Börek ‘cigars’ with brains

Börek ‘cigars’ with brains

Lisa Cohen and William Meppem

The creamy texture of poached brains makes a surprising and wonderful filling for crisp, golden börek ‘cigars’.


Quantity Ingredient
4 sets lamb’s brains
1 lemon, cut into quarters
1 stick cinnamon
4 cloves
1/2 onion
1 litre water
20g unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried mint
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
100g mozzarella
150g haloumi, washed
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, shredded
1/2 lemon, finely zested
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 free-range egg, plus 1 yolk extra
1 sheet yufka pastry
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
vegetable oil, for deep-frying


  1. Soak the lamb’s brains in cold, salted water overnight, or in milk for 2 hours.
  2. Place the lamb’s brains in a large saucepan with the lemon, cinnamon, cloves, onion and water. Bring to the boil, then skim and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the brains to cool in the liquid. When they are cold, remove them from the pan and split each set in half. Pat dry, then cut into 1 cm dice.
  3. Melt the butter in a heavy-based frying pan and sweat the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes until soft and translucent, then stir in the mint and pepper. Tip the mixture into a bowl and leave to cool. Stir in the brains, cheeses, parsley, zest, nutmeg, salt and egg yolk.
  4. Open out the sheet of yufka pastry so you have a large round on your work surface. Use a sharp knife to cut the pastry in half, then cut each half into eight equal skinny triangles. Stack them on top of each other and trim the curved edge straight. You should have a total of 16 triangles.
  5. Work with one triangle at a time, with the point facing away from you. Place a spoonful of filling at the base of the triangle and fold the corners in and over it. Roll the pastry and filling up like a cigar, moistening the end with a little water to help seal it. Repeat until all the pastry and filling have been used. Lightly beat the egg with the extra-virgin olive oil and brush each rolled börek with a little of this egg wash.
  6. Heat the oil in a small saucepan or deep-fryer to 200ºC. Fry the börek a few at a time for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you fry the remaining börek.
Middle Eastern
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