How To Make Sigara Böreği (Turkish Cheese Rolls)

On returning home, most people who visit Turkey on holiday leave the country with memories of those delicious cheese rolls they ate nearly every evening with their meze dishes. Those delicious ‘Turkish cheese rolls’ that they always talk about are called sigara böreği and are probably the most well known of all the Turkish börek recipes. They’re probably so well known because sigara are the most likely börek to feature in a meze fridge in restaurants; and they often crop up on the Turkish breakfast table, too.

Along with the almost obligatory Antep Ezmesi, ‘Turkish cheese rolls’ are right up there for number of ‘Turkish foodie mentions’ by our friends.

An Early Experiment

Sigara Börek Recipe

Making cheese rolls is therapeutic

On mastering the Turkish green beans in olive oil recipe back in England, sigara böreği is also the first Turkish food I ever attempted to make when we finally moved to Fethiye – so, for us, sigara böreği is special for that reason. I associate them with our ‘we-must-settle-into-our-new-life-in-Turkey’ period. These days, I make sigara böreği if we have friends round for a barbecue. They make perfect nibbles while we wait for the barbecue to heat up – and all of our friends absolutely love them!

Play Around With Fillings

I also play about with fillings quite a lot so some of my sigara are not quite so traditional. But that’s okay, too, because, these days, lots of the restaurants in Fethiye are starting to play about with fillings, too. And, why not? As long as we all know and love the traditional fillings for Turkish cheese rolls, why not experiment, as well? Isn’t that how cuisines grow and evolve?

Sigara Böreği – A Recipe For Turkish Cheese Rolls

For the cheese filling:

So that leads us nicely onto our filling for our cheese rolls recipe. For sigara böreği, the traditional filling is Lor cheese, a crumbled mild white cheese. If you are outside of Turkey, or you can’t get Lor, feta cheese can be used as a substitute. We also use finely chopped parsley and a beaten egg, too. Okay, so you know the traditional filling now. For our sigara böreği recipe, however, if we have friends over to visit, we like to add a few extras to our filling.

Turkish Cheese Rolls Filling

A slightly untraditional cheese mixture for sigara böreği

The Not So Traditional Ingredients

It’s a mix of reactions from Turkish friends; some of them bite into our sigara böreği and then a smile appears on their faces. “Ohhh, have you put onion in this?”

Other Turkish friends will bite into the sigara and look unsure. “Hmmm, have you put onion in this?”

Food leads to discussion, as it should! We love a foodie discussion, and we love playing with recipes…just as long as we know the traditional recipe, too. So our sigara böreği has the Lor cheese (many people know it as börek peynir in Turkey so you might see it labelled as that in Turkish supermarkets), it has the chopped parsley, it has the beaten egg mixture. And then we love to add some very finely chopped red onion for colour, texture and flavour. We also add some very finely chopped red pepper for the same reasons. And then, of course, a bit of fresh chilli, too.

For The Börek Cases – The Yufka:

Sigara böreği is a börek dish. It’s rolls of yufka , which, if you can’t get hold of yufka, can be substituted with phyllo pastry. If you’re in Turkey, though, or you live in an area where someone is making yufka, use the freshest daily yufka as it’s much easier to work with. It’s delicate, yet forgiving, and almost therapeutic to work with if you handle it confidently.

Turkish Food - Yufka

Preparation of fresh yufka sheets and egg

If the yufka isn’t fresh, or even if it’s vacuum-packed, it will break up whilst you’re trying to roll it. It might even stick together and tear as you try to prise the sheets apart. We’re writing this from personal experience and it’s enough to put you off working with yufka for good. In Turkey, go to your local yufkacı and buy the sheets fresh. You’ll fall in love with the stuff!

Yufka Triangles

As you will have seen in our other börek recipes (such as our paçanga böreği recipe), yufka is sold in huge circular sheets, around 60cm in diameter. For our cheese rolls, we need to make triangles for each sigara. This is really easy.

  • As you can see in the diagram above, we’re just going to fold a yufka sheet in half.
  • With the straight edge facing away from us, we’re going to start about 4 inches in from the left and cut diagonally towards the bottom left corner.
  • Then we go back up the that top starting pointing and cut diagonally towards the right bottom, giving us an approximate 4-inch curved base of our triangle.
  • From that bottom bottom point, we go back up towards the right, aiming again for an approximate 4-inch triangle base at the top. And so on.

Aim to get around 4-5 diagonals so that you get roughly 5-6 triangles. Open them out and you will have 10-12 triangles from your sheet. You’ll have to cut some in half where your fold was. Whilst you roll each sigara, cover the rest of your triangles with a plastic bag or clean, damp cloth to prevent them drying out.

