Philip Juma from Juma Kitchen in Wimbledon shares a tasty recipe for lamb bourek. It’s easy to make and delicious to enjoy
I wanted to give you a dish that isn’t labour intensive but still involves a ‘hand-making’ aspect – this is Iraqi cuisine after all! Bourek or ‘boureg’ as it’s known (colloquial Iraqi) is described as stuffed pastry. This particular recipe, lamb bourek is a light filo pastry that is stuffed with fatty lamb mince, parsley, & spices and rolled into a cigar shape which is shallow-fried until golden and crispy.
I always craved this dish when I was younger, and I often remember being bitterly disappointed when there was none left to eat. Crispy on the outside with a fatty, spiced lamb centre – it’s so simple but it tastes amazing. This would often be served as part of the meze on the buffet table, or as a snack. I recently served it as part of a trio of appetisers at the Beyond Food Foundation fundraiser and the feedback was great.
For all the vegetarians, you can use cheese instead of meat. A combination of mozzarella, feta and pecorino is a great substitute, as mentioned by a famous Iraqi chef, and good friend, Nawal Nasrallah.
Before we go through the recipe, I just wanted to mention how important it is to use the correct filo pastry. You can obviously make your own, but I tend to buy a ready made pastry. I have tested so many different brands to perfect this dish; some filo sheets are too thick, some don’t turn crispy enough when fried, and others are not flexible enough to roll into, in this case, a cigar shape. After all the testing, the green packaged brand “Au Ble d’Or” is the best filo pastry for this dish. It’s so versatile and it gives such a crispy, crunchy finish after frying.
- 1 packet of Au Ble d'Or filo pastry.
- 500g fatty lamb mince
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley
- 1 large red chilli
- 1 onion
- 1 teaspoon all-spice
- ¼ teaspoon Cinnamon's
- ¼ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- 1 jar of mango pickle (Camel brand)
- Damp tea towel
- 1 egg (beaten) & pastry brush
- Finely dice the onion and begin sweating it in a low-heat pan with a glug of olive oil. Season with salt after a few minutes.
- Once the onions are translucent, add the lamb mince and begin frying. You will see a lot of fat being released. Let it happen and keep stirring so all the mince is browned.
- While the lamb is browning, begin chopping the parsley very fine, as well as the chilli.
- Once all the lamb is brown, and most of the fat has evaporated, add the chilli and the spices. Mix in and lower the heat. Allow to infuse for 3 minutes. Add some salt and taste. At his point you do not want your lamb mix too wet/fatty as it might break the filo. You want it moist but not wet.
- Once all the flavours are combined, mix in the chopped parsley. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool for a few hours.
- While the mix is cooling, blitz a jar of ‘Camel’ mango pickle in the food processor and set aside in a bowl.
- After the mix has cooled, lay the filo pastry out flat. Cut the pastry in half length ways and put one pile on top of the other. Cover with a damp tea towel (to avoid the pastry drying/going crusty).
- Take the rectangle shaped pastry sheet, and trim of the excess so it looks like a square. Once done, turn the square so one corner is facing you (almost like a diamond shape).
- Take a tablespoon of cooled, lamb mix and place at the bottom of the filo sheet (above the corner). Shape the mix horizontally and then take the bottom corner and wrap it over the lamb mix. Roll again, then fold over each side. Roll once more, which should leave you with 2 inches of filo. Brush this area with the beaten egg, and then complete the bourek by rolling it onto the egg surface so it's sealed. You should have a cigar shape. Set aside on greaseproof paper.
- Once all the bourek are rolled, allow them to air-dry on the greaseproof. You can freeze any that you don't wish to eat (They fry perfectly from frozen too).
- Take the sunflower oil and generously add enough oil to the pan so the boureks are half covered. It’s important to shallow fry (not deep fry) as you get a more golden colour.
- Once the oil is medium heat, add the bourek. Depending on the size of you pan, only fry 4-6 at a time, you don’t want to over-crowd the pan. Don’t walk away, as the bourek will burn. Stay by your pan and be sure to keep an eye on them browning as this happens quickly. If you feel it's too quick then lower the heat. Once golden all over, drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve the bourek with the pureed mango pickle.