The Amazing Hummus Boureka


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It’s hard to describe just how many bourekas I have both seen and eaten here, in Israel. They can be found at coffee shops, mini-markets, supermarkets, in the mall, on breakfast buffets in even the finest hotels, small take-out kiosks, and of course at bakeries all over the country.  They are a great food for almost any time – quick breakfast, mid-morning snack, with salad or soup at lunch, as an addition to Shabbat lunch or to hand the kids when they’re famished and you’re on the go.


Bourekas (also “burekas”) are right up there with Israeli and Middle Eastern classics such as hummus, chopped salad, falafel, schwarma, and schnitzel in my book.   Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with stuffed dough, especially dough that is light and flaky, rich (but not too oily) and oozing with warm and savory filling.



And bourekas are largely savory.  While you can find a sweet cheese or apple boureka amongst the crowd, the vast majority of them are potato, potato & olive, mushroom, cheese, and spinach to name a few – here, in Israel, anyway.  Bourekas are also a staple throughout the Middles East, Greece and the Balkans.  Occasionally you’ll find a meat (usually ground beef) boureka here, but there are so many other types of stuffed dumplings and kube around, most of the bourekas you’ll find will be either dairy or parve.


If you’re buying in a bakery, each place tends to assign a particular shape to a type of filling, so you’ll know that the small rectangular one is always potato or the triangular one is always spinach.  It’s good to find a place you’re partial to and get to know which ones you like and their shape.  But beware this system is NOT universal between stores – only the idea of it is.


Another version of a boureka that you can find all over Israel is a version of a breakfast (or lunch) sandwich made from a boureka (with various names such as Iraqui breakfast or sambusa). In this case, a potato boureka is also stuffed with hard boiled eggs, tehina, and pickles.  It’s an interesting combination that I personally haven’t gotten totally used to, despite liking all those flavor profiles separately.  But I think it’s worth trying, if you’re looking for something different for breakfast.


So, here is my list of where I go for bourekas and one in particular that is a must have when you are next in Jerusalem:


Marzipan Bakery  Marzipan makes a kashkaval cheese boureka that I find completely addicting.  The cheese is almost melted into the boureka instead of existing as a separate filling.  It’s nutty and slightly salty and the texture is more biscuit than boureka and I can’t stop eating them.  This particular boureka is round and covered in black sesame seeds if you happen to go. 


Aroma  Aroma is a constant stop for me.  I often get my morning coffee there after dropping the kids off from school or stop en route to Ulpan .  And while I know that I should eat breakfast at home, my love for stuffed pastries overcomes me and I order Aroma’s spinach bourekas which come two to an order and are larger than most.  Sometimes, I’ll share, but since no one in my family really likes spinach I’m often forced to eat them all by myself.  Damn.


Neeman on Emek Refaim  Neeman is a family favorite.  First, my husband must have some of their poppy seed cake for breakfast almost daily (which I have to admit is unbelievably good).  I sometimes buy challot there on Friday, which are dense and doughy and sweet, which is my particular preference in challah.  But Neeman (not rival brother’s Neeman Bros.) has a good deal in the morning, with 3 bourekas and coffee for around $5.  Their potato bourekas are a favorite of the boys’ and after I got over the initial shock of biting into it, Neeman actually makes a boureka that has a chopped vegetable stuffing akin to an eggroll that is pretty darn tasty (a good case in point as to why you should remember the shapes of the burekas you like).


Burekas Ima – But the best, and I mean the absolute best boureka I have had in Israel, hands down, bar non – was the hummus boureka that came from Burekas Ima in Talpiot.  When I bit into it, it was a complete surprise and revelation.  As I was there one afternoon buying an assortment of other bourekas and cookies and bread, I finally decided to try of their hummus bourekas which I had seen around the shop.  This one is a slight variation on the classic burkea given that the bureka is made from more of a pita dough than a pastry dough but I was a little wary, because I couldn’t envision of hummus inside of a boureka that wasn’t going to be pasty.  But one bite of this boureka was a revelatory food moment for me.  This particular boureka is folded into a half-moon probably about 8” across and clearly fried.  When you bite into it the dough is has a slightly sweet note to it and the warm flavors of chick peas and onions and cumin and tumeric all merged into an aromatic blend that was Middle-Eastern in nature, but understated just enough to not overwhelm the palate.  And because I was really hungry the morning I ate it, I went back the next day for another to make sure that I really had tasted something that good.  And again, I couldn’t get over it.  I’ve been back several more times since and hopefully will get the recipe before I leave.  Otherwise,  I’ll be spending a lot of time back in DC trying to replicate this item in my own kitchen.



Let me say for the record, too – that Burekas Ima makes the most amazing sweet challah that I’ve tasted in Jerusalem and it will be hard to give it up when we go.  And finally, the bourekas at Burekas Ima are all more than worthy.  It’s nearly criminal to go in there without buying a boxful.  Burekas Ima on Rivka Street in Talpiot (in a tiny parking lot, right near the Domino’s pizza) – is calling your name.


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