Kosovo: Flija

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Image result for kosovo official flag

Well this is a very interesting dish, I must say. Interesting like the country itself! I read a little about Kosovo’s history, to give myself a little context, and wow does this particular piece of land have a past! I feel like I should have known more about the history of this particular area of Europe since I have been alive for a chunk of the recent bit of turmoil there, but maybe I just spaced out in school when we were learning about it, (or just didn’t pay attention to the news). But in any case, I briefly educated myself, and for anyone else unfamiliar with this region, Kosovo is an self declared independent state, as of 2008, recognized by the USA and a handful of EU countries, and has had a lot of turbulence particularly between Serbians and Albanians, and was part of the  region that was formerly Yugoslavia. So, if we’re being real, this dish is probably just as Albanian and/or Serbian as it is Kosovo— Kosovan? Kosovian? (What is the proper term here?)
Here’s a handy little gif of that section of Europe from the 1800’s through 2008, that shows how the countries changed over that time period:

This thing, a Flija, is traditionally made outdoors over a fire, using a special pan with a lid that has hot coals on the top. The hot coals are what cooks each layer as you put it on. But since I live in a city, with a tiny patch of grass that is called a “yard”, no place to build a fire, and no special Flija pan. I just used a springform pan and set my oven to “broil.” And as far as I can tell, it turned out pretty good!

It’s not a particularly sweet dish, I guess it’s more on the savory side. It’s made from a thinnish batter, and a creamy mixture of sour cream, kefir and butter. The creamy stuff gives it a little bit of tang, but the baked batter sort of tasted like pasta?? It reminded me of lasagna, as if a bunch of lasagna noodles were stacked on top of each other. I also feel that this would be good with some cheese melted on top!  But that could be the American in me speaking. 😉 Its actually typically eaten with honey drizzled on top. Also good!

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The process of making this is a bit extensive and time consuming, so don’t try to make this as a last minute dish! Although mine didn’t take near as long as the recipe said it would. The maker of the recipe I followed said it will take three hours, but I finished mine in just over an hour. I only had to bake each layer for about two minutes, instead of the four that the recipe recommended. I had set my oven rack to the highest position, so my pan was right under the broiler, and that’s probably why it finished sooner. However, it still took full attention for about an hour just for the baking portion, so I turned on some K-pop and jammed to some classic Super Junior while I worked! 🙂 Here, have a picture of Super Junior, share in my enjoyment of Korean pop bands hehehe!  ̶A̶r̶e̶n̶’̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶y̶ ̶p̶r̶e̶t̶t̶y̶?̶!̶

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kyuhyun, kangin, eunhyuk, heechul, siwon, leeteuk, donghae, sungmin, ryeowook, and shindong (missing yesung ㅠ_ㅠ)… in case anyone was wanting to know…

Ahem….

I recommend checking out the original post of this recipe (link below) because that also has pictures of the process, and explains it very well. You have to alternate making layers of the batter and the cream mixture. You kind of pipe the batter in a sort of “wheel spoke” manner, and after baking it, brush on the cream mixture, then squeeze on another layer of spokes. Bake again, and repeat the process until your pan is full, or you run out of batter! I actually ran out the cream mixture first, but my pan was nearly full anyway, so it worked out! But my ratio of cream mixture to batter was somehow way off and I had a lot of unused batter left over.

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A few extra notes, I’m not sure if this is normal, but my first layer of batter somehow managed to puff up really high due to air somehow getting caught underneath it, but I poked it with a fork and patted it back down, and once it got a few more layers on top, it was fine. Just in case that happens to anyone else…. Also, it can be a little tricky to tell where the spokes are of the most recent layer, after you brush the cream on top of it. The spokes of the batter are supposed to kind of alternate, and lay between the spokes of the previous layer. But after you brush the cream mixture on, it can be a little bit tough to tell where the previous spokes are, so I just sort of guessed. One more note, the batter was supposed to sit for a few hours to allow any chunks to dissolve and ensure the batter is smooth so it can run out of the squeeze bottle easily. I only let mine sit for an hour, and there were a few chunks still in it, but nothing horrible to deal with.

All in all, this was tedious, but actually pretty fun! If you have patience and the right music and/or company to get you through, it’ll turn into a fun way to spend a few hours of your day! Here are some of my pictures of the process!

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Yummmm!

Ok! Some current events of Kosovo, then the recipe!
-The president of Kosovo has suggested that in order to attempt to heal Kosovo’s deeply divided past from all the wounds of war, everyone from all sides need to be upfront and honest about the war crimes they committed, and people born in generations after the war ended need to have a clear understanding of what happened in the wars. He says “The truth heals society from revenge and hatred.” Many people are skeptical of his motives behind announcing this commission, some question the timing of this announcement, and some question whether it is coming from a hope for actual healing for the country, or if it is politically motivated for some other reason. You can read more on that here.
-Here’s something I find interesting. Every year, Kosovo takes a survey, the Kosovo Security Barameter, getting citizens’ perceptions on the country’s security, neighboring states, and world powers. Unsurprisingly, Kosovo Serbians, and Kosovo Albanians have ver opposing thoughts on nearly everything. But the general majority perceived Serbia negatively, as a threat, and perceived Albania as generally good, and Montenegro is seen as pretty neutral. In regards to the Western powers, like USA, Germany, France and the UK, the view is generally positive. The same cannot be said for Russia and China, which are seen as “hostile countries.” You can read a little more in depth on that here, and I recommend it, it’s quite fascinating.
-Kosovo’s attempt at international recognition of their independence continues with a controversial border agreement between Kosovo and Montenegro, which was hopefully supposed to establish a solid border between the two countries, as was previously done between Kosovo and Macedonia, and will need to be done between Kosovo and Serbia. One of the reasons the agreement has been controversial, is because with the proposed borders, Kosovo would be losing a bit of land. The government seems to not be too bothered to get feedback from it’s citizens on whether or not they’re okay with this decision, even after many protests and clear disapproval from a number of people. There is sooooo much more to this, and a lot of stuff has resulted from this situation arising, but I wont try to paraphrase all of it here, so I encourage you to go read the full article about it here.

OK RECIPE!
source: HERE

Flija

Ingredients
Batter 1
Batter 2

Other: 9″ or 10″ springform pan, squeeze bottle

Instructions
  1. Whisk together each batter in its own bowl until they are lump free. Set aside at least an hour or overnight if possible.
  2. Right before cooking, adjust the egg batter with flour or milk until it is somewhere between the thickness of crêpes and pancakes.
  3. Turn on the broiler and oil a large springform pan.
  4. Add one layer of egg batter. Brown under the broiler for about 2-4 minutes.
  5. Spread with a few spoonfuls of sour cream batter. Then, using the squeeze bottle, layer the batter around the pan like the rays of the sun and broil again.
  6. Once the spokes have cooked, brush with more dairy mixture and then squeeze on some more batter between the most recent spokes.
  7. Repeat process, broiling after every dairy and flour batter addition.
  8. Eventually the pan fills up.. little by little.
  9. Drizzle honey when serving.

 

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