Brik is one of the most loved dishes in Tunisia. It’s an icon. An experience. It is tricky to master at first. Then it is prepared à la minute, if you leave it a tiny bit too long on the side it becomes soggy and tears. But then when you bite into the crunchy and flaky pastry- called malsouka- a runny and velvety yolk coats the tongue as the brininess of the capers hits. In other words, it’s worth it.
Photography: Safia Shakarchi
4 sheets Brik pastry
1 medium size onion finely chopped
1 small leek finely chopped
450g Maris Piper or King Edward potatoes
3 tbsp chopped flat parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 medium size eggs
1 tbps drained capers
1 tsp harissa or chilli flakes
½ tsp roughly pounded cumin
½ tsp turmeric
½ lemon juiced + lemon wedges to serve
1 tbsp freshly grated Emmental or Gruyère
1 tbsp olive oil
Vegetable oil for shallow frying
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and leek and ¼ of the pounded cumin, allowing to cook slowly for about 5-10 minutes until soft.
Place the potatoes into a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, allowing it to bubble away for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain and steam dry, then roughly mash with a fork. Be careful if you add salt to the boiling water as the capers and cheese are salty too.
Fold in the onion and leek. Add the rest of the cumin, harissa or chilli flakes (tip: mix the chilli flakes with the olive oil and add ¼ of pounded caraway seeds), turmeric, parsley, coriander, cheese and lemon juice. Stir to combine. Set aside in the fridge. The longer you keep it in the fridge the more the potatoes will absorb the flavours.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add vegetable oil enough to come 2-3 cm up the side of the pan. Use a piece of Brik pastry to test if the oil is at the right temperature. If it turns golden too quickly then the oil is too hot.
Place 1 sheet of Brik pastry on a shallow plate. Top with 3 heaped tablespoons of the potato mix and make a well in the centre. Crack an egg into the well, and add four or five capers around the egg or as much as you fancy.
Now the tricky part is to fold the Brik pastry in half to enclose the filling while gently lifting it and lowering it into the pan without the egg white escaping. It is just fine if it does – practice makes perfect! The best way to do this is to place the plate as possible to the frying pan. Fold in half with a fork and lift it over quickly but gently. Lower, gently, into the pan and immediately press around the edge with the fork to seal the pastry.
Fry briefly to avoid overcooking the yolk. We want the egg just cooked with a runny yolk, as it should be. When the pastry is lightly golden, gently flip it over with a slotted spatula. Cook until the other side gets that golden colour and remove and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining Brik pastry and filling then serve immediately each half mooned Brik with a lemon wedge that should be squeezed all over. No one mastered the Brik from the first time, keep trying. It is so worth it.