FOOD

Elda’s deliciously crispy Albanian Byrek

 

It is one thing to have lovely neighbours – very much a blessing in life. It is another thing all together when those lovely neighbours become wonderful friends, your children adore each other and they welcome you into their home to teach you how to make Albanian food!

My sweet friend, Griselda – Elda to me – opened her kitchen to chat to me about her Albanian experience in London, and of course, teach me how to make the buttery goodness that is Byrek. She also shared a little about food in her house…

Zainab: Tell us a bit about staple Albanian ingredients in the kitchen
Elda: Spinach definitely – we use that with meat or eggs, and of course our favourite byrek. Aubergine is also very popular. Potatoes too and meat – we all eat a lot of meat.

Zainab: Which is the meal of the day for you?
Elda: Lunch is our priority, this is when we prepare many dishes such as byrek, stuffed peppers. We eat a delicious soup before the main food. It is mainly a vegetable soup with a touch of meat. We also have a lot of salad, feta cheese – this is everywhere in Albania. It goes on everything!

Zainab: Are the meals very family oriented?
Elda: Absolutely – we all sit together as a family at the table for lunch. This is so important in our culture, but because we live abroad, we now do this family meal around what you call teatime – 5pm, so that we can still eat together as a family. Albanians will all relate to the fact that food brings our people together.

Zainab: Do you find your children eat what you eat or do you have separate food for babies?
Elda: Before they are one year old, I do make soup for them, but they gradually eat what we eat. They don’t snack, they have 3 main meals of the day – we rarely encourage snacking, and this really helps with their range of tastes and enjoyment of many different dishes.

Zainab: What is your favourite family dish?
Elda: We love roasted meat, with roasted potatoes and salad – it’s a big hit with everyone!

You can see how we made the byrek, here is the recipe for you to try.

Ingredients

1 bag baby spinach
1 block feta cheese
Half block of butter (125g)
1 egg
Half pot of yoghurt
Half a cup of milk
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 pack filo pastry
Pinch of parsley

Method

Wash the spinach while the butter is melting in a pan. Mix the spinach into most of the butter and cook until the spinach has wilted soft. Remove it from the heat, transfer into a mixing bowl and add the yoghurt, crumbled feta, egg and mix. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of parsley, mix and set aside. With the remaining olive oil, cover a baking tray – medium size ceramic work best.

Taking two sheets of filo at a time, layer in the dish, cover with milk each time to avoid the sheets drying out.
After 6/7 sheets, pour in the filling. Take the remaining filo sheets, again covering every couple of sheets with milk.
Once you have used up all the pastry sheets, tuck in the edges to make a tidy parcel. Dash the remaining milk and remaining butter over the top before popping into the oven at 180 degrees until the top is golden brown and crispy.

To check if the underneath is cooked, take a spatula and lift the filo parcel from the edges and cook for a few minutes longer.

Enjoy hot or cold with a salty Ayran drink or a tomato salad.

Let us know how yours turned out! Perhaps your culture has a different take on byrek – we would love to hear your recipes too.
Zainab x


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Comments (3)

Florence
February 18, 2020

This sounds delicious, and as I am always looking for new recipes without meat, I will definitly give this a go !


Celine
February 18, 2020

Thanks for the recipe! Will give it a try.


Janey
February 24, 2020

Made this yesterday, was delicious! Will definitely make again so thank you for the recipe. Also that little boy’s eyelashes!!! Gorgeous!


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