Ojaldres (glossary)

Ojaldre, the Ottoman-Sephardic savory pastry par excellence. © Janet Amateau.

Ojaldre, the Ottoman-Sephardic savory pastry par excellence. © Janet Amateau.

OJALDRES (“ōō- ZHÄL-dres”) – A specialty in the Ottoman-Sephardic tradition and particularly in Rhodes, these are small, triangular-shaped, savory pastries of a few layers of phyllo dough filled either with cheese and potato or ground beef and fresh herbs.   To make ojaldres is a labor of love and we generally reserve them for special occasions other than the major holidays, which have so many specific traditional foods associated with them. 

Hoja (oja in Ladino) and phyllo are the Spanish and Greek words, respectively, for leaf. As with the French mille feuilles (‘1,000 leaves,’ which in America is called a Napoleon), both describe  the distinctive characteristics of the pastry dough itself.

In modern Spanish, hojaldre (“ōHÄL-dre”) is the word for puff pastry. We tend to think of puff pastry as French, but the dough originated in Spain, where traditional bakeries make rustic puff pastries and cookies as they have for centuries. It’s also common to see the word applied to all variety of small sweet commericial cakes and cupcakes (think Hostess, Drake’s, Little Debbie).

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Ojaldres (glossary)

  1. Alexis

    My family, Turkish Jews, called these borekas and topped them with kashkaval cheese. love your blog! Totally going to make the matzo and meat pie this year.

    • Janet Amateau

      That’s interesting; ‘boreka’ generally refers to a small turnover made with a pie-dough pastry, not wafer thin filo. I’m wondering whether both kinds of dough were used in your family, and if the word was interchangeable between them?

    • LT

      My family, Turkish jews living in Rhodes, definitely made these with fila. Borecas are different, with a more traditional dough.

    • Janet Amateau

      I don’t know that I’d call boreka dough more traditional, LT, but you’re right about its being a different tradition. Borekas are made with what we think of as pie dough. Ojaldres and borekas are two different pastries in every way except the potential fillings, and really even where those are concerned there are distinctions.

  2. Robert Carlson

    Bourekas are traditionally made with a pastry dough of water, flour, oil, and salt. Bourekas can have meat and rice fillings or cheese and vegetable fillings. Ojaldres, are often filled with the same meat filling as bourekas. My family are also sephardic jews from Rhodes and Turkey. My family still makes Bourekas, ojaldres and all the sephardic food. They also still speak ladino (the main sephardic language)!

    muchos y buenos,
    Robert

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