. Single sheet would be really difficult to handle since it is so fragile and breaks very easily. Maybe with several layers. I just dont like working with those phyllo dough because it tears so easy. I have a half a package left from the cooking demo. I will give it a try this weekend and see how it turns out.

  9. by Mrs Ergül
    4:48 am
    Nov 21, 2012

    I can never ever get my hands on fresh yufka here. (Another reason why I want to live in Turkey) It is lighter than even filo. How I miss it. Our friend’s mother make some very yummy ones, cigarette-shaped for cheese and triangular for potato. I could eat a dozen of them!!!

    To be honest, I even bought some yufka home from our trip.

  10. by Ilke
    8:13 am
    Nov 21, 2012

    Yes, the yufka in Turkey is fresher and lighter than the frozen ones sold here. I miss being able to walk to the yufka store and get some fresh ones right before we make borek.

  11. by Christine
    11:58 am
    Aug 19, 2013

    These were the hit of my Turkish dinner party! I rolled (in the afternoon) and fried (à la minute) 75 and I only got to eat one! I could not find Yufka dough but at the local middle eastern grocery they directed me to the most appropriate phyllo dough and they actually had feta from Istanbul. Took me back to my times living in Adana and fights over who got the last borek on the plate :)

    The grocery did have vişne suyu (sour cherry juice) so I made a quick cocktail mixing that with prosecco and lemon slices, so lovely. I mixed it with club soda for my non-drinkers of the party. I remember my little girls drinking huge glasses of vişne suyu and inevitably spilling it on their clothes, those stains were there for good!

  12. by sema
    11:37 pm
    Jan 20, 2015

    I needed this recipe in English, thank you :) Just a note for visitors, some people use mashed potato with onions as a filling instead of cheese.

  13. by Ilke
    3:14 pm
    Jan 22, 2015

    That sounds like a good filling too, Sema, thanks!

  14. by Renee Daughtry
    12:37 pm
    Feb 12, 2015

    I miss Turkish food so much. We always love the borek and even the white rice tasted better in Turkey. Anyone know where to find Turkish food near Atlanta?

  15. by Ilke
    6:06 pm
    Feb 12, 2015

    Hi Renee, looks like there is Truva, Istanblue in Atlanta, I have not tried either. Let me know if you try and like it.


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