Saturday, 20 July 2013

Passing the baton

Börek Batons

We line up to buy the börek in front of the Turkish kiosk in Queen Victoria Market . This is one place in orderly, monochronic Melbourne where shopkeepers don’t do just the one thing at a time and customers don’t line up in a single file, forgetting to observe their unspoken code of personal and public space.

And so naturally, this is that one place that even I have no qualms in pushing my way through or egging the girls to go forward edging out people pushing past you and jumping the queue.

Why? Well, if you tarry out of politeness, you lose your turn grabbing the hot batons called böreks. They hardly ever stay on the bain-marie on the counter, what with people swarming like feeding fish (piranhas?) around it the minute a batch comes out of the oven…

Are these böreks so good then?

Well, they are OK… could do with a little more salt – perhaps some more spice. The garlic is too overpowering and the parsley could have been chopped finer. Could do with a little mint? No nigella seeds…

“Well, why don’t you make them at home then? Wow! Look at that – this is such an enviable business, where they have to send away people or make them wait”, says the husband. “This is the kind of business one should have!”

I look at him a little alarmed – do I detect more admiration loaded on to the second sentence? Was the first remark, incidental, or - a way to shut me up?

But maybe not – let me not be so petty, possessive… “I can, and will make this at home, and much much better”, I mutter…

But all this while, the words of Patrick, our advisor ring in my ears.

“Once an entrepreneur, always an entrepreneur”, says Pat every time we see him and he asks us what we are up to. “And you don’t have to spend a decade with a business like you did with your last, you’re so imaginative – you can be a serial entrepreneur!”

Why does this seem like getting a suggestion – or blessing- to become a serial k-er-entrepreneur?

But he is right, I think. It may not be so bad. In fact, I quite fancy that role of an entrepreneur who continuously conjures up new ideas to start a new business.

Moreover, at this stage in my life, if I could start up an innovative project and give it away to someone to manage, I would be happy (and relieved) to hand over the baton to someone else and move on to a new idea and a new venture. I will also be sharing my knowledge and skills with others and learning from them.

On a selfish note, how else will I be able to manage and see to fruition all my brainwaves and idea-sprouts as well as people’s unsolicited/solicited suggestions? – an iconoclastic gourmet Indian restaurant that serves more than the regulation paneer and makhni types, a puranpoli by order business, a daily dubba business, a food van that sets up shop every day at a different venue, a typical Maharashtrian घरगुती खानावळ (home made food restaurant) , a bhajjia/pakora kiosk that pops up on the corner of Lonsdale Street when it rains, corporate training events like cookery for teambuilding…

The ideas keep streaming, seamless… then reason, that spoilsport devil in an advocate’s robe robs me of the momentary pleasure of daydreaming…

Why, oh why remind me of the ungodly hours of sheer hard labour, the possibility of the resurgence of my frozen shoulder, the growing stiffness in my weather weary bones on cold mornings, the pilferage by helpers, the …and uncountable other immitigable menaces that defy any risk assessment and management…


Oh well, perhaps I should start a business that selling such ideas only…

Before Beelzebub in black peers over my shoulder, let me finish telling you about the absolutely delish turkish böreks I made the other day.

Make these böreks at home, and tell me if they weren’t better than the VicMarket ones.

Keep passing the baton…

Börek Batons

For the filling

4 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed
1 medium Spanish onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp garlic, finely minced
4 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped mint
½ cup feta crumbled cheese
1 tsp crushed red chilli
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper to taste


Heat a pan and add the olive oil and butter. Add the sliced onions and sauté for a minute. Add the garlic and sauté a little more. Now add the mashed potatoes and cook for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Check and adjust the taste. Set aside to cool.

For the pastry

3 cups plain flour, sifted
1 tsp (7g/1 sachet) dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2-3 tsp nigella seeds
1 egg
2 tbs olive oil


In a bowl, mix the sugar and warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on the surface and a keep covered in a warm place for about 10 minutes.  Combine flour and salt in another bowl. Make a well in the centre, then add the yeast water and break an egg into the flour. Mix well and knead into a dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Brush a bowl with oil and place the dough in the bowl and lightly coat with oil. Cover with a damp tea towel or cling film. Set aside in a warm place for about 40 mins to an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch the dough back once and keep for some more time till it has risen again.

Divide the dough into four portions. Sprinkle the nigella seeds on the rolling surface and roll out into thin rectangles and cut each rectangle into half, making two rectangles. Place the filling in the centre of each rectangle and fold it over, in a roll or baton shape, making sure the edges overlap. Pinch the ends together.

Place these rolled börek batons, edges down and gently dab a pastry brush dipped in milk or egg on the surface.  

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven.

Cook for 8-10 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

Serve hot.

Remember - hot is what sells!

1 comment:

  1. I liked this quick breakfast food when I tried it in Istanbul a couple of months ago. The borec place had several varieties to choose from -- plain (sade), potato (patatasli), mincemeat (keemali), cheese (peynirli) and spinach (spanakli), or you could order a mixed plate. I thought of it as a savory baklava.


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