IRAQI BAKLAVA

July 31, 2016

Town festivities in Bavaria. A day of dancing, laughing and hearty food. The days leading up to the event I had the privilege to document two of the dishes prepared. You might wonder why the related recipes are Taboulé and Baklava and not some Bavarian sausage with Sauerkraut. The reason is that the city of Eschenbach in der Oberpfalz gained a bunch of lovely new residents. A group of Syrians and Iraqi found themselves a new home in this picturesque Bavarian town.

A group of enthusiastic locals formed the ‘Arbeitskreis Asyl’ a year ago and support them on their way to building a new life. The festivities this weekend were the perfect occasion to show off some of their culture – the most delicious aspect – their food! And believe me baking and cooking they can. They offered an unbelievable array of sweet and savory dishes. One more delicious than the other. Can’t wait to learn how to cook all of them.

But let’s start with the first. A mouthwatering Arabic favorite – the Baklava. Asel was nice enough to teach me how to create the sweetest treat of them all. The lesson was quite a party in itself. She and her family are so full of life. Smiling, laughing and serving more sweet cardamom tea. Constantly friends are coming and going – their door always open.

Thank you Asel for inviting me into your home and being patient with me for constantly asking about measurements. I know you only need your hands and your heart to cook. I still need a few guidelines to recreate this on my own ;)

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IRAQI BAKLAVA

  • 200g walnuts
  • 200g pistachios
  • ¾ cups ghee
  • ½ cup plant fat
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 50g sugar
  • 2 packages baklava sheets
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • pinch lemon flavor
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

_ grind walnuts and pistachios

_ combine walnuts, pistachios [keep about ⅓ for later], cardamom, cinnamon and 50g sugar [instead of sugar feel free to use syrup]

_ melt ghee and plant oil

_ find a baking tray that fits the size of the baklava sheets the closest

_ unwrap the baklava sheets

_ wrap baklava sheets in a moist cloth to keep the sheets from drying out and breaking

_ brush the baking tray with melted oil-ghee mixture [make sure to completely cover the surface]

_ place one baklava sheet flat into the tray

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_ brush with oil and place second baklava sheet on top [be generous with the oil]

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_ proceed the same way with another 8 to 13 layers [always brushing each sheet with oil]

[try not to trap too much air between the sheets]

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_ fold in the edges that stick out and cover all the edges in oil

_ spread nut mixture evenly on top [should be between 8 and 10mm high]

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_ cover with a baklava sheet

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_ proceed like with the base layer – layer about 10 sheets with oil in between [don’t put oil on top of the last sheet]

_ using a sharp knife cut baklava into equal pieces [make them rather small]

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_ preheat oven to 200°C

_ brush top layer with oil and place in the oven

_ bake for about 30 minutes

_ for the syrup combine water, sugar, lemon flavor and cardamom powder in a saucepan

_ bring to a slight simmer [stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves]

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_ remove from heat and leave to cool down to room temperature

_ take baklava out of the oven and pour syrup on top while still hot

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_ sprinkle with pistachios

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