Yemeni Boreck or Borek

Boreck or Borek literally means layers and is a recipe of Turkish origins that spread to other regions during the reign of the Ottoman Empire. This version is from Yemen and I found it here in my attempt to find a one dish meal. I used paneer to make this dish vegetarian.

I made 10 layers of dough rolled thin enough to read through. Five layers are above the filling and five are below it. The surprise ingredient is cinnamon powder. I added it with a huge dose of skepticism but I was pleasantly surprised. The pastry was flaky and crispy. The filling was delicious. Everyone loved it and we all agreed this was a keeper, something I would make again.

I used a spring-foam pan to bake the borek to make it easy on myself to take the pie out. My spring-foam pans are over 15 years old of a quality you don't see anywhere anymore. The pie was perfectly baked.

You will need
For the filling
7 oz. paneer
1 small onion, minced
1 tsp. coriander cumin powder
1 tsp. paprika
salt to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil

Other filling ingredients
1 tsp. cinnamon powder
4-5 springs cilantro, minced
1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tsp. nigella seeds
oil or butter as needed between layers

For the dough
3 cups whole wheat flour (I used chapati flour)
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. oil, divided
~ 1/2 cup water

Make the filling first. Heat oil in a pan and add the onions. Saute on medium heat until tender and slightly browned. Add the coriander cumin powder, paprika and mix well. Add crumbled paneer and salt to taste. Let it cook until paneer starts to brown a little. Keep aside to cool.

To make the dough sift the flour in mixing bowl. Add the sugar and salt. Beat the egg in a separate bowl and add it along with one tablespoon of oil to the flour. Combine to form a crumbly mixture. Add the water a little at a time to form a soft dough. You may not need all the water. The dough should not be sticky. Using the remaining oil knead the dough well until it soft and smooth. Cover and keep aside for 10-15 minutes. In the meantime prepare a pan by applying butter or oil to the bottom and sides. Keep aside.

Divide the dough into 10 portions. Adjust the size of the dough portions according to the size of your pan. If your pan is wide you want bigger portions. I made small lime size portions for my 7" pan. Take one portion on a floured work surface and roll it out as far as you can go. It should be as thin as possible. Place it on the bottom of the pan. Brush a liitle oil around the layer. Sprinkle some nigella seeds over the top.

Repeat the process of rolling with 4 more layers and place them on top of the first layer with a sprinkling of oil in between layers. You do not need nigella seeds in between each layers. Save the remaining seeds for the top. Now you are ready to add the filling. Sprinkle the cinnamon powder over the layer.

Next add the paneer filling and spread it evenly. As you can see I started adding the cilantro before I realized I should take a picture.

Next add the cilantro over the top.

Last of all add the feta cheese.

Continue working the remaining layers as before with a hint of oil in between. When the last layer is done sprinkle the remaining nigella seeds. You could add some melted butter over the last layer if you wish.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Let the borek rest on the kitchen counter until the oven heats up. Before placing the pan in the oven cut the borek into wedges. Do not score. Make sure you cut through all layers. This allows steam to escape and makes the layers flaky.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the top is brown.

Take it out of the pan and let it rest a couple minutes.

Borek is best eaten hot out of the oven.



  1. Beautifully baked borek. Those nigella seeds on the borek are so pretty to look at. The borek itself is perfectly baked and the layers are flaky crisp and flaky. Must have made a filling meal.

  2. That's one unique, flaky bread with a yummy filling.

  3. This dish is surely a keeper Varada, thanks for the steps, so good to try on our own..

  4. Wow, you made your own pastry layers -- that is amazing. Cinnamon is sure an unusual ingredient.

  5. Looks so good and surely is filling.10 layers of pastry sheets! Thats a lot of work but I guess the result is worth the effort!

  6. This is so different kind of borek. Lots of countries have this but other versions I have had use either phyllo or puff pastry . but this looks fabulous also


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