Chebureki - everyday Crimean food

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By Robert Harland

What's cooking?

Monday, April 7, 2014


CRIMEA has been much in the news lately with Vladimir Putin's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula to the Russian Federation.

In an idle moment last week, I wondered what kind of food the people of Crimea ate. No doubt the same as the Russian diet I thought - lots of borsch soup, cabbage dumplings, potatoes and sauerkraut. Sure enough these items are on the usual menu, but one dish caught my eye which I tried and can thoroughly recommend as either a starter, snack or main course.

It's a bit like an empanada and it's called a chebureki - a half-moon-shaped dough turnover with a filling of ground meat and onions and fried.

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It's a national dish of the Crimean Tatars - indeed the dish came to Russia from Crimean Tatars during the Soviet Union era. I'm also told it's a popular street food in Russia and other former USSR countries.

Traditionally the chebureki is made with beef. However, a popular recipe is a mixture of beef and pork. Lamb, chicken or turkey can also be used. And you can add a shot of vodka to give it a real Crimean taste.

You can make the dough from scratch or just buy uncooked flour tortillas - it saves you time and you don't have to deal with the mess.

Dough

3.5 cups all purpose four
1 cup water
0.25 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. vodka (optional)

Boil the water, milk and oil. Add half a cup of flour and dissolve in the liquid mixture. Slowly add the remainder of the flour, egg and vodka. Knead the dough until it no longer sticks to your fingers. Add more flour if it keeps sticking. Place the mixture in the ref for an hour, but after 30 minutes knead once again.

Filling

1.5 cups ground beef
1.5 cups ground pork
0.5 cups chopped cilantro
0.5 cups chopped white onion
0.5 cups chopped white mushrooms
1 cup water
5 minced garlic cloves
Salt, pepper

Fry the onions and mushroom in butter until golden brown. Thoroughly mix with all other ingredients.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut into thin large circles, about the diameter of a dinner plate.

Place 2 tablespoons of the filling on one half of the dough (or the raw tortilla), leaving a little room between the meat and the edge. Fold the other half over the filling. Pinch the edges together and using a fork press down all along the edge of the chebureki.

If using tortilla brush water on the entire border of the tortilla; enough so you can see that it’s wet, otherwise it won't seal.

Fry or deep-fry the pocket in vegetable oil for about three minutes each side, flipping as necessary, until golden brown.

Delicious and very versatile. You can add cheese, a little mashed potato - whatever takes your fancy. I made a batch using small tortillas for snacks and large tortillas for a main course. They can be frozen - just place in a plastic bag and pop into the freezer.

Bon Appétit!

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 07, 2014.

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