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Ralitsa's Famous Banitsa

Monique Karaivanov, Period 6

Banitsa (say it "BAH-nit-sa", not "ba-NEET-sa") is a traditional Bulgarian dish consumed at any meal. Here in Bulgaria, breakfast is often a pastry eaten while walking to work. If you've visited Bulgaria, you've probably seen people eating banitsa purchased from street kiosks, and you may even have tried some for yourself. I did, on my first morning in Bulgaria, July 25, 1994. It was awful...I wondered how I'd be able to live in Bulgaria eating food like this!

However, homemade banitsa is a completely different animal from street banitsa. When Rali made it for the first time, I didn't want any part of it...but I had a small piece, just to be polite. And it was wonderful. I've been a dedicated banitsa consumer ever since.

Here's Rali's recipe...

What you need:

  • 2 packets of phyllo dough (Bulgarian "fini kori" or phyllo from the frozen desserts section)
  • 200 grams of yellow cheese (Bulgarian kashkaval or a mixture of cheddar and mozzarelle)
  • 500 grams of white cheese (Bulgarian sirene or feta cheese)
  • 7 eggs
  • 100 grams of butter
  • 1/2 cup of soda water
  • 1 cup yogurt

How to make it:

Mix six of the eggs, the grated butter, the crumbled white cheese, the yellow cheese cut in small pieces, and the yogurt. In a buttered pan, lay a layer of the phyllo dough, spread a layer of the mixture, and continue alternating layers so that the phyllo and the mixture are finished about the same time. Finish with a layer of phyllo dough. Then cut the banitsa into serving pieces. Mix the last egg with the soda water and stir. Pour the mixture over the banitsa and make sure there are no pieces of the phyllo dough left dry.
Bake in a preheated over at 200 C for 40 minutes, or till golden. Enjoy!

Variations:

Spinach Banitsa

Same as the regular banitsa recipe, but substitute 3 eggs with 1/2 kilogram spinach, washed, cut and lightly fried (no more than five minutes).

Green Onion Banitsa

Same as the regular banitsa recipe, but substitute 3 eggs with 5-10 stalks of green onion (about 1 cup diced onion), lightly fried (no more than ten minutes).

 

 

 

 

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