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Rodesli Eggplant (aubergine), Onion & Tomato Bourekas

Bourekas de berenjena (handrajo)

About the Recipe

Sephardim from Rhodes Island have inherited from the Moorish Spanish and Ottoman culinary heritage a love for eggplants (aubergines).
It is not surprising that one of our favorite pie fillings is eggplant sautéed with onions, fresh tomato in olive oil and parsley, known in Ladino as handrajo.* This luscious filling is perfect for the ever popular savory pastry - bourekas, which are so easy to make. I like to shape the pies into sesame-studded triangles as a twist on tradition.
Serve these crisp hand pies with meltingly soft centers as a perfect snack or as a light meal accompanied with a green salad.


Eggplant (aubergine) filling (gomo de handrajo):

  • 3 medium-size eggplants (about 600g) peeled and diced

  • 1 tbsp salt

  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 cup finely chopped onion

  • 1 cup coarsely grated plum tomatoes or canned

  • 1 tsp tomato paste

  • 1 tsp sugar

  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

For the Dough:

  • ¼ cup frozen butter, grated

  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

  • 1 cup ice cold water

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour

  • ¼ tsp baking powder

  • 2 egg yolks mixed with 1 tbsp olive oil, for egg wash

  • 1 cup sesame seeds spread on a plate, for topping


1. Make filling (I like to make mine the day before): In a large bowl dissolve 1 tbsp salt in a bowl of water, add 1 tsp lemon juice. Immerse the diced eggplants and place a plate on top to keep them submerged. Soak for 30 minutes to remove the bitterness. Rinse under cold water, drain, then squeeze out excess moisture with paper towels.

2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring until softened. Toss in diced eggplant and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add fresh tomato, tomato paste, sugar and season with salt and pepper. Cook over a low heat for 30 minutes or until eggplant is soft, stirring from time to time. Allow to cool. Add the parsley and adjust the seasoning.

3. Prepare dough: Add the flour into a large bowl, grate the frozen butter into the flour and baking powder. Combine the oil, water and salt. Gradually stir in 1 cup of flour at a time, enough to make a soft, slightly oily dough. Knead briefly with your hands to a smooth dough. Do not over work the dough.

4. Chill dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.

6. To shape bourekas into triangles: Roll each ball of dough into 1oz (28g) balls and chill in the fridge. Work with a few balls of dough at a time keeping the remaining ones in the fridge.

7. Roll a few balls into circles with a rolling pin and place them on a plate of sesame seeds in small batches and transfer onto a work surface, sesame seed side down.

· Place 1tsp of filling in the center of each circle.

· Bring two sides together and pinch the dough to close it.

· Fold in the third side to close the boureka into a triangle, pinching the sides to seal the edges.

8. Transfer the pies onto the prepared baking trays, ½in (1.25cm) apart. Brush the pies with the egg wash.

9. Bake the bourekas for about 25 minutes rotating the baking pan halfway through until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer to wire racks to cool. Serve warm.

Kome kon gana as we say in Ladino… ENJOY

Stella’s Hints:

§ To freeze: interleave baked bourekas between layers of baking paper in an airtight container. To serve, defrost in the container, reheat in a preheated oven 375°F (190°C) for 15 minutes.

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