It has been a week since my last post and it’s not because I haven’t cooked or baked. I just decided to take a week off from blogging to enjoy a little more “family” time than usual but I am back with these little filled buns called “Poğaça” (pronounced POH-gah-cha). I first made these about a couple of weeks back and, once again, I have to thank Finla because she was responsible for that in some measure.
She recently sent me a packet of Feta cheese along with all the other stuff. Feta cheese is something that is just beginning to make an appearance on store shelves here, but is usually so expensive that I haven’t so far been able to justify (to myself) the need to buy cheese at that price. Now I know there are many ways to eat Feta, most of them pretty simple enough but when you get to lay your hands on an ingredient that isn’t easily available you want to make something unusual and memorable with it. At least, that’s the way I think.
So instead of eating it with olive oil, or in a salad or a sandwich I was looking for a simple way to use it without the feta cheese-spinach combination which seems to be a universal favourite. Then I discovered the Poğaça, and then on delving into this further I found that this bread is made, and is known by different names, in many Mediterranean and Eastern European countries in one form or the other. Where it is called Poğaça, it seems to be different in each country!
So in Serbia, Croatia and some other Balkan countries, where it is sometimes also known as Farmers’ bread, Poğaça is a yeasted flatbread which sometimes is made with a filling. This Turkish version called Peynirli Poğaça are typically filled with feta cheese and parsley (the “peynir” refers to the cheese and is probably where the Indian “paneer” comes from). These Poğaça are small palm sized soft and fluffy savoury buns, topped with nigella/ sesame seeds and eaten for breakfast or as a snack with tea.
I believe there are other types of Poğaça made in Turkey, but this one seems to be the most popular (or well-known). Traditionally, fresh parsley is used in the filling but I didn’t have any on hand and used dried parsley instead. If you have fresh parsley, then do use that but in slightly smaller quantity.
If you cannot find Feta, you can use crumbled paneer or cottage cheese. Just remember to add a bit of salt to the filling and I would suggest that fresh home-made paneer is the best because it is creamier and moist and makes a lot of difference. You could also add a bit of chilli flakes to the filling to add a bit of “zing” to these buns.
The bread part of this bun is so good, that you could use this recipe with a filling of your choice. While that would no longer be Poğaça as the Turkish know it, but it would still be one very good filled/ stuffed savoury bun.