Feteer Meshaltet recipe for two bread that I stuffed with a sweet mixture of almonds and pine nuts.
MENA Cooking Club is back after a month's break and what a great way to start 2017 with a dish from the land of Pyramids - Egypt. Like every time we were given three options and we could make one or all three dishes.
- Main dish: Macaroni béchamel
- Side dish: Torly
- Dessert: Feteer
A little about Egyptian cuisine will just add some charm to this post! So, from what I read, Egyptian cuisine largely includes vegetables and fruits which form a base for most of their meat dishes too.
Kushari, the national dish of Egypt which is a mixture of rice, lentil, and macaroni is on must-try. The local popular bread Eish Masri is a thicker form of the pita made using corn. It is used as a utensil to scoop up dishes such as Fool medames, a popular dip made with mashed fava beans. While I am yet to make all those dishes, I do have the recipe for Baba Ganoush and Molokhia Chicken Stew which are also a big part of Egyptian cuisine.
Being a popular tourist destination, their desserts have also travelled worldwide, so little needs to be told about Egyptian sweets! Must have heard Umm Ali and Basbousa! 😛
Feteer or Feteer Meshaltet translates to "a cushion-like pie" made of thin dough with liberal quantities of ghee or butter with or without stuffing. As the stuffing can be sweet or savoury, there is no end to possibilities. The plain feteer is usually served with a selection of icing sugar, cream, molasses, honey or tahini along with some tea.
Now, have I had Feteer? Yes! The week before I read the challenge, I picked one feteer from the bakery after our grocery shopping. But I was not too happy because it was so greasy and bland. It was not fresh and it was a packed one which may be the reason I quite did not favour it. And top it all, I had no idea it had to be had with some cream or jam. Yet, I chose to make this because the internet versions looked more promising! 🙂
- oil and ghee
- almonds and pine nuts
I realised that Feteer meshaltet ingredients is almost the same across the recipes but the method of making the bread differed in a few aspects.
- Some used rolling pin while some used hands to spread the dough. I vote for hands.
- Some had up to six parcels to make one feteer; where one parcel constitutes a stretched-out dough liberally greased with ghee and folded to form a square.
- Some used one big dough ball and stretched it across a huge table. Folding it over and over again to make layers and form a thick pie.
You have to choose the method that is your kitchen friendly. Read more to avoid the mistakes I made...
Mistakes to avoid
My first attempt was a major flop. I went wrong in gauging the dough ball size for my workspace. I did not realise it could stretch so much so there was a lack of space causing it to have thicker edges and then clumsily folded. You cannot gather back a stretched dough! It was too late to take a step back so I went with the flow. I then chose to cook it in my cast iron pan which was not a bad idea. Yet, I was not happy with the outcome of the taste or the looks of it. It went into the trash the next day 🙁
The second time I learnt from my mistakes and made smaller dough balls and refrigerated the parcel before baking.
As Feteer is listed as dessert for the challenge, I chose to make it extra sweet! This one was a super-duper hit and my whole house was filled with the delicious aroma of almond, pine and all that ghee-filled layers... yum! that gave me a mouth-watering moment. 😛
How to make?
So here is how I made Feteer Meshaltet.
I have not given the exact measurement of oil as I used it straight from the bottle. But to be honest I have not been as liberal as is shown in all those videos. Makes two 6-inch feteer. The images are showcasing only one Feteer cut into pieces.
Prepare the nut mixture by processing almonds Pine nuts.
spread the well rested dough on a greased surface. Stuff and parcel with nut mix.
Place one parcel inside another dough spread. Repeat at least three times to make one feteer.
Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts
For the Dough
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ cup water approx
- cooking oil to coat the dough
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- Oil to grease the workspace and hand
For the Almond Pine Nut Mixture
- 2 tablespoons almonds
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 2 teaspoon sugar
Prepare the filling
- Grind the nuts with sugar into a coarse powder. Take care not to process too long as these nuts release oil under too much pressure.
Prepare the dough
- Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add cold water and use a spatula to mix well and bring the dough together. Take it out of the bowl onto a surface and use both your hands to knead until smooth for about 5 to 10 minutes. (We need soft and slightly sticky dough. Sticky but that releases without leaving any bits on your hand).
Divide and rest the dough
- Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape each one into a smooth ball. Grease a bowl or tray liberally with oil and place the dough balls in it. Ensure each dough ball is well coated with oil. Then pour some more oil so there is a thin layer of oil over the dough balls. Cover with clingfilm and leave the dough to rest in a cool place for 20 to 30 minutes.
- Grease the work surface (marble or a huge stainless steel plate like in the pics) with oil and, start to spread the dough out with your greased fingers until it becomes a paper-thin, almost transparent disc.
- Spread some ghee all over the surface of the pastry and add a tablespoon of nut mixture to the centre of the sheet.
- Fold the sheet in from all four sides to form a square and keep it aside.
- Oil the work surface again, take a second piece of dough and spread it out with both your hands into a disc as thin as it can get.
- Spread ghee, place the first dough parcel in the middle of this disc and spread some more nuts mixture over the parcel. Wrap over the four sides of the dough to completely encase the first parcel. Keep this aside.
- Oil the surface once again and roll out the third piece of dough as thin as possible.
- Spread some ghee, place the parcelled dough in the middle and fold over the four sides to completely encase the parcel. Keep this parcel covered and in the fridge for 20 minutes.
- Repeat this rolling, folding and wrapping with the remaining three pieces of dough and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Bake in oven
- Preheat your oven to the highest temperature. Grease a small round pan (4 to 6 inches) and place the chilled feteer parcel in the centre of the pan. Use your fingertips to push and spread the dough out to fill the edges or at least ¼ inch thick.
- Bake Feteer for 5 min on each side or until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Remove the baked Feteer and prepare the other two parcels similarly.
Cook on stovetop
- You can cook this on the stovetop in a shallow pan with oil. Fry on low to medium flame until golden brown and crispy. Flip and continue to fry both sides until cooked through.
- Serve Feteer Meshaltet with dips like cream, dates molasses, honey and tahini. You may dust with some icing sugar too.
Recipe inspired and adapted from Suzanne Zeidy's Cairo Kitchen. Read more about Feteer Meshaltet.