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Ramadan recipe: How to make Algerian bricks

How to make Algerian bricks
How to make Algerian bricks Copyright Anca Ulea
Copyright Anca Ulea
By Anca Ulea
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Euronews Culture offers a favourite dish for the holy month of Ramadan

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Millions of Muslims around the world are celebrating Ramadan this month. The religious holiday spans four weeks, during which time all Muslims who are capable will refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex every day from dawn to dusk.

It’s often described to non-Muslims as “Christmas every day for a month” because of the generous conviviality that accompanies the breaking of the fast, which is called iftar.

Many Muslims will gather with friends and family around a sumptuous dinner table packed with the most delicious dishes their culture has to offer. And considering Islam is practised on every continent, the different foods eaten during Ramadan are as diverse as the people celebrating.

With Ramadan coming to an end on Friday 21 April, Euronews Culture has focused on a favourite Ramadan recipe from Africa that you can try at home, whether or not you’re celebrating: Algerian bricks.

Anca Ulea
Feast your eyes on the deliciousness of Algerian bricks!Anca Ulea

I’ve never met a single person who’s tried and hasn’t completely fallen in love with bricks, the North African take on samosas or egg rolls. Crispy on the outside, soft and savoury on the inside, they come in different shapes and with many different fillings. The bricks my partner’s family eats during Ramadan are made with ground beef seasoned with traditional kefta spices and topped with a dollop of cream cheese. It’s nearly impossible to eat only one, so they disappear fast. I like mine with a little harissa and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top or dunked in a hot bowl of harira soup (though I do get some weird looks for that one).

Morade’s Algerian Bricks

Makes: around 20 bricks

Cooking time: 1 hr 45 min

Total time: 3 hr 45 min

Ingredients:

Anca Ulea
These are the ingredients you'll need to make Algerian bricks.Anca Ulea

For the filling:

1 kg ground beef

2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped, plus more to serve

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 yellow onion, finely diced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

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For the kefta spice mix:

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground paprika

½