What Is Brik?

Sonal Panse

Brik is a popular pastry dish that was introduced into Tunisian cuisine by the Ottoman Turks who came to settle in Tunisia. The ingredients used in Tunisian brik pastries mainly include eggs, potatoes, onions, fish, cheese, parsley, coriander, cucumber, mint, olive oil, semolina, lemon, yogurt, cumin, pepper and salt. The brik pastry is made by stuffing a thin dough with egg, fish, vegetables and cheese, and then frying or baking it.

Harissa is a spicy pepper paste.
Harissa is a spicy pepper paste.

The pastry cover for the brik can made by rolling flour dough into very thin rectangular layers. It is also possible to buy the pastry covers ready-made; the sheets for spring rolls can be readily used here. To make the pastry filling, the potatoes are peeled, baked or boiled, and mashed. Onions are chopped and fried with the spices, and added to the potatoes. The mixture is placed on the thin pastry cover, and an egg yolk is poured over it.

Brik contains egg yolk.
Brik contains egg yolk.

The brik dough cover is then folded over half to form a triangle and the sides are pressed close. The pastry is then carefully placed in a pan of oil and fried until it browns on both sides; it has to be turned over gingerly so as not to break it. The pastry may also be brushed with melted butter and baked instead of fried.

The brik pastry is best eaten while it is still warm, usually with a paste called "harissa." This paste is made by combining chilies, tomatoes, garlic and coriander with cumin, pepper, cinnamon, caraway and olive oil. Some recipes also include meat. The harissa paste can be quite hot and spicy.

Tunisian brik is also eaten with a vegetable salad made with onions, cucumbers, coriander and mint. The vegetables are chopped finely and mixed together. It is then covered with a dressing which is made by adding lemon juice and olive oil to fresh yogurt, and mixing well. Cumin, pepper and salt are sprinkled over for seasoning, and the dressing is then poured over the salad. The salad and dressing may be processed in a blender if a smooth salad paste is required.

These egg dishes are eaten every day in Tunisia, and they are also traditionally made during weddings. The bride's mother is supposed to make them for the prospective groom. If the groom manages to eat the pastries without spilling the egg filling, he gets the seal of approval.

To make a pastry filling for brik, potatoes are peeled, baked or boiled, and mashed.
To make a pastry filling for brik, potatoes are peeled, baked or boiled, and mashed.

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