Nostalgic Wedding Bourekas

Elon Amir
(HaBasta Restaurant)

2 hours

Makes 32 pastries

Mushroom bourekas on white plate with blue pattern

Photo by Dan Perez, Styling by Nurit Kariv

In the 1970s and 1980s, a new star burst into Israel’s wedding venues: bourekas filled with minced meat, probably inspired by a Turkish, Iraqi and North African tradition of serving meat bourekas at special events.
The iconic “wedding bourekas,” as they’re called, were served as a starter, with mushroom sauce poured on top with great ceremony.
The filling’s seasoning could tell you whose event it was — Polish hosts went for dill, Mizrahi Jews added plenty of paprika, and Moroccans sometimes used ras el hanout. In this updated version, the bourekas are stuffed with roasted and seasoned lamb offal but chicken offal can also be used.


1½ kg (3.3lb) puff pastry, preferably all-butter 

2 eggs, lightly beaten


For the filling:

Olive oil, for frying

1 large white onion, finely chopped

Approx. 1 kg (2.2lb) lamb offal (heart, spleen, 2 kidneys, hanger steak and ½ liver), trimmed

80 grams (2.8oz) lamb tallow, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons Moroccan paprika in oil

tablespoon ground cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 heaping teaspoon ground cumin

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

2 cups chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon lemon juice, or chopped preserved lemon


For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil or clarified butter

6 king trumpet mushroom, thickly sliced

4 Portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced

6 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

8 sage leaves

½ cup white wine

1½ cups beef stock

2 tablespoons butter

Salt, to taste

Black pepper, to taste

  1. Prepare the filling: heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and fry until golden. Set aside.
  2. Cut the heart, spleen, kidneys and hanger steak into 1-cm/ 0.4-in cubes. Cut the liver into 5mm/0.2-in cubes. 
  3. Melt the lamb tallow in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the diced offal in an even layer and fry for 30 seconds, until lightly seared. Add the fried onion, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, salt and pepper and mix well. Remove from the heat, add the chopped cilantro and lemon juice and mix well. Cool in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 5mm/0.2-in. Using a sharp knife, cut into 32 8cm/3-in squares.
  6. Place 16 squares in the baking tray about 2cm/0.8-in apart and brush with the beaten egg.
  7. Using a 5cm/2-in cookie cutter, cut out a circle in the center of the remaining squares. Arrange the holed squares over the squares in the tray to create a ‘nest’ and brush with beaten egg (the remaining dough circles can be baked for a quick snack).
  8. Place 2 generous tablespoons of the filling in each ‘nest’.
  9. Bake until the pastries are puffed and golden and the bottom part is dry, about 20 minutes.
  10. Prepare the sauce: heat a heavy skillet over a high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil (or clarified butter) and the mushrooms and fry for 3 minutes, until lightly seared. Add garlic and herbs, season with salt and pepper and for 30 seconds while stirring continuously. Add the wine and cook for 1 minute, until mostly evaporated. Stir in the beef stock, taste and adjust the seasoning to your taste.
  11. To serve: when ready to serve, reduce to a low heat, add the butter and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon just until the butter melts and the sauce thickens. Pour the sauce over the warm pastries and serve immediately.