Gevre: A flaky börek like none other

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WHAT'S SPECIAL

The Turks are known for their wide variety of börek; the layered goodness with filling ranging from the savory to the sweet, like the Laz Böreği. One such example, though not sweet, is the Diyarbakır Gevre, a thin börek that is sure to make you lick your fingers.

What is Gevre?

Gevre is a börek, resembling katmer, stuffed with kavurma (broiled meat) and cheese.

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The origins

When talking about börek, we need to have a look at yufka, also known as phyllo. The nomadic Turks in Asia Minor prepared their bread dough in a flat manner, as baking it in flat loaves as we’re used to nowadays would require an oven and most of all more fire and time. (1) A thin layer of dough would bake through easily and with the addition of other ingredients you could achieve a wide variety of dishes. These roots of yufka can be easily traced back centuries as it has made into the 11th century Turkic dictionary “Diwan Lughat al-Turk”. Not only yufka itself but these variations such as the beforementioned “katmer” were mentioned there as well. The addition of sweet ingredients such as honey made this dish the forefather of the renowned baklava as well. (2) (3)

Naturally with the centuries passing, many a different version of these dishes took hold. The sweet katmer is well known in the southeastern region and this paper-thin dessert is usually stuffed with pistachios.

The savory version “gevre” is popular in Diyarbakır but due to the work that needs to be put into this dish, it is also called “bayram böreği”, literally meaning “festivity börek”. You can find this dish on the table along with other delicacies in the holy Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. The dish is considered rather rustic and simple in its ingredients. The written records are rarely found for the exact version presented here.

Etymology

Gevre is a name of a plain in Diyarbakır, probably pointing to the origin of the name of this dish but one can also consider that the verb “gevre|mek” stems from the Syriac “mlē” meaning full, and that word itself stems from the verb for “filling/stuffing”. Both options are strong contenders.

The recipe

Roll up your sleeves and roll out some dough! While you’ll sweat a bit to make this delicacy, it is most definitely worth a try. As usual with these kinds of recipes you’ll want to add or remove from the suggested amount of flour depending on the type and brand.

Gevre: A flaky börek like none else

The Turks are known for their wide variety of börek; the layered goodness with filling ranging from the savory to the sweet, like the Laz Böreği. One such example, though not sweet, is the Diyarbakır Gevre, a thin börek that is sure to make you lick your fingers.
Servings 5
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients

  • 2 onions
  • 250 gr kavurma
  • 250 gr çökelek cheese crumbly kind of cheese
  • 500 gr flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 200-250 ml water
  • 1-2 tbsp oil

Instructions

  • Add the flour, salt and yeast into a bowl and by gradually adding water you’ll want to achieve a soft but non-sticking dough
  • Let the dough rest for 30 minutes in a warm place.
  • Meanwhile chop the onions finely and sauté them with a bit of oil until they have softened and let them cool off.
  • Separate the dough is several pieces and roll it out as thinly as possible, spread the onions, cheese and kavurma and close it off with another layer of dough.
  • Bake on a non-stick pan, if you have the opportunity, you can bake this on a “saç” over fire.
  • Repeat until you have no more dough and/or filling left.

Notes

Bibliography

(1) Priscilla Mary Işın, “Yufka: Food For The Cook’s Imagination” in Wrapped and Stuffed Foods: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2012
(2) Mustafa Aksoy, Gülistan Sezgi, Gastronomi ve Güneydoğu Anadolu Bölgesi Gastronomik Unsurları in “Journal of Tourism and Gastronomy Studies”, 2015
(3) Galip Akın, Vahdet Özkoçak, Timur Gültekin, Geçmişten Günümüze Geleneksel Anadolu Mutfak Kültürünün Gelişimi
 
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Turkish
Keyword: dough, Gevre, Meat, Turkish
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