Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Moroccan Mini-M'hanchas with vegetables for starters

M'hancha in Moroccan refers to a long twisted and tightened roll of warka/ouarqa (*)that is stuffed with sweet or savoury filling. M'hencha is baked and served as a warm starter to a meal or a dessert in the case of the sweet version.

Moroccans use soy sauce as well as fine rice vermicelli, which obviously are both rather belonging to a Chinese pantry.

But if you think about it, soy sauce is a sort of fermented condiment that could replace a centuries old Arab condiment used in Andalusia during the Muslim conquest. The condiment was called "murri naqi" which was made out of barley paste as a base then a few more ingredients were added to it to bring sourness and saltiness.

A mini vegetables M'hancha in the centre surrounded by triangles
(we call them Briouats) with the same filling


Soy sauce can be easily found in many Moroccan households (I can't venture for the remote places though). We add it to sauces, serve it with seafood rolls and seafood bastilla (I'll post that in the future).

Mini vegetables M'hancha from the inside

So don't be surprised if you find this condiment used in some of our ethnic food.

Today's recipe is very easy, totally adaptable from a vegetarian or vegan version to a meaty or fishy version.

Now, don't feel bound by the shape of M'hancha. If you think that making rolls or triangles, or even squares is more of something you can do, by all means, go ahead! Should you choose this sort of shape, omit the egg wash.



Ingredients
Serves 2
Prep: 15 min - Cooking: 20 min

Veg. filling
  • 1 1/2 cup of carrots, grated
  • 1 1/2 cup of zucchini/courgettes, grated
  • 1/2 tsp of ginger (fresh or ground)
  • 1/2 tsp of black or white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 2 tbsps of parlsey, chopped
  • 2 tbsps of hard goat cheese (or feta)
  • 3 tbsps of grated cheese (Edam, cheddar..)
Optional vegetables you could add to the filling
  • Leeks, mushrooms, white turnip, capers, green olives
For wrapping
  • About 6 sheets of phyllo or warka /ouarka (large)
  • 5 tbsps of clarified butter, melted and cooled
  • Egg wash with an egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp of water

A family-sized vegetables M'hancha before baking.


Preparation

Prepare the filling

Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the butter followed by the vegetables. Season with the spices. Sautée all these ingredients for no more than 3 minutes while stirring constantly. The vegetables should remain Al dente.


Knock off the heat source and add parsley, capers if using them, soy sauce. Stir. 

Transfer to a sieve and set aside to cool and drain any excess liquid (squeeze with your hands once cooled).


Add crumbled goat cheese and grated cheese and mix.

Shape the Mini-M'hanchas

Unfold a couple of sheets of phyllo or one sheet of warka, butter them from one side using a brush.
The sheets should be one on top of the other in a neat way.

For large M'hanchas, we overlap many sheets
to form a long recipient for the filling

Place a long line of filling on length somewhere on the end quarter of the sheet from the bottom. Roll the empty part of the sheets from the bottom toward the top to form a long rod. Roll from one end to the other to form a M'hancha.

 A store- bought phyllo dough tend to tear while a North African
 warqa won't (provided you drained the filling properly)
Brush each M'hancha with egg yolk. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 15 mins or until nicely golden including from the the bottom

Once they're cooked, place them on kitchen paper to get rid of excess fat.


Serve warm or hot with a salad. On the side, you could serve extra soy sauce or a Levantine pomegranate molasses.



Notes

(*) Ouarka or warka is a thin sheet used in North African cooking, substitute with phyllo sheets

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