It would make more sense to call this a spiral or a labyrinth, since that is how it looks when all the arms are linked together. My maternal grandma, who came from Yugoslavia, was a master of the ‘arm börek’, and she made giant spirals to feed a large family. In later life, she used an electric börek cooker, called a drum oven, which was a cylinder with doors on the side and shelves onto which you could place multiple layers of börek. Spinach is the traditional filling, but you can use kale, silverbeet or even minced lamb.
The Turkish word kol means ‘arm’, and presumably gets into the Turkish name for this börek because each roll of pastry is bent to look like an arm coming round to hug you.
- 250 g (9 oz) English spinach
- 1 onion
- 4 spring onions (scallions)
- 120 ml (4 fl oz) sunflower or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp dried mint
- 1 tbsp chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 150 g (5½ oz) feta
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/1 / 3 cup) milk
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
- 2 sheets yufka (or 4 layers of filo pastry)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Wash the spinach thoroughly. Remove the stalks, then finely chop the leaves. Finely slice the onion. Wash the spring onions, then remove the roots and green outer layer. Finely chop.
2. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes. Add the spring onion and cook for 3 minutes more. Add the spinach and cook for a further 3 minutes, then remove from the heat. Mix in all the dried herbs and spices and leave in the frying pan to cool. Grate the feta into the cooled spinach mixture.
3. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
4. Whisk the milk, egg, yoğurt and another 2 teaspoons of the oil in a mixing bowl.
5. Unfold a sheet of yufka and slice it down the middle to create a half-moon shape.
6. Brush a quarter of the egg mixture onto each half-moon of yufka. Spread a quarter of the spinach mixture along the flat side of the half-moon, making a strip about 5 cm (2 in) wide. Fold the strip over and tightly roll the yufka into a tube about 80 cm (31½ in) long.
7. Brush a 20 cm (8 in) wide baking tray with the remaining oil. Place the rolled börek onto the tray and pull it around into a circle, with the ends overlapping. Make another börek and join that to the inside end of the previous circle, so that it forms a smaller ring inside the first one. Add two more börek tubes so you have a spiral of smaller and smaller rings.
8. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the börek are golden. Turn off the heat, leaving the tray in the oven, and rest for 10 minutes.
9. Cut across the spiral four times to make eight wedges, and serve.
Recipe from Anatolia by Somer Sivrioglu and David Dale (Murdoch Books, $79.99, hbk). Photography by Bree Hutchins.