I have no idea how to write about them. Every time I think about chebureks, the only words that come to my mind — “They are so good!”
Chebureki belong to Crimean Tatars cuisine and are a popular street food everywhere where Crimean Tatar diasporas are. They are half moon shaped deep-fried pies. Turkic peoples fill them with lamb or beef. Caucasian recipes often feature fresh herbs and cheese. Because chebureks are thin, they are cooked quickly. Eat them soon after cooking. Every bite should be crispy and juicy at the same time. So good! With a glass of red wine — even better!
You want an easy bite — no laborious teeth-tearing or chewing the dough. Choose all-purpose flour with lower gluten content than in bread flour. Using boiling water reduces gluten development in the dough. By adding boiling water to flour, you cook (or denature) the proteins. Thus, the dough made with hot water is less elastic, and it is less chewy when cooked. Adding alcohol reduces the level dough hydration for the same reason — to slower gluten development. It doesn’t matter what alcohol to use (could be vodka, gin, brandy, etc.) as long as it’s about 40%. It will quickly evaporate during deep frying, leaving a faint trace of its flavor. Flavorless vodka is preferred.
You want a thin layer of stuffing — don’t be greedy! The raw stuffing needs to be cooked quickly, and its moisture shouldn’t destroy the crispiness of the shell.
You need at least 2″ of frying oil and you have to watch its temperature. Use thermometer and control the heat. Bring the oil up to 370-375F before cooking every next batch of chebureks. Once they are in, the oil temperature drops. Make sure it comes to 350F as soon as possible, and after that you need keep it constant for the next 4-5 minutes.
Prepare paper towels and cooling rack to rest hot chebureks before eating.
The recipes below are not strictly authentic. There are variations and personal preferences. Adjust stuffings’ proportions and ingredients to your taste, be creative. Enjoy!
Servings: 6 pies
- 200 g wheat flour all-purpose
- 100 g water boiling, 208F
- 5 g kosher salt
- 25 g vodka
for lamb stuffing (6 portions)
- 240 g lamb chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro chopped
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 2 green chili peppers diced
- 3 tbsp onion diced
- 1 tsp kosher salt adjust to your taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
for herbs and cheese stuffing (6 portions)
- 1 bunch chives chopped
- 1 bunch parsley chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro chopped
- 10 basil leaves chopped
- 3 sprigs tarragon chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt adjust to your taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 60 g Feta cheese crumbled
In a bowl, measure flour. Dissolve salt in boiling water, add alcohol, and pour into the bowl with flour all at once. Using chopsticks, quickly mix flour and water to resemble crumbs. Knead the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Cooking maniacs hand chop meat and herbs. Normal busy home cooks are allowed to use food processor. Rinse herbs, remove bones from the meat, etc. before chopping or processing.
Stuffings can be mixed in advance and refrigerated for up to 6 hours.
for shaping and cooking
The best vessel for frying chebureks at home is 12" in diameter or larger, deep saute pan with heavy bottom. Pour about 2" of oil and heat to 370-375F.
If your dough was refrigerated, bring it to room temperature. Remove the wrap, and divide the dough to 6 portions. Keep them covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying.
Dust working surface with flour. Roll each portion into a 1/8" thin round. Spread 2-3 tbsp of stuffing on one half, stopping about a 1/4" from the edge. Repeat for all portions.
Fold the other half over the top and crimp edges with a fork to seal the stuffing. Repeat for all portions.
Fry 2-3 chebureks at a time, about 2 minutes on each side, until golden-brown and crispy.
Place cooked chebureks on paper towels for 1 minute to remove extra oil. Rest them on a cooling rack before serving. If you cook more than 3 batches, rest chebureks in warm oven. They have to be served medium hot.