Rolling Your Sigara Börek

In Turkish ‘sigara’ means cigarette. A cheese roll resembles a short fat cigar in shape, hence its name, ‘cigarette pastry.’ There have been suggestions of late that it ought to be called kalem böreği (pen/pencil pastry) but whether this will catch on or not, who knows. Some börekçi places have started to use the term. In seaside resorts, you’re more likely to see ‘cheese rolls’ on your menu, anyway.

Rolling Sigara Börek

Rolling your sigara

And creating your cheese rolls is easy…

  • On a large, flat surface, you place your first triangle of yufka, pointed end away from you. We add a heaped teaspoonful of börek cheese filling to the wide end and spread it into a thin line, leaving a small gap either side.
  • Then we brush the yufka with egg and start to roll.
  • As with paçanga böreği, we fold the flat end over the top of the cheese, fold in the edges and brush the pointed end with egg mixture.
  • Now it’s just a case of continuing to roll upwards until you get to the top.

That’s The First Sigara Böreği (Cheese Roll) Done

Turkish Food - Sigara Börek

Keep rolling till you run out of yufka or filling

We need to keep going now, creating each sigara böreği until we’ve used up our yufka and cheese filling. 3 sheets of yufka with 300 grams of börek cheese will make roughly 30 individual sigara. It depends how many triangles you make from each sheet and how much filling you want in each of your cheese rolls.

How To Make Sigara Böreği

Sigara Böreği (Turkish Cheese Rolls) Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Börek
Cuisine: Turkish
Serves: 30
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Sigara böreği - also known on many Turkish menus as 'cheese rolls' - make a great addition to the meze table as well as the traditional Turkish breakfast table. Make this famous börek when you have friends for dinner and they are guaranteed to be impressed.
Ingredients
For The Börek Cases
  • 3 sheets fresh yufka (or the equivalent in phyllo pastry)
  • 1 egg beaten together with a splash of milk
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying

For The Börek Cheese Filling
  • 300g börek cheese (crumbled feta cheese can be a substitute)
  • 1 medium sized red onion, very finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum pepper, deseeded and very finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ bunch flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
Instructions
For The Börek Cases
  1. On a hard, flat surface, take one sheet of yufka and fold it in half.
  2. Have the straight flat side facing away from you.
  3. With a sharp knife, start around 4 inches in from the top left and cut diagonally downwards to the bottom left to make a triangle.
  4. Now go back to the top point and cut down diagonally to the right so that you have a curved triangular base, again, of around 4 inches.
  5. Keep going until you reach the end of your yufka sheet and you have a series of triangles of roughly similar sizes (they don't need to be exact).
  6. Separate your yufka triangles and cover with a plastic bag or damp cloth so they don't dry out.

For The Börek Cheese Filling
  1. Take all of your ingredients and mix them together, thoroughly, in a bowl.

How To Make Sigara Böreği (Cheese Rolls)
  1. Take your first yufka triangle and place it on a hard flat surface, pointed end facing away from you.
  2. Place one heaped teaspoonful of your cheese mixture about 1 inch above the wide end of your triangle.
  3. Arrange the cheese mixture into a thin line, leaving a small gap at each side.
  4. Brush the top part of the triangle with your egg mixture.
  5. Fold the wide end over your cheese mixture.
  6. Now fold in the edges at each side so your filling is encased.
  7. Roll the yufka until you get to the top point of your triangle.
  8. Keep doing this until you have used up all of your yufka or filling.
  9. Take a pan for deep frying and heat your sunflower oil.
  10. Fry your sigara böreği in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden brown.
  11. Remove and leave to drain on kitchen paper.
  12. Serve hot as a meze or with Turkish breakfast
Notes
Your quantities will make roughly 30 sigara böreği. This can be fewer or more in number depending on how many yufka triangles you make and how much filling you place in each cheese roll.
Calorie count is meant as a rough guide and is based on one cheese roll.
Cheese rolls can be eaten cold, too, but they are best served hot.
Your uncooked cheese rolls will keep in the fridge for a couple of days if you don't eat them all at once.
You can also freeze sigara böreği and cook straight from frozen.
Sigara böreği can be oven-baked but the traditional way to cook them is to deep fry them.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 130

Mmm, Time To Eat Our Sigara Böreği

If you want to be healthy, you can individually brush each sigara with a bit of oil or egg and bake them in the oven as I’ve done with the previous börek recipes. However, sigara are usually deep-fried and we only have them a couple of times a year so we tend to deep fry them as a treat.

Turkish Cheese Rolls

Deep fried sigara böreği is a treat

Deep fry your sigara in batches – they only take 3-4 minutes. When the pastry has turned golden, remove them from the pan and place on kitchen roll to drain for a minute or so.

Turkish Food - Sigara Börek

A serving of Sigara Böreği

Serve your hot, crispy, spicy sigara böreği to your friends – they’ll love it! Cheese rolls are a definite winner whether they are a starter on their own, part of your meze table or even part of your Turkish breakfast.

Sigara Böreği – Useful Information

  • These days, you can buy ready-cut yufka triangles in the supermarkets. We have never used these so we don’t know if they dry out quickly on opening, making them difficult to work with. We also prefer to support our local yufkacı.
  • You can buy locally made, fresh yufka from the yufkacı bakeries or from small markets (shops). Your local yufkacı will often have a stall at the pazar, too. We often buy ours from Fethiye Market on Tuesdays.
  • Uncooked sigara böreği will keep in your fridge, covered, for a couple of days. You can also freeze them and cook them from frozen. We have never done this as our cheese rolls tend to be devoured by friends on the day we make them!
  • For substitutes, feta cheese can be used instead of lor. You can also use phyllo pastry as well as yufka for your cheese rolls.

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Comments

  1. I love the cigars, a great meze offering and easy to make! Hope you had a wonderful Easter.

  2. You got me dreaming! Might be hard to find borek here, but great substitute. Thanks!

  3. Yum….definitely one of my fav mezes as well. I’ll have to try at home sometime.

  4. I used to eat these all the time when I lived in Bosnia. They had Meat ones and Potato ones as well, washed down with a yoghurt drink and I even got my class in school to make them last year.

    Fantastic food!

  5. @ Peter M: We managed to have a barbecue over Easter weekend, but not half as appetising as yours looked! 🙂

    @ Belinda: Phyllo will be fine. Maybe you’ll need double sheets.

    @ Joy: I think everyone loves sigara don’t they?! 🙂

    @ Guy: Interesting. I make a meaty one, too. In Turkey, there are different börek dishes that include meat and potato but not usually the sigara. Can you remember the name of the yoghurt drink? We drink ayran here. I bet it’s a similar name. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  6. Hi Julia! Sigara Boreks actually freeze brilliantly so don’t worry. Yours look very good indeed.

    BTW have you heard that the BAN is officially OFF????

  7. aberdeenpeanut says:

    Lovely, my favourite, when I have this then I know I am in Turkey
    Fethiye 12/05/11 here we come
    First stop Friday market for shopping, second stop Mozaik Bahce for lunch, third stop make sigara böreği as starter for friends bbq on Friday night
    Love your blog and please keep the recipes coming, by the time I move to Fethiye in 4 years time I will hopefully have mastered all my favourites

  8. I was actually just thinking of making something with cheese. Been on a cheese binge so this is definitely a recipe I want to try out…I’m thinking of mixing in some mushroom. Yum!

  9. We love these, they look great.(I think the ban has lifted I can now comment-couldnt before)

  10. @ Claudia: Yes, everyone assures us of the freezing thing – we just eat them all too quickly to have put it to the test. 🙂

    @ Aberdeenpeanut: Thanks for the lovely comment! 🙂 Ha ha, love your itinerary. We’re hoping to keep the recipes coming on a weekly basis so by the time you move here in 4 years, you’ll have another 208 to try! 🙂

    @ Grace: We love mushrooms with pastry too. Hope it works out and you fix your cheese binge. 🙂

    @ Simcha: Ahhh, thought our Turkey traffic had suddenly reappeared. Welcome back to the real world. Hopefully all will be normal now. 🙂

  11. Anonymous says:

    Nom Nom Nom! These are probably my favourite of all the Turkish Nom Noms. Lovely with garlic mayo.
    Copy/paste recipe.

    Steve B

  12. Yum… those look so good! That might be reason enough to book a trip.

  13. @ Steve: Nom nom indeed. Always love your comments! Thought it was a comment from a friend at first. She says Nom Nom,too. 🙂

    @ Don: Well, you know where we are. 🙂

  14. These boreks are my husband Dogan’s fave……he eats the whole batch himself with a big glass of ayran. Here in Toronto I have to buy ready packaged cut/up yufka….to roll them up.
    thanks for sharing your recipe and photo’s.

  15. @ Erica: Ha ha. We (recently) love ayran, too. Really interesting how sigara börek is so popular amongst everyone.

  16. Your sigara borek was amazing…so, so, so good…!

  17. @ Anil: Thank you very much – do we have to buy you a beer for saying that now?! 🙂 Always good to have someone Turkish endorsing the food.

  18. You had me at “cheese” hahaha 🙂

  19. @ Cailin: Well, some people are just easy pleased aren’t they? :))

  20. this looks so good … i think i have phyllo pastry and i will try to use it in this recipe .. do you think it will work in baking insted of frying ?

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