Round for gloryThe bureka, a type of savory stuffed pastry, is believed to have its origins with the ancient Turks of Central Asia. The westward Turkic migration helped to spread this iconic food throughout the Ottoman Empire, resulting in variations of both name and preparation. From Tunisia to Albania, böreks, boeregs, briks, and boureki consist of phyllo or puff pastry packed with a range of fillings (ground meat, cheese, squash and potato are popular). In Israel, bourekas, as they are known, come in countless shapes and flavors—our favorite stateside interpretation of the Holy Land nosh is a sun-dried tomato and goat-cheese creation ($5) at Gazala’s Place (709 Ninth Ave between 48th and 49th Sts, 212-245-0709). Chef Gazala Halabi uses a traditional recipe from the Israeli Druze, a religious group with ties to early Islam. She stuffs puff pastry with a mixture of fresh cow’s- and goat’s-milk cheeses, labanee yogurt and sweet-tart flecks of sun-dried tomato—nearly every element homemade. The bagel-like round is sprinkled with white and black sesame seeds and baked. As you pull apart the oven-warm bourekas, the sheer outer layer flakes and crumbles on your fingers, revealing a buttery and elastic interior, and beyond that a tangy cheese center. It’s a filling snack, and one we’d cross an empire to taste.
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