Briouats are Morocco's version of the Indian samosa, Turkish borek or the Lebanese fatayer. In these cultures, there are an almost infinite variety of baked filo pastries, both savoury and sweet.
This was the first time I was making shaped pastries and I will admit it was a bit of learning. However, after the first 3-4 you get into the groove and your fingers learn how to fold these quite well. I will be making more of these shaped pastries both to learn how to work with filo pastry dough and also to try the numerous version of these pastries.
These pastries are delicately flavoured. The herbed eggs are moist and the subtle hint of saffron is perfect. Because they are baked, rather than fried, they are light and a lovely snack or appetizer. I did eat half the tray, but in my defence, it was my dinner.
This cookbook is so much more than a collection of recipes, but a history of a culture and its contribution to the cuisines of the world. The author has travelled extensively to research this cookbook, and this is evident in the introduction to the book and each recipe. Filled with historical notes and tidbits of information, I can sit and read this cookbook as a novel.
For more recipes from the amazing cookbook, click here.
3 tablespoons oil
2 small onions, finely diced
5 tablespoons parsley, minced
5 tablespoons cilantro, minced
A good pinch saffron
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt, to taste
A pinch of salt
Filo pastry, cut into strips that are 2 1/2 inches wide and 9 inches long
Butter or ghee
Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt till very smooth. Note: Adding salt to the eggs breaks down the albumin strands and the beaten eggs are no longer stringy. This is one of the secrets to perfect fluffy scrambled eggs.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan. Add the onions and cook on low heat for about 7 minutes till the onions are very soft and translucent. Do not let the onions get any colour.
Add the parsley, cilantro, saffron, pepper, cinnamon and salt and cook on low heat till the mix smells aromatic and the flavours are released by the oils.
Add the eggs and cook on a low flame continually stirring the pot so that the eggs scramble with a very small curdle. Cook till the eggs are done and there are no liquids remaining. If you leave the eggs moist they will ruin the filo pastry, and if they are very dry the briouat will not taste good. Remove from the heat and cool.
Lay a single sheet of the filo pastry on a clean dry surface. Add a tablespoon of the eggs to the bottom of the pastry. Fold the pastry starting at the right-hand corner and pulling it up to the far edge to create a triangle. The bottom of the pastry should line up neatly with the left side of the sheet. Fold the pastry again in neat corners moving along the length of the pastry till you have used all the pastry. You are looking for tight folds at each step. Fold and lay on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fold each pastry individually till the eggs are finished.
Brush the tops and bottoms of the pastries with butter.
Preheat the oven to 420°F.
Bake the pastries for 12-15 minutes till they are well browned. Place the briouats on a wire rack to cool a bit. Serve warm.
Some tips on making the Briouats:
Do not overstuff the filling, it makes the folding of the pastry clumsy and the pastries do not visually look great.
Fold the lines with military precision for a neat-looking pastry.
Work on a dry surface. Any water will ruin the pastry.