Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Borag, bereg, boreg...they all spell delicious!

Nothing Armenian is ever simple.

No matter the dish, the pronunciation as well as the recipe will vary depending on the chef's regional roots. In the case of cheese borags (or boregsberegs, or boeregs...), there's also a question of where they belong on the menu.

For most Armenians, cheese borags are a savory appetizer. But for some, they're sprinkled with sugar and served for dessert.

The good news is that this is a delicious dilemma with no wrong choice.

These days, variations in the recipe also hinge on what cheeses are available. We use cheeses that were unheard of in the Old Country for two reasons: 1) We're not usually up at dawn making Armenian cheese, as our grandmothers were. 2) We like them.

Once you learn the technique, you can fold-in almost anything you want. We've included a spinach-and-cheese filling recipe below. Or you can skip the cheese and try meat with onions, another popular choice.

The following recipe was handed down from my brother-in-law’s mother, Nartouhe Hourdajian.

Traditional Cheese Borags
Yield: approx. 30 appetizers

8 - oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (Muenster cheese can also be used)
1 - 15 oz. container ricotta cheese
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 egg, slightly beaten

1- 1 lb. pkg. Fillo dough, thawed

Melted butter, about 1/2 stick

Filling Directions:

1. In a bowl, combine the Monterey Jack, ricotta, and feta cheeses with the beaten egg, blending well.
2. Set aside.

Fillo dough Preparation:

Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before using.
Once fillo dough is exposed to air, it dries out very quickly, becomes brittle, and is impossible to use. Be sure to have plastic wrap and a damp towel ready to cover the dough to keep it pliable while you fold the borags.

Folding the Borags:

1. Cut the fillo dough in half, lengthwise. Use one half sheet for each borag. Cover the other sheets first with plastic wrap, then the damp towel, while folding each borag.
2. Fold each half sheet in half lengthwise. Brush surface with melted butter.
3. For each borag, place a spoonful of filling at the end of the folded dough that’s closest to you. Begin folding, as though you were folding a flag - on the diagonal from corner to corner, creating a triangular shape. If there is extra dough at the top, just trim it off or tuck it under.
4. Continue to do this until you run out of filling - or dough.
5. Keep the folded borags covered with plastic wrap.

NOTE: At this point, you can prepare the borags for freezing by placing them in a plastic container large enough to hold the amount you are preparing, making sure you use plastic wrap or waxed paper between each stacked layer to prevent the borags from sticking together. Cover
tightly with the lid, label, date, & freeze.

Baking the Borags:
1. Melt about ½ stick of butter.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
3. Brush the top of each borag with melted butter.
4. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

What do you do with leftover fillo dough? Return it to it’s original wrapper, seal it tightly, and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Leftover cheese filling can be spread on bread then heated under the broiler. There’s raw egg in the mixture, so cook before eating!

Cheese Borag Bites

1.Use the same cheese filling as above.

NOTE: Instead of using regular fillo dough sheets, use prepared mini-fillo cups (sold in packages of 15). They can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores.

2. Fill each cup almost to the top with the filling. The amount of cheese filling given in this recipe will fill about 3 boxes of the mini-fillo cups - about 45.
3. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 - 12 minutes.

Variation: Spinach Borags

  • 1- 10 oz. pkgs. Frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ lb. cottage cheese, drained
  • ¼ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chopped scallions
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
Combine all of the ingredients thoroughly.
Follow the steps above for filling and baking the borags.


  1. Like the new video. And the red pepper paste entry from today, Robyn. Keep up the good work. ~Ron

  2. You make it look easy! How can it be so easy and taste so good?

  3. looks easy i found this recipe online for SOU-BERAG its a moc verson of the regular boreg. its got the same filling as the boreg but made with lasagna noodles. i tried out the recipe for the first time and did everything it called for but the noddles came out dry and they slightly burned on the bottom. is there any other kind of noddles that might work better. my mom is the expert when it comes to Armenian cooking. her only suggestion was to try it with egg noddles. has anyone made this version before?

  4. Use no bake flat lasagna noodles and soak in warm water twenty minutes before using........

  5. Robyn,
    I love your Armenian filigreed apron. Can you tell us where you got it?
    Thank you for the video.

    1. Others have asked me the same question... I bought the apron, matching tablecloth and oven mits at a food festival at St. David Armenian Church in Boca Raton, FL - YEARS ago. I'm afraid I have no idea where these came from as there are no tags on any of the items. Sorry!

  6. I absolutely loved looking at all your recipes, they remind me so much of my grandmother spending all day in the kitchen. I'm going to make this boreg recipe and surprise my baba! Shenorhagalem :)

  7. My Grandma, Hermine Macktarian, used to make something that we called Borag but it must be something else because it does not use dough. It is layered egg noodles, cottage cheese, muenster cheese, eggs and butter (in that order). We have always called it Borag but it must be another Armenian dish. Are you familiar with it? She also taught us how to make DELICIOUS Chorag!! Thanks

  8. @ aamtaw@yahoo.com what you were eating is souboreg, or otherwise known as "fake" or easier way of making boureg.

    @Robyn i didn't see the apron, but the prelacy bookstore use to sell an entire line of linens that had a filigree pattern with the alphabet. it is predominantly blue. they had napkins, aprons, tablecloths...all sort of things. i haven't seen them advertise it lately, but they may still be able to get it or tell you how to,

  9. ooops, boy do i feel silly, you are wearing the apron in the site picture....i thought it may have been on a video that i hadn't seen. the one i am talking about is different but similar and is very attractive, if anyone is looking for a nice armenian apron or linens, i recommend it if it is still available....i bought a ton for myself and to give as gifts and everyone loved it.

  10. Yum Yum Yum! Thinking about making dozens and dozens of them..... have not made them but 1 time since my Mom died

  11. Just to clarify, there is nothing "fake" about real souberag. My grandmother would make the pan-sized noodles herself, rolling them out thin as paper with a rolling pin like a broomstick. Then very fast dipping in boiling water with a huge soup ladle, then they went in the pan. Layer with butter on each paper thin noodle and borag filling goes into a couple of layers. Baked, the most delicious thing in the world, with top layers crispy and buttery. "Mock" souberag is made with lasagna noodles.