Delicious delicacy pastirma, dried cured beef with a coating of spices called cemen, consisting of cumin, fenugreek, garlic and hot chili flakes is also very much enjoyed in pastries, as part of a mezze spread in Turkey. Pacanga boregi, as we call in Turkish, showcases flavorful pastirma, kasar cheese (Turkish cheddar cheese) and in some versions like mine, diced peppers and tomatoes. It is one of our favorite pastries for a Turkish style weekend brunch or as a mezze spread.
This wind-dried beef, pastirma has been made in Anatolia for centuries. It’s also been enjoyed throughout Middle Eastern as well as Eastern European countries and has a special part in Lebanese and Armenian cuisine. Some of the finest pastirma is being produced in Kayseri region, in Middle Anatolia, Turkey; it almost has a silky texture and just melts in the mouth, very aromatic with the spicy cemen coating; I hope you can have a chance to enjoy pastirma in Kayseri. Here is more information about pastirma, with a delicious egg recipe.
Paçanga böreği is regarded as a “traditional Sephardic Jewish specialty of Istanbul, filled with pastirma, kasar and julienned green peppers that is fried in olive oil and eaten as a mezze, appetizer”. There are a few versions of pacanga boregi, pastry rolls with pastirma; I like to include some tomatoes and green bell pepper (or pointy pepper, sivri biber in Turkey) in the filling. These juicy vegetables complement the rich, spicy taste of pastirma. They are traditionally made with fresh, paper thin sheets of yufka pastry and it’s great if you can get them. I used filo pastry sheets for my pacanga borek, and they worked well and boreks disappeared very quickly! They are also fried traditionally and I chose to bake them; they turned out very well.
I hope you enjoy these delicious rolls, Afiyet Olsun,
- 6 sheets of filo pastry (app. 48cmx25cm, 19”x10” each) or equivalent of yufka sheets
- ½ green bell pepper or 1 pointy green pepper (sivri biber), finely diced
- 2 small tomatoes, finely diced
- 15 ml/1 tbsp. olive oil
- 8 slices of pastirma (Turkish dried cured beef), or a pastrami of your choice, roughly chopped
- 150 gr / 5 oz. shredded Turkish kasar (cheddar) cheese or mozzarella, for a milder taste
- Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
- 1 egg, beaten to brush the pastries
- 15ml/1 tbsp. olive oil to brush the pastries
- Bowl of water to seal the pastries
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F/ Gas Mark 4
- For best results, thaw the frozen filo pastry in the fridge overnight and bring it to the room temperature 1 hour before using. That enables the filo thaw completely. If it is sold fresh as in the UK, you only need to bring the filo sheets to the room temperature 30 minutes before using.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan and stir in the diced pepper and tomatoes. Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 -5 minutes, until the peppers start to soften. Season with salt and ground black pepper to your taste (You may use a little salt or omit, as the pastirma is quite salty too). Set aside to cool.
- Place the chopped pastirma or pastrami of your choice and the cheese in a wide bowl. Stir in the cooked tomatoes and peppers, combine well. Filling is ready.
- Cut the filo sheets into 11cmx25cm (4”x9”) rectangular stripes and stack on top of each other. Place a damp towel over them so that they don’t dry out.
- Lay two rectangular strips of filo sheets on top of one another.
- Place a generous tablespoon of the filling along the short end near you (take care not to overfill as the filling may ooze out while cooking). Fold over the pastry from each side to seal in the mixture and then roll up like a fat cigar.
- Seal the end of the pastry as well as any openings/ cracks with little water. Repeat this with the remaining filo sheets.
- Mix the egg with the olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the boreks, pastries with this mixture and place them on a greased tray.
- Bake the pastries in the preheated oven for about 25 - 30 minutes or until golden.
- Serve hot as a mezze spread, weekend brunch or a tasty snack.
Spring is in the air, trees are in full blossom, I love this time of the year. It’s the tulip season in Istanbul, and they are such a gorgeous sight to see. Here is a favorite tulip photo to share from my culinary & cultural trip to Istanbul last April; I hope it brightens your day!
I’ve never heard of Pacanga before – I sometimes wonder how I can have missed so much of Turkish cuisine.
It is quite popular, especially in Istanbul BB, most kebab houses serve as a mezze 🙂
I love this cured meat, I remember when I would visit my family in Australia where there are lots of Turks we would eat it often, it was salty and fatty which of course I loved! These look delicious, I actually live in a city now where I believe there are some Turkish butchers so I will have to look for my much-missed pastirma. I love the pictures of the Tulips, I keep seeing these lovely flowers from a travel photo blogs in Istanbul, beautiful 🙂
Merhaba, many thanks for your kind note, I am glad pastirma brought back some happy memories. It’s great that you have some Turkish butchers nearby, I am sure they’ll guide you thru the right direction for pastirma : ) My best wishes, cok selamlar, Ozlem
Boregi is a favorite since you’ve introduced me to them, Ozlem. Pastirma would make a great stuffing…Thanks for the recipe. XxPeri.
Dear Peri, you are very welcome 🙂 I hope you and family enjoy this one; you may get pastirma in a Middle Eastern shop – we used to have Phonecia bakery in Austin, i wonder if they have a similar store or branch near you? With love to you all, Ozlem xx
There’s a few stores selling middle eastern food around Dallas and some of them are very close to the Indian store…I had pastirma boregi at the farmers market in Seattle two months back:) So good!
Very glad to hear it Peri, makes a huge difference if you can get the authentic ingredients:) Ozlem xx
Özlem, Great timing with this recipe. We’re going out to the island this week and are a new friend, one of the students in our cooking class together who is doing studies in Sephardic cooking and its relationship to Turkish cooking. We’ll be sure to share this recipe together. Çok teşekkürler.
Merhaba Jolee, I do remember the lady doing a study on Sephardic cooking from our Istanbul class, how nice you’ll be getting together. Many thanks for sharing the recipe with her; with the lovely pastirma you can get in Istanbul, I hope you enjoy it all – mind you, anything one eats in Burgazada would be very memorable : ) Cok selam ve sevgiler, Ozlem
I loved eating these borek in Turkey! Maybe I’ll make a Polish-fied version of them here with smoked ham. Would that be alright? 😉
Why not?:) I am sure it will be delicious; perhaps if you can get a spicy one, it may be a similar one to pastirma – many thanks!
Mmmm, love love love paçanga. The pastırma and cheese go together so well. These look fab. Ellerine sağlık. 🙂
Tesekkurler Julia, I agree:) A bit of tomato and green peppers in the filling also complement cheese & pastirma, glad you enjoyed them. Cok selamlar, Ozlem
Merhaba! Love this pastry! in Lebanon pastirma is popular too thanks to the Armenian community who introduced it to the locals. I have tried making it myself at home a few times. So much of our culinary culture is enmeshed with yours!
Merhaba Joumana, thank you for stopping by; I do love the culinary heritage we share and all the variations come with it – very impressed you tried to make your own pastirma, a bit of a labor of love, I am sure very rewarding though.