Filo cigars filled with feta, parsley, mint and dill

Ghillie Basan

These classic cigar-shaped pastries, cigari böregi, make popular snack and meze food. Almost every restaurant and household prepares them regularly, as they are devoured in quantity, writes Ghillie Başan.

Serves

3-4



Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz feta cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • A small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of dill, finely chopped
  • A small bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 4-5 sheets of filo pastry
  • A bowl of water and pastry brush
  • Sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • Dill fronds for garnishing (optional)

Method

Other popular fillings include aromatic minced meat, baked aubergine and cheese, or mashed pumpkin, cheese and dill. The filo pastry can be shaped into triangles, but the cheese and herb filled cigars are the most traditional. The cigars can be prepared in advance and kept under a damp dishtowel in the refrigerator, until you are ready to fry them at the last minute. Serve the cigars as a snack, a hot meze dish, or as nibbles with a drink.

  • In a bowl, mash the feta with a fork. Beat in the egg and fold in the herbs.
  • Place the sheets of filo under a damp dishtowel to keep them moist and work with one at a time. Cut the sheets into strips, roughly 4-5 inches wide, and pile them on top of each other.
  • Lay one strip on the surface in front of you. Place a heaped teaspoon of the cheese filling along one end. Roll the end over the filling, quite tightly to keep it in place, then tuck in the edges to seal in the filling, and continue to roll until you get to the other end. Just as you reach the end, brush the tip with a little water to help seal the filo, so it doesn’t unravel on cooking. Place the filled cigar on plate under a damp tea towel to keep it moist and continue with the remaining sheets of filo.
  • In a deep-sided pan, heat enough oil for deep-frying. Fry the filo cigars in batches, until crisp and golden brown. Lift them out of the oil and drain on kitchen paper. Serve immediately, garnished with dill fronds, if you like.
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