These little parcels stuffed with white cheese and sprinkled with nigella seeds are one of the most commonly made salty pastry treats in Turkish households. Most housewives don’t even require a precise recipe because they make this treat so often that they can almost whip this up blindfolded! Although a very common form of pastry, you may come across several different kinds of “poughwatchas” nonetheless. In any case, the dough will often be very similar but the filling may vary from minced meat to mashed potatoes. Broadly speaking, they do resemble empanadas, only we make them much smaller in size.

This recipe here is from a close friend of mine. She offered me some of these once when we had gathered after a long time of not seeing each other and I was just blown away with how good they were! Obviously I had tried many poughwatchas up until that day but these were simply THE BEST ONES ever!! 

So if the thought of the wonderful aroma of these parcels baking and the vision of biting into a salty and savory little parcel of perfectly baked flaky delicious pastry filled with partly melted cheese makes you sigh… then you should definitely give this recipe a try. 


(I use a cup that holds 250 ml of liquid)

  • 1 egg (+ one yolk for eggwash)
  • ¼ cup yoghurt (or sour cream)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 125 gr butter (½ cup + 1 tbsp) softened at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp salt + pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vinegar
  • 280 gr (about 2 cups) flour plus a couple of tbsps more as needed
  • 150 gr of white cheese (or feta cheese)
  • Nigella seeds and sesame seeds to sprinkle on top


Step by step method

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  1. Place the egg, yoghurt, olive oil, softened butter, salt, sugar, baking powder and vinegar in a large mixing bowl and beat lightly until all is well combined. (If you can’t wait for the butter to soften at room temperature just microwave on low for 15 to 30 seconds, repeat if needed). Add the flour gradually, starting with 1 ½ cups and blending it into the liquid mixture. Now continue with the remaining half cup of flour until you obtain a soft smooth dough, which should not be sticky. Depending on the size of your egg or differences in the type of flours used, you may need to use a little less or possibly just a little more flour than stated.
  2. When forming the dough it is important not to overwork it. You need only knead this dough until it comes together and forms a smooth but soft ball of dough. I prefer to prepare this kind of dough manually since this gives me full control of the process and I can feel the consistency of the dough with my hands. But you may go along with a stand mixer if you are accustomed to using one.
  3. Once ready, wrap dough with a large piece of plastic cling or place into a large ziplock bag and form into a disk. Leave to rest in the refrigerator overnight or at least 5 to 6 hours.
  4. The next day, take dough out and leave to rest for about 10-15 minutes at room temperature. Meanwhile grate the cheese or just crumble it up in a plate using a fork or with your fingertips. Make eggwash by whisking together 1 egg yolk, 1 teaspoon water plus 1 teaspoon olive oil and set aside. Line a tray with baking paper. Start heating your oven to 175 C (about 350 F). (Lower the temperature by about 10 to 15 degrees if using fan-forced oven.)
  5. Dust your counter with a little bit of flour and using a rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is almost 0,5 cm thin. Try not to use too much flour but lightly dust the surface of the dough to prevent it from sticking and breaking. Take a round cookie cutter of about 7-10 cm (about 3 to 4½ inches) in diameter and cut as many pieces as you can. Take a piece of dough and holding it in your palm, place about a half or one teaspoon full of cheese in the middle (depending on the size of cookie cutter you’re using). Now gently fold to form a crescent like shape and lightly press or pinch the edges together to seal the dough. You have to seal well to prevent any leakage of the cheese but also be gentle with the dough! Repeat until you use all the scrapings of dough after each turn.

  6. Place each parcel of dough on the tray leaving about 1-2 cm space in between. Then brush each one with eggwash and sprinkle with nigella seeds and sesame. You can use both or either one or opt for poppy seeds if you like. You can even leave them plain. This is totally up to you. But traditionally for Turks nigella seeds are a must on these cheese filled parcels. They add to the taste and aroma of this special treat.
  7. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Adjust the baking time according to your oven. Leave to cool in the tray. Serve preferably with a freshly brewed cup of tea.

Bon Appétit!