Making byrek

It’s a wet, miserable Monday afternoon… so time to do some cooking…

There was only ever one place to start my journey to Albanian housewife success and that was with byrek. The flaky pastry stuffed with cheese, meat and/or spinach is not unique to Albania but is definitely part of the staple diet here.

The best byrek I’ve had yet was made by my mother-in-law. And no, I’m not just saying that for the brownie points. There’s a real art to a quality byrek and hers is melt in the mouth delicious.

So here’s the pathway to basic byrek success… (note: agologies for the I-instagramed-my-lasagne quality of the photos – I am definitely not a food photographer!)

Ingredients:

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  • 1 x pkt peta (pastry). Ask at your local Turkish supermarket for a suitable equivalent
  • 5 x veze (eggs). Whisked
  • Qumesht (milk). We used about 1 ½ cups
  • Gjize (soft cheese). Crumbled up feta is a good alternative
  • Vaj (oil)

Mix eggs, milk and gjize together to get kind of a gloopy, lumpy mixture. No need to over whisk the eggs. But do make sure that you haven’t got any enormous lumps of gjize in your mixture.

Warm up a large flat flan-type dish. Heat up a bit of oil in it and spread the warm oil around the bottom and sides of the dish so that the byrek won’t stick to it.

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Start with covering the bottom of the dish with a couple of layers of the pastry. Then spread a few spoons of the gloopy mixture over. Then add a few more layers of pastry – before adding more of the gloop. It’s a rough science – you kind of just patch work the pastry over the bottom of your dish. Proper Albanian housewives have large circular dishes perfectly sized to take the round sheets of peta. But I’m just a beginner – I haven’t got one of those yet.

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Place dish in oven and cook for 20-25 min until the top is crispy and the innards are spongy but not soggy.

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Best eaten warm. But great cold from the fridge for breakfast.

If you want to get more adventurous, you can cook up some mince and onions etc and spoon it over with the egg mixture.

Yum!

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3 thoughts on “Making byrek”

  1. Thanks, Tamia – fascinating post. Very interesting that the pastry comes in circular form. In London I suppose we can use yufka pastry from the Turkish grocer or filo from the Greek cut to the right shape. Is the taste fairly mild, and the texture inside a little soft (like very thin lasagne)? It sounds a bit like the Turkish su böreği though you dip the pastry in boiling water for 10-15 seconds to cook it slightly first. I look forward to sampling your byrek when we get there!

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