Originally written as part of the World Cup 2014 cooking project.
Bosnia and Herzegovina are the babies of the World Cup in Brazil. Considering that their first ever international took place in 1995 in Albania, they have come on in leaps and bounds to qualify for their first World Cup. Although, saying that they have come remarkably close to qualification on two previous occasions missing out only through the heartbreak of a playoff each time.
We are now in to the territory of every team having played a game in the World Cup. Bosnia and Herzegovina have started out with a narrow loss to Argentina. Everyone is talking about how wonderful Messi was and how great the goal he scored against them was. True, he opened up for the shot well, but on close inspection you will see it was a deflection off the shin of the opposition, the original shot looking like it was going wide. I would like to reserve my praise for the way Bosnia and Herzegovina attacked the game and give the team of Argentinian stars a run for their money.
For the next two games against Nigeria and Iran I am looking for Edin Džeko to step up and show the goal scoring prowess he has shown for his club Manchester City this year, having helped them win the English Premier League last month.
I have taken some classic street food for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s dish; food that you could well imagine fans eating at the football in downtown Sarajevo. The börek is a family of pastries consisting of meat, cheese or vegetable fillings parcelled in flaky phyllo pastry; iconic throughout the Balkan nations. The burek is Bosnia and Herzegovina’s take on it, usually in the form of a filled spiralled pastry tube. Thinking about it many nations and continents have their own pastry equivalents; England has the old Cornish pasty, there is calzone in Italy, the kringle in Scandinavia, the empanada in Latin America and the Samosa which can be found throughout Asia and Africa.
The fun in making the burek is in the pastry. Pushing and stretching on an oiled surface without tearing it is an art. It’s messy and creative but done well produces a great flaky pastry. I have seen the experts making and flinging metre diameter paper thin sheets of pastry in the air to create perfect circles. I am afraid that there would be some serious kitchen decoration if I tried – but feel free to give it a go.
The filling is a typical meat one enhanced in flavour through the use of sweet paprika, allspice and a touch of cinnamon.
Burek - Bosnia and HerzegovinaPrint
- For the Filling:
- ■ 3 tbsp. olive oil |
- ■ 3 brown onions | Finely diced.
- ■ 2 pinches sea salt |
- ■ 375g beef mince | Topside or blade.
- ■ 375g lamb mince | Shoulder.
- ■ 1 tbsp. sweet paprika |
- ■ 1 tbsp. allspice |
- ■ ½ tsp. cinnamon |
- For the Pastry:
- ■ 500g plain flour |
- ■ pinch sea salt |
- ■ 150ml cold water |
- ■ 1 egg | Beaten.
- Non-flavoured oil for storing and forming the pastry.
For the filling: Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat and when hot add the onions and salt. Sauté until golden and then add the beef and lamb mince. Keep stirring and breaking up the mince as it cooks and browns. Once browned add the spices and cook for a further minute. Test for seasoning and then remove from the heat and let the mixture cool.
Pre-heat an oven to 200°C (390°F).
For the pastry: Add the flour and salt to a mixing bowl. Gradually add the water and either using your hands or a food mixer with a dough hook mix until a dough is formed – you may not need to use all the water. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is very smooth and elastic. Split the dough in to 4 portions and press each one in to a 2.5cm thick disc. Put the discs into a small bowl rubbing a little oil in between each so they don’t stick. Now fill the bowl with oil until the pastry is covered.
Rub some oil on to a non-porous surface i.e. not wood, to coat it. Take the first pastry disc and allow any excess oil to drip off. Place the disc on the oiled surface and from the inside out press the disc to increase its size and decrease its thickness. When about half a centimetre thick take the edge of the disc and gently pull it outwards, doing this motion evenly around the disc. Be careful not to tear the thinning pastry. When the pastry circle is about 70cm in diameter place one quarter of the meat filling in a straight line along the edge of one quarter of the circle (on the chord for any geometricians). Now roll the pastry tightly around the filling and keep rolling until you have a tube. Carefully spiral the tube and brush the top with the beaten egg. Place the uncooked burek on an oiled baking tray and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Repeat this process three more times for the rest of the filling and pastry. Eat hot and enjoy the football.