Pilavuna with Hellim, Mint and Sumac

Pilavuna are savoury Turkish pastries, traditionally filled with dried mint and hellim cheese, bursting with cheesy goodness from a crispy sesame parcel. They are simple to make with a basic dough and great fun to fill and shape - the more rustic the better! They can be eaten any time of day, as breakfast, a light lunch or snack. I love them fresh from the oven, still warm and cheesy and dipped in honey but they also taste amazing with a squeeze of lemon.

Makes 10-12


For the dough:

500g plain flour

1 tsp fine sea salt

1 tsp caster sugar

7g dried fast action yeast

300ml warm water

For the filling:

250g hellim cheese, finely grated

250g cheddar cheese, finely grated

250g feta, crumbled

1 tbsp dried mint

1 tsp sumac

1 lemon, zested and sliced into wedges

50g sultanas, optional

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

100g sesame seeds

1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large mixig bowl. Slowly pour in the water while mixing to form a shaggy dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough forms.

  2. Wipe the bowl out with any crumbs and lightly oil. Place the ball of dough in, cover with cling film and leave to rise for 45 mins-1 hour until doubled in size, light and pillowy.

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

  4. Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 6. Prepare a plate with the sesame seeds mixed with 1tbsp water.

  5. Turn the dough out onto a surface, trying to use as little flour to dust the surface as possible. Knead for a couple minutes to knock the air out. Divide into 10 equal sized pieces, weighing around 80g. Place the dough balls to one side covered with a tea towel while you work with one ball at a time.

  6. Roll the balls into a rough triangle shape and transfer to the plate of sesame seeds to stick all to one side. Return to the work surface, seeded side down and place 2tbsp of filling in the centre. Fold over each edge of the triangle, covering part of the filling but leaving the centre exposed. Trim any excess dough from the corners so you have a sealed triangular parcel.

  7. Repeat with the remaining dough balls and carefully transfer each one to 2 baking trays lined with greaseproof paper. Leave enough space between each one to allow them to rise again. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

  8. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and brush all over the 3 edges of dough that are folded over the filling.

  9. Place on the top shelf of the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes until risen, crispy and golden brown all over. Leave to set for 5 minutes before serving warm with the lemon wedges.