Borek and Chorba

Borek is essentially an Algerian egg roll, stuffed with meat and deep fried. There are other variants Bourek la’adjine, which is made with phyllo dough. Brik which is filled with tuna, potato, cheese, scallions,olives, and eggs. Sweet versions Samsa and M’hancha.  They are commonly served during Ramadan and the savory versions are to be accompanied with Chorba (soup).

I have a friend come over to help me make the food. As I learned when stuffing mantu making dumplings  is a lot more fun with extra hands and some champagne.

The first thing I need to figure out is the stuffing.  There seems to be tons of variations and this is common as it changes from family to family. I settle on doing mine with cheese, meat, Harissa, and olives.

The recipe just says cheese, but I’m, not sure what kind. I find other recipes that suggest using the laughing cow cheese. I don’t think this is authentic. So I try and find out about cheeses in Algeria. I find that there are two cheeses made in the Ahaggar region: Aoules and Takamart.  They are both made from goats milk. The Aoules cheese is always ground and mixed with a date paste before serving. So this doesn’t sound like the soft cheese. Takamart is described as a dry uncured cheese and not so sure this is it. I find another article on  Bouhezza. Which they state is a traditional Algerian ripened cheese made in goatskin bags; however the article is about studying the chemical composition of the cheese. Not entirely helpful to me. I  did find that Algerians love gruyere, but this is not soft. So maybe the swiss laughing cow cheese is not a mistake. Tired of researching and pretty sure even if I found the right cheese it probably won’t be allowed to be imported into the US and I want to get the ingredients before my friend comes over. I just go to the store and look at the various soft cheese options.  I grab the laughing cow cheese, a goat cheese cream cheese, and a sheeps milk cheese Brebirousse D’Argental. We will just make a variety and see which is best.

Harissa ends up being extremely easy to find. It is a chilli paste, which is used in a lot of Algerian dishes and as a condiment. My friend tries a little bit of it and it was extremely hot. It is a bit of a slow heat but it lingers for a while.

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Okay I have my ingredients, my friend finally arrived,  and the champagne is poured so we are ready to cook.

We start with the soup first. Instead of chunky vegetables we shred the carrots, zucchini, and potato. The meat, onion, and celery is cubed. Spices added and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

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Onto the Borek. First you spread the cheese.

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Then add the Harissa. As this is so hot we decided to spreed it out with the cheese.

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Add the meat

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Top with some olives

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Then Roll

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Soup is ready and we fry the rolls.

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The Borek is really good. We try one of each of the cheese and we don’t like the sheeps milk cheese, Brebirousse D’Argental. It got more pungent in the cooking and is too strong of a flavor. I like the goat cheese cream cheese the best. It has a hint of the cheese flavor but not over dominant. The laughing cow is not noticeable at all to me, but my friend prefers this one. The meat is moist and the flavors of the seasoning are amazing with a punch of salt from the olives. It pairs beautifully with the soup that has a complex savory cinnamon season mixture. Yum!


 

Recipes

Borek

Original recipe can be found here

  1. 1 Tsp. extra virgin olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  3. 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  4. 1 lb. lean ground beef
  5. 1 Tsp. salt
  6. 1/2 Tsp. crushed black pepper
  7. 3/4 Tsp. ground cumin
  8. 1/4 Tsp. cayenne
  9. 1/2 Tsp. ground coriander
  10. 1/2 Tsp. ground ginger
  11. 1/4 Cup. cilantro leaves, chopped
  12. Egg roll wrappers
  13. Goat cream cheese
  14. Green olive, sliced
  15. Harissa
  16. canola oil for frying
  1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, the well drained spinach and the garlic. Cook for few minutes. Add the ground beef and season with salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, coriander and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is completely cooked and the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add cilantro. Mix well and taste to adjust seasoning. Transfer the filling to a bowl and cool completely before filling the wrappers.
  2. Lay a wrapper on a clean work surface. Lay it in front of you as a diamond.
  3. Smear cheese in the middle of the wrapper.
  4. Smear Harissa over the cheese
  5. Add about 2 teaspoons of the meat mixture
  6. Top with a few olive slices.
  7. Flip the bottom of the egg roll wrapper over the meat.
  8. Fold in both sides to form an envelope
  9. Dampen your finger with water and rub over the remaining wrapper edge.
  10. Then roll so that it is sealed.
  11. Cover finished ones with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel until ready to fry.
  12. To fry the borek, fill a wok with about 1/2-inch of oil. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Gently place the bourek into the hot oil making sure not to crowd the pan and fry until golden brown on all sides, 3 to 5 minutes total. Place the fried borek on paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

Chorba

Original recipe can be found here

  •  1 ½ tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb lamb, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron
  • 2 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 2 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • vermicelli egg pasta, quarter size stack, broken in half.
  • 1 lemon
  • ¼ bunch mint leaves, rough chop
  • ¼ bunch cilantro, rough chop
  1. Heat oil in a large pot.
  2. Add lamb, salt, pepper, saffron, and onions cook for about 8 minutes until the lamb is browned and onions are translucent. Remove from pan.
  3. Add garlic, celery, carrot, potato, zucchini, and spices to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add back the lamb mixture, tomato puree, chickpeas, and chicken stock to the pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Add vermicelli and cook for five minute or until pasta is done.
  6. Remove from heat and add the juice from one lemon.
  7. Garnish soup with mint and cilantro
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