This month MENA Cooking Club is travelling to Tunisia and is hosted by my recent love Umm Hamza who blogs at Halal Home Cooking! We were given the following options and we can cook one, two or all three of them.
Appetizer: Brique a l'eouf
Main: Lablabi - chickpea soup
Dessert: Keber El Louz - Almond balls
Somehow I can't bring myself to make soups so the soup didn't really please me. The dessert though seemed easy, I couldn't think of a substitute for the food colours they used in it. The brik/brique was really calling me to make it. The simple ingredients and how creative you can get in making the stuffing won me. Before I left on a short vacation, I did extensive research on brik of Tunisia and bookmarked a few sites and also made a note of things to buy along with my usual groceries.
Tunisia is a North African country and Tunisian food is a blend of Arabic, Berber, European and Middle Eastern elements. I am sharing my take on the iconic Tunisian Brique a l'eouf or Brik which is a deep-fried filled pastry. Commonly this dish includes tuna, egg, onions, capers and parsley wrapped in Malsouka (which is the thin pastry sheet used for making the authentic Tunisian Brik).
While in Dubai, we went to the Global Village even though with a time crunch, I ensured we checked out the Tunisia house to get the taste of brik. Unfortunately, they did not serve brik, but I did manage to haggle and buy this plate! :-P
Every other website I referred had used tinned Tuna but they also stated that any meat can be used. As both F and I are not tuna fans, I opted minced chicken and spiced it up for our taste-buds. This can be made with any thin pastry sheets if Malsouka is not available. Here I have used Lumpia sheets which is similar to Chinese spring roll pastry sheets. You can get creative in jazzing up the filling but onions, egg and parsley seem to be primarily used in all types.
The taste of the brik depends on the stuffing and the pastry and how well it is fried. I made the filling with all of 400 grams of minced chicken, but I did only two briks as it has one whole egg in each which should suffice as a meal :-P The leftover filling was made into spring rolls :-) So this recipe yields 2 briks and 4 spring rolls. So here is how I made it.
Most referred and adapted from this video
INGREDIENTS:400 grams minced chicken
3 tablespoons of olive oil (divided)
Salt and pepper to taste
a few mint leaves (5 to 8)
1 medium onion diced finely
2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
2 green chillies chopped finely
a few capers - around 8 to 10 (optional)
a handful of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of Sumac (optional)
1 tablespoon of lemon juice for taste
1 cheese slice (optional, highly recommended)
Oil to fry in a pan big enough to fit the whole brik
Prepare the stuffing:
- Thaw the pastry sheet as per packet instructions and remove as many sheets you want and pack the rest back to the freezer. Cover and keep the sheets until needed.
- Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a deep pan and add the washed and drained minced chicken along with required salt and pepper.
- Add some mint leaves and cover to cook until all the moisture and water is gone. You will have to keep stirring once in a while as the minced meat tends to stick together as a big lump. So keep breaking it to resemble like crumbs.
- While the minced chicken is getting cooked, heat some olive oil in another pan and sauté the chopped onions, garlic and green chillies until the onions are translucent.
- Switch off and remove from heat. Then add some capers and chopped parsley.
- Add this mixture into the cooked minced chicken and mix well
- Sprinkle sumac and squeeze in some lemon juice.
- Do a taste test and let the stuffing mixture cool before you start assembling.
Assemble and Fry
Once stuffed, there cannot be any delay in sliding in the brik into the hot oil. Any delay will make the pastry sheet soggy and it will be a mess.
- Add oil in a frying pan and let it get hot
- Depending on the size of the pastry sheet, add the stuffing in the centre and make a well in the middle. Alternatively, you can add the stuffing in a circular manner so that you have the centre empty where you will drop open an egg.
- Tear the cheese slices into small pieces and place a few pieces of cheese on the filling
- Hold one corner/end of the pastry and join the other corner and quickly and gently slide it into the hot oil.
- Use a slotted spoon to seal the sides of the brik and spread some oil on top of the brik.
- Use two slotted spoons or a thong and turn the brik to fry the other side.
- Remove from oil and leave on a kitchen tissue to drain the excess oil.
- The Brik gets done in less than a minute as ideally Tunisian Brik has runny egg. Now, if you want the egg well done, then fry it for few more seconds and then remove it.
- Serve hot
Note: If you are using shredded cheese, then mix the cheese into the filling just before you start assembling. I had only cheese slices and wanted to ensure each brik had a good share of cheese, so made it an effort to tear and place them. :-)
I must share what I found all over the internet about a Tunisian Tradition on Brik: "The Tunisian tradition is that the bride-to-be's mother makes a brik for the potential bridegroom. If the bridegroom eats it without spilling the egg yolk, he may marry the bride." I tweaked this a little bit and narrated to F that a good daughter-in-law makes a runny egg brik! :-D
Though this is an appetizer, we had it for late lunch on a Saturday followed with a couple of spring rolls too :-P This is one dish I am sure I will be making again especially during weekends for breakfast!
Would you believe if I said this is my first time working with pastry sheets? :-P
Check out what fellow blogger's cooked this time: