Flija is a very special Kosovan dish, which is traditionally eaten on important occasions. If you're lucky enough to be invited into a Kosovan home (I have not but would love to be), and they cook you this then they are truly welcoming you into the fold. Not because they're flashing the cash, I spent £2.31 making this and it serves 10 easily so that's only £0.23 a head! This is special because cooking it via the conventional method takes upwards of five hours to make. I don't mean popping it in to cook and returning five hours later to a completed dish, I'm talking about five hours of constant slaving over it.
Flija is made by pouring thin layers of batter and cream in a pan and cooking each layer individually with metal lids called saçs which are topped with hot cinders. I wanted so desperately to try a flija, but I don't have the saç with which to make it and even if I did the prospect of being outside in England for five hours in January bent over a fire was not one I fancied. I watched a dozen videos on YouTube of Kosovans preparing their flija in the traditional way; then because I was with Cosmin and when we're together we always get side-tracked, he wanted me to watch a couple of videos showing how the Romanians bake bread in a similar-ish fashion. Before we knew it YouTube got a bit weird and we suddenly found ourselves watching a video of somebody covered in muck building something out of horse shit with their bare feet.
I eventually got back to thinking about how to solve the problem of the flija and as it turns out the solution was simple. A saç cooks the flija from above, I reasoned, and a grill (that's a broiler to the Americans) also cooks food from above. I went out on a limb, I tried grilling it and it worked! I have no idea if it tastes authentic having never tasted a traditional flija, but it tasted darn good.
Would I ever make it again? Only on a special occasion for special guests.
- 1 kg plain flour
- 700ml water (you may need slightly more)
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 200g butter
- 475ml sour cream
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT PER PORTION
- Calories | 568
- Fat | 23.4g
Serves | 10
Prep Time | 5 mins
Cooking Time | 3 hours
- Whisk together the flour and water, adding more water if need be in order to obtain a pouring consistency.
- Cube the butter and put in a saucepan with the cream and vegetable oil, gently heat stirring all the while until the butter has melted.
- Turn your grill (broiler) on to medium. Grease the bottom of a wide, shallow, metal, dish (I used a very shallow cast iron casserole dish) and ladle in a thin layer of the batter in a star shape. See diagram above. Place under the grill until browned and cooked through.
- Spoon a thin layer of the filling over the cooked star, fill the gaps with batter. Return to the grill and wait for it to brown.
- Grab a chair, a book, and a cup of tea because you'll be there a while repeating step four until your pancake pie reaches the top of your pan. Or you could do what I did whilst it was grilling and put a wash load in, nag your partner to put away the laundry, make a soup, do the washing up, make, drink three cups of tea (milk no sugar), take the bins out and post an in-progress video to instagram (we're @thetastetrail).
- Serve immediately with yoghurt, pickles, cheese and honey.
Based on a recipe found at www.puka.shqiperia.com