Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

Sunday, January 15, 2017

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. For the benefit of my readers, I am linking the examples so you too can learn what they are.

Main dish: Macaroni béchamel (example here)
Side dish: Torly (example here)
Dessert: Feteer 

I saw the MENA challenge list right after I came back from vacation and noticed both the savoury dish required meat. As we were on a self-imposed veg-only diet as a post-vacation recovering act, I could definitely not make a veg-only version of a meat dish! :-D So then, I am left with the dessert option - 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, lentils, and macaroni is on my must-try list ever since I saw it on Matters of the Belly blog.  The local and most popular bread Eish Masri is a thicker form of the pita but made from corn and is used as a utensil to scoop up dishes such as Fool medames which is another 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 has also travelled worldwide and so little needs to be told about Egyptian sweets! (read Umm Ali and Basbousa! :-P)  

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

Feteer or Feteer Meshaltet translates to "a cushion like pie" made of thin dough with liberal quantities of ghee or butter with or without stuffings. 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. 

When I started my research I realised the recipe is almost same across the internet with the method differing from rolling out rested dough with a rolling pin and then greasing it and folding to resting the dough in oil and then using hands to stretch the dough to thinnest. The difference is also on the number of layers included. 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. Another common method is using just one big dough ball and stretching it across a huge table and 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...

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts
(I couldn't get any closer to show how the beautiful layers :-P)

Now, have I had Feteer? Yes! The week before I read the challenge I had picked one feteer from the bakery after our grocery shopping. I picked it because the name was very familiar (thanks to the food blog world) 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! :-) 

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 :-( Here is the image of my first attempt:

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

The second time I learnt from my mistakes and made smaller dough balls, made my own stuffing idea, refrigerated the parcel before spreading and baked in a pressure cooker. 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 actually gave me a mouth watering moment. :-P So here is how I made Feteer Meshaltet:

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

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 it is shown in videos. Adapted the basic recipe of Cairo Kitchen. Makes two 6 inch feteer. The images are showcasing only one Feteer cut into pieces. 

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
~1/2 cup water
Sunflower oil for resting dough (enough to coat and stay soaked)*
1 to 2 tablespoons solid ghee
Oil to grease the workspace and hand

Almond Pine Nut Mixture
2 tablespoon Almonds
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 teaspoon sugar

METHOD

Almond Pine Nut Mixture


Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts


  1. Prepare the nuts mixture by blending the ingredients until its power form. Take care not to blend too long as it these nuts release oil under too much pressure. 
Dough
  1. Mix together the flour, salt and the sugar. 
  2. Add cold water and use a spatula to mix well and bring the flour together 
  3. 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 sticking to your hand)
  4. Divide the dough into six equal pieces and shape each one into a smooth ball. 
  5. Grease a bowl or tray liberally with sunflower oil and place the dough balls in it ensuring each dough ball is well coated with oil. (you can flip the dough balls in the oil for uniform coating) Then pour some more oil so there is a thin layer of oil underneath each dough balls
  6. Cover with clingfilm and leave the dough to rest in a cool place for 15 to 20 minutes.
Folding Feteer


Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

  1. 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 paper thin, almost transparent disc. 
  2. Spread some ghee all over the surface of the pastry and add a tablespoon of nuts mixture in the centre of the sheet
  3. Fold the sheet in from all four sides to form a square and keep it aside
  4. Oil the work surface again, take a second piece of dough and push it out with both your hands into a disc as thin as it can get 
  5. Spread ghee, place the first dough parcel in the middle of this disc and spread some more nuts mixture over the parcel 
  6. Wrap over the four sides of the disc to completely encase the first parcel and keep aside.
  7. Oil the surface again and roll out the third piece of dough to a disc 
  8. Spread some ghee, place the dough parcel in the middle and fold over the four sides to completely encase the parcel. 
  9. Keep this parcel covered and in the fridge for 20 minutes
  10. Repeat this rolling, folding and wrapping with the remaining three pieces of dough and refrigerate
Baking Feteer


Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

  1. Keep a comal or a flat cast iron pan on the burner and on top of this keep your pressure cooker
  2. Preheat for 20 minutes on low to medium flame until the dough parcel is ready to be out of the fridge
  3. Grease a small pan of any shape with ghee and place one of the dough parcels in the middle of the pan
  4. Use your fingertips to push and spread the dough out so that it fills the tin to the edges. 
  5. Place the pan inside the cooker and close. Do not put on the regulator or weight
  6. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, then open the lid and carefully flip the pastry over and cook the other side for another 5 minutes or so until crisp and golden. 
  7. Remove, cut into bite size and serve with honey or jam and cream whatever you fancy! 
Egyptian Feteer Meshaltet with Almond and Pine Nuts

Now check out what my fellow MENA Cooking Club members have to share!

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