Vegetarian Delights of NYC -- Boreks

Herein begins a new series highlighting the city's best vegetarian dishes.

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Spinach borek at Gazala Place, along with a side of the marvelous smoky babaganoush, laked with green olive oil (click to enjoy).

The flaky pies variously called boureka, bureks, or boreks originated in Turkey and were transmitted across the Middle East and the Balkans by the Ottoman Empire several centuries ago. These pies take many forms, from the spare-tire shape of the outsize Albanian product, to the doughy turnovers of the Russians, to the Druse version pictured above.

Druse are an ethnic minority in Lebanon, and the Hell's Kitchen restaurant Gazala Place ably represents the cuisine, which includes dishes slightly different than you may have had in Middle Eastern restaurants before, with plenty of vegetarian choices on the menu. Their take on the borek, for example, is a humpy, bagel-shaped pastry with a crust much finer and flakier than filo -- it almost distintegrates upon touching it. Inside find a filling of crumbly white cheese and spinach, and the top of the pastry is nicely decorated with nigella seeds.

There's nothing quite like it in town, and it's not on the menu, but you can spot them on the counter next to the door as you come in. They're utterly delicious. 709 Ninth Avenue, 212-245-0709

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