For us, visiting a new place is as much about the food as it is the scenery.
Well, whoever we asked, and wherever we asked, the overwhelming reply we got was, “You must try Tatar food – çibörek.”
Of course, the first thought that sprung from that was, why has Eskişehir got Tatar food?
A bit of research told us the Tatar people are originally from the Crimea. And, according to the International Committee For Crimea, for various reasons, many have migrated southwards to Turkey over the centuries since the 1700s.
Eskişehir and Polatlı, close to Ankara, still have concentrations of Tatar people today. Official population numbers are unclear.
Çibörek At The Kırım Tatar Culture House In Eskişehir
So, as we were wandering around Eskişehir’s Ottoman houses in the old city of Odunpazarı, we happened upon the Kırım Tatar Kültür Evi (Kırım Tatar Culture House)…and they were advertising their homemade çibörek.
Odunpazarı is arguably Eskişehir’s prime tourist centre, especially for domestic tourists, so we may well have paid way over the odds for our special börek.
But why not enjoy a bit of indulgence from time to time?
Çibörek is a Tatar dish, we were face to face with a Tatar Culture House; what else were we going to do?
It would have been such a waste not to take advantage of our situation.
We’d never seen çibörek before so we sat down and confidently ordered iki tane (two of), expecting two çibörek to appear…
And then we wondered what we’d let ourselves in for when the guy who served us walked off shouting ‘iki porsyon’ (two portions) to the lady who was cooking inside.
And let us just say right now: if you’re in Eskişehir’s Odunpazarı at the Kırım Tatar Culture House and you’re not that hungry (we’d only finished breakfast a couple of hours before), and you’re only trying çibörek out of curiosity, one portion between the two of you is enough!
One portion of çibörek is five individual börek – we took our time ploughing through these, we can tell you.
We didn’t want the people thinking we didn’t like their food.
And there were other customers there who didn’t seem too perplexed by the size of the their lunch – guess they already knew better than we did.
Afterwards, photos we saw in other börek places advertising their çibörek also showed an image of a plate with five pieces.
The people of Eskişehir have no shortage of börek establishments to choose from, so photos of çibörek portions were plentiful.
And the çibörek verdict?
It’s definitely worth trying. All local foods are definitely worth trying, wherever you may be.
Neither of us fell in love with it but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.
Both the meat and the pastry were so light – apparently, getting the pastry like this is a special skill. – but it’s just so hard to top many of the fantastic foods we’ve eaten in Turkey over the years.
Çibörek is a thin layer of boiled, flattened minced meat (tastier than it sounds) encased in a lightly fried, thin casing of yufka (a slightly thicker type of phyllo pastry) and, aside from the serving of Antep Ezmesi, that’s about it.
The pastry fills with air, puffing the börek to a size that makes them look more filling than they actually are, but a light tap to flatten them makes them look more approachable and easier to tackle.
Eskişehir And Çibörek
- Eskişehir has many börek places to choose from throughout the city, some of them specialising purely in çibörek. Expect to see it written as either ‘çiğ börek’ or ‘çibörek.’ They are the same dish.
- We ate çibörek at the Kırım Tatar Kültür Evi in Odunpazarı.
- The Kırım Tatar Kültür Evi is on Şeyh Şemsettin Sokak. You can also visit the traditional Tatar house set up on the same site.
- Update: Since writing this post, we have had commercially produced çibörek at different restaurants and we can definitely say the Tatar version in Eskişehir by far outdoes these – it’s the especially light pastry that does it!
Have you ever tried çibörek? Is it a thumbs up or a thumbs down from you?