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Aug 17, 2007 05:02 PM

Warka Pastry Leaves (aka malsouka, dioul, brik, feuilles de brick)

Is there a store in Los Angeles that sells North African pastry leaves?

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  1. If these are large rounds, I'm pretty sure I saw them last Saturday in the freezer at Surfas.

    1. I think I read that Diamond Bakery on Fairfax makes this for Chameau restaurant. Please let us know if this true and if they will sell it retail.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Tinitime

        I doubt they make it unless they have industrial warka making equipment. Otherwise it would be much easier and cost effective to just import brands from France or North Africa. The commercially made ones are very good to excellent. I actually know the owner of Chameau so II'll ask him about that.

        I know it's available to the trade here, the school I teach at orders a French brand. It's also available online through Amazon for example.

        But I was wondering if a store that I could just drive to had it. I'll call Surfas, I haven't been there in a while since I moved to the eastside.


      2. Irealize we're wandering towards a non-regional topic, but how different are these from the range of filo/phyllo/strudel sheets available in mass quantity at, say, Superking, and certainly, in more refined versions, at Surfas?

        1 Reply
        1. re: silverlakebodhisattva

 photos of how warka is made. It's made my tapping dough onto a hot pan. So the leaves are actually "cooked" and not a raw, rolled or stretched dough like filo.

          Warka is actually thinner than filo. In Algeria filo is also used because of the Ottoman influence. In quite a few recipes I've substituted filo for warka.

          Anyway, warka is really more for frying than baking. It is very, very crisp when cooked. I prefer them to filo especially for beestiya, samsas (Algerian samosas), briks and boureks.

        2. Farid, please please tell me about your French supplier because I am desperate to get my hands on some warka. They are NOT available at Surfa's (I called yesterday) and a commercial bakery would be very unlikely to make them because the equipment is impossible to obtain here, and more to the point, it requires an immense amount of skill to make warka. It would be very hard for a bakery owner to justify training someone to do this extremely difficult thing, or hiring someone who has the skill. just for one or two restaurant customers, especially when a commercial product is available. So Farid--please clue me in as to where I can order warka online!!

          Meanwhile, allow me to shed a bit more light on what warka is, because Moroccan cuisine is my specialty. I have been to Morocco twice within the last three years specifically to learn Moroccan cuisine, and have seen warka made by two different makers. I videotaped the process each time and still have both videos for consultation. Farid is right that they are cooked rounds of very thin dough, about 12-14" in diameter. Kind of like a crepe, but different in texture and flavor. The dough is indeed dabbed or sometimes quickly "smooshed" onto the hot pan, then pulled off after maybe 20 seconds, laid on a stack of previously made warka, and brushed all over with oil while the next one is cooking.

          To me, warka are very different from filo. Filo dries and cracks and does not hold a round shape nearly as well, being best suited for flat, layered applications like baklava. Warka has a lot more gluten than filo and behaves rather like fabric: it bends very easily, can be cut with scissors and is slightly rubbery, allowing it to be wrapped around things (e.g. brik, briouates and b'stilla). I have to respectfully disagree with Farid that warka is thinner than filo and not used in baking so much as frying. The warka I had in Morocco was a tad thicker than filo. It is certainly used for frying things very often, but b'stilla is a baked dish, so obviously it is used in baking at least for that dish.

          For those who are not yet falling asleep with this level of detail, another important fact when considering warka is that different ingredients are available in Morocco, including different flours. Moroccans typically do not know exactly what kind of flour they are using. They just say "flour." So it is up to the intrepid experimenter (that would be me) to discover American equivalents. Yesterday I made my first attempt at warka. Oh my god. It is wayyyy more difficult than it looks. I even had the correct equipment because I bought a warka pan in Morocco and hauled it back. Even after multiple batches, I never hit on exactly the right recipe for the dough. I tried every flour available to me and now believe that standard-issue flour in Morocco (what they just call "flour") is really a very fine durum, with high protein and gluten content. I have ordered some durum now from King Arthur and will take another crack at making warka. If anyone cares, I will let you know how it goes.

          Anyway, thanks for listening and Farid, please Please PLEASE tell me where to get them! After yesterday's debacle I am prepared to pay! :-)

          9 Replies
            1. re: emily

              Emily, thank you so much for this reference! I bought it now with one-click. I see from the picture they are square, not round, but they'll still be OK for briouates, assuming they are decent when they arrive. Anyway, THANKS!! Anyone else with other sources, please, I'm all ears.

              1. re: spicegrrl

                spicegrrl -- I was at Surfas yesterday and saw "feuilles de brick" (round shape) in the freezer section.

                (They've also got country-style phyllo, which I've been looking for.)

            2. re: spicegrrl

              spicegrrl, have you been able to find a real morrocan coucous mechoui here in LA? If so where? My (French) husband would KILL for a good one.....

              1. re: ausfrench

                I was under the impression that "mechoui" is a method of preparing a whole lamb, or big chunk of a lamb, usually saved for feasts or festivals because it is s0 time-consuming. The flavorings are on the sweet end of the Moroccan spectrum, anchored in cinnamon with the addition of honey. I have not heard of couscous done mechoui style. That said, I certainly do not know everything about Moroccan cuisine, so maybe there is a couscous mechoui. Tell me more about what you are talking about. Maybe I can still help.

                1. re: ausfrench

                  My "cooking "bible" is "The Book of Mediterranean Food" by Claudia Roden. The updated version is called "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food". My mother knew Claudia Roden while growng up in Alexandria Egypt. This precious pictorial volume is a comprehensive compendium of recipes from many different regions in the middle east. Paula Wolfert is just a "wanna-be" of truly knowledgable middle-eastern cooks. I think you will find the recipe you desire & much more in this, my most beloved, of cookbooks!! Good Luck!, JET

                  1. re: Jet

                    Paula Wolfert a wannabe? That’s just laughable! There’s certainly no need to denigrate one cookbook author because you have a preference for another. Roden may have been born and raised in Egypt, but she went to school in Paris and then moved to London. I’m not sure I see how that makes her more of an expert on Moroccan cooking than Wolfert.

                    Nonetheless, for purposes of this discussion, if you had checked your copy of “The New Book of Middle Eastern Food” you’d have seen that Roden has this to say about warka: “Making them is a highly skilled operation which requires a great deal of patience.” That is followed by three sentences on how the specialists go about it. She then admits “I started using fillo for Moroccan pies more than 30 years ago . . . .”

                    Wolfert, on the other hand, has 5 pages, including 5 illustrations, of very detailed instructions on how to go about making warka if you want to give it a go. So, no. spicegrrl would not have found the recipe or the instructions she was looking for in your most beloved of cookbooks.

                2. re: spicegrrl

                  Wow! Hat's off to you for even trying! I'm kinda like Mikey; I'll try anything. But that Wolfert herself had so many failures put me off even attempting it. Now, if someone could only tell me how to make authentic mechoui in a New York City apartment . . . . :-D

                  1. re: JoanN

                    Thank you, Joan, for reminding me about Wolfert. I can't believe I didn't think to consult her classic book before trying warka. I still don't think I would have succeeded, but it would have gotten me over a few obstacles a bit more quickly. But it's nice to have my suspicions confirmed that the flour is indeed a hard wheat flour such as durum. Thanks Joan.

                3. Many thanks to everyone who has posted about this. I have appreciated all of the suggestions. The online version of warka (called "Feuilles de Brick") arrived in the mail yesterday and they were perfect. Meanwhile I also posted a query on a Moroccan-American site and learned that Moroccan immigrants living in the US use spring roll wrappers--NOT egg roll wrappers it was helpfully pointed out. I tried using them and they are sort of okay but the real thing is definitely better--and also bigger, which may make a difference depending on what you are making. Anyway, PROBLEM SOLVED and many thanks to my fellow chowhounds.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: spicegrrl

                    You know I regularly see them at Surfas under the name "feuilles de brick" and they are exactly the same I used in France. So I'm puzzled by the poster who said Surfas didn't carry them, unless the poster called and ask for "warka". So if you're in a hurry head over to Surfas, I see them there all the time.

                    And for the poster who asked about mechoui, it really is cooking/roasting a whole mutton/sheep (not lamb) over a pit for several hours. At least that's the Algerian version and it doesn't include cinnamon or honey. It certainly isn't sweet whatsoever and I've never had it with couscous (couscous is a dish, what is called couscous in the US was called "frik" when I grew up). It's space and time-consuming and the traditional way to do it probably doesn't comply with LA Health regulations. So I doubt any LA restaurant would be able to offer it on a regular or even exceptional basis. I never had it in a restaurant in France or in Algeria, it's always been at family feasts, weddings, etc...

                    1. re: bad nono

                      Do you Know How Much And the brand?