Poğaças pronounced pwa-cha are savory Turkish pastries made with feta and blue cheese. They are a close cousin to the Middle Eastern cheese fatayer, or the Greek tiropita. The dough is similar in consistency to that of a biscuit dough. It uses no eggs, and has a nice elasticity that makes it incredibly easy to work with. There is no sticky factor to this dough at all!!
Turkish cuisine is very interesting because it has elements of both east and west since Turkey is a geographical bridge between two cultures. I am definitely planning on offering you more Turkish recipes since I currently have several Turkish friends, both here in the US and in Turkey that I can go to for recipes and cultural information.
Poğaças are served as mezze, the Turkish or Middle Eastern equivalent to the Spanish tapas, that have grown in popularity over the last few years. I first came in contact Poğaças at a department Christmas party. One of the guys in my department, Doug, a real foodie brought them. I was extremely taken with the flavor and of course had to ask for the recipe which he was willing to share. This particular recipe came from one of the visiting Fullbright students – Bengu – who was teaching Turkish at the University where I work a number of years ago. I have adapted this recipe slightly. I have omitted the blue cheese since my family has issues with blue cheese, sigh!
Traditionally nigella seeds are sprinkled on top of the poğaças. They have a bit of a peppery taste and therefore impart an interesting flavor on the food. They are also known as black caraway, black cumin or black sesame. They are believed to have extensive health benefits. However if you cannot find these seeds, in your local market, you can use poppy seeds or toasted sesame seeds (like I did) or even chia seeds (no, not the chia pet kind!) Chia seeds are sold in the health food section of most grocery stores and are also said to have some great health benefits (Omega 3), but that is the subject of another post.
For the purpose of this recipe, toasted sesame seeds will work well. However if you must, you can purchase nigella seeds online.
If you love to try new ethnic foods here are some interesting dishes that are very easy. These are some of my most popular ethnic dishes, their history and ingredients to make at home.
Cuban Ropa Vieja: A true comfort food of slow cooked beef served over rice.
Recaito: This is the ingredient used in many Latin soups, stews and black beans.
Sofrito: You need to have this base ingredient for Latin style beans and shredded chicken.
Latin Style Black Beans: If you have never tried these you are missing out and they are so easy!
Tilapia Ceviche: A citrus cured fish or shrimp appetizer with some kick.
Poğaças - Turkish Cheese Filled Pastries
Turkish poğaças or pogachas is a very easy dough to make these tasty pastries. These make a 25-28 small sized pastries that are usually served as mezze. The savory flavor is really nice when filled with feta or blue cheese. There are other variations from Croatia, Serbia and Hungary to name a few.
- 2 egg yolks + 1 Tbs. water for egg wash
- 5 cups flour
- 200 grams butter softened
- 1 cup canola oil
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp nigella seeds for sprinkling*
*you can substitute poppy seeds for nigella seeds or also toasted sesame seeds.
- 3/4 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 2 Tbs parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine all filling ingredients in a bowl and set aside
- In a small bowl, beat egg yolks with 1 Tbs. of water. Set aside. You will use this to brush the pogacas before baking.
- Place all dough ingredients in a wide and deep bowl, Mix thoroughly and knead with your hands until the dough is elastic, non sticky and smooth, Take a piece of dough that is approximately the size of an egg and flatten on the palm of your hand.
- Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of dough and close up like a half-moon.Make sure the edges are tightly pinched so no filling escapes during the baking process.
- Place the pogacas on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet (about 12 per sheet)
- Brush with egg wash.
- Sprinkle with nigella seeds and bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Yield: about 25-28 pogacas.