30 Jan 2016

Warquat or War9at Bastilla / Moroccan Phyllo Sheets (Filo)

Warquat Bastilla is very thin, small or big and round sheets to make two popular dishes : Bastilla and Briwat. The ingredients of this unleavened, runny and sticky dough are flour and water, some will add a bit of salt or even vegetable oil. To make bastilla sheet you need a special pan which is quiet heavy, a topstove or marjmar (traditional barbecue), love, special skills and luck.

Warquat bastilla is a labour of love and you need plenty of time, patience, accurate performance and diligent hand skills. Bastilla bakers prepare the dough one day before, cover it and let it rest for hours if not the whole night. Then the dough is stirred until it becomes smooth and shiny. The fun part starts then: using only one hand, they pinch a small sticky piece out of the dough , magically form a ball though the dough is so runny, tap it over the hot pan continuously. The tapping keeps going on in a circle way, until the whole pan is covered with a thin dough sheet. The tapping is so fast and accurate that each tap is close to the next and its previous one. This is very important to obtain the ideal thinness of the sheet. Only one hand is used to do all this work, the other hand is used to transfer the thin sheet onto a clean dry tea towel, and brush it with some vegetable oil to keep it soft. It takes only 15 to 20 minutes to make more than 1 kilo of warquat bastilla. If the famous Turkish phyllo called yufka is jazz, Moroccan warquat bastilla is certainly akin to classical art.

Warquat Bastilla Pan

In Morocco you can buy fresh warquat bastilla in some markets or bakeries, where only few bastilla bakers can make it. Of course  you might think it is easy to make at home since all you need is flour and water, why not, but it is not that easy. It is a labour-intensive process requiring lot of skills and experience to obtain a perfect circle sheet with the desired thinness.  Even the best cooks and bakers in Morocco can't make it, they would rather buy it in the shops and markets. Of course The fresher, the better, these fresh sheets should be used within 3 days maximum, otherwise they will  will dry out and become brittle.

Warquat bastilla ready to use

I am making a chicken bastilla with these lovely sheets

K. El Mary

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