The brilliance of boureka is that it can be adapted to any dietary need. For a dairy-free version, use oil instead of butter, and vegetables instead of cheese. If you need to make them ‘pareve’ (yiddish for containing no meat or dairy), use potatoes and eggs. Because of these religious dietary restrictions, laws were put in place in Israel regarding the shape of a boureka so that the dairy and meat-filled pastries wouldn’t be confused with vegetarian ones (via Haaretz). A triangular shape means the pastry contains dairy and square or rectangular is vegetarian.
Toppings can also hint at what’s inside. Many bourekas are topped with sesame seeds, but other toppings like nigella seeds or a combination of both are found too. Knowing what toppings represent which filling keeps hungry shoppers from pestering the server behind the counter, inquiring what’s inside (via Taste of Jew).
Bourekas are great on their own as a quick lunch, but are also served alongside other dishes like soup or salad. The savory pastries can be found in street carts all over Israel served with a hardboiled egg on the side, reports Haaretz. And in homes, the variations of filling and dough is entirely up to the mood and preference of the home chef.
Whether it’s a crispy spinach-filled phyllo wrapped pastry or a flaky cheese-filled puffed pie, savory bourekas are a handheld treat you should try.