Four hundred years of Turkish-Lebanese relations - Ispanakli Bprek

Not only is Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri busy rekindling new Lebanese Turkish relations, but I myself, have had for a while an accrued interest in Turkish food; and to top it all, my long standing Turkish friend Binnur has come to stay.

In true Eastern style, she arrived laden with Turkish delicacies. One precious load was Yufka, flat and thin pastry much like filo. However, hers does not come pre-packed and brittle. It is rather one that is home-made and hand-rolled and has to be cooked on the same day or it would lose its freshness. From the minute I laid my eyes on these perfect sheets of pastry, the word filo took on a totally new dimension. Uncooked, it was soft and almost elastic in consistency. Baked, it became crunchy but not dry, light but not too flaky and buttery but not greasy.

As she proceeded to make an Ispanakli borek, I offered to melt butter for brushing the pastry sheets. She opted instead for some warmed milk mixed with butter and a whole egg. She spooned the runny mixture between many layers of dough and then placed spinach and onion filling which she covered with more layers of pastry and butter/milk mixture. She placed the dish in a very hot oven. Thirty minutes later, the borek was puffed, golden and ready to eat. She served it with strained yoghurt which she invited us to spoon inside the pie on top of the filling. Flavours and textures were simply divine!

It seems to me that 400 years of Turkish-Lebanese relations will still be going strong.

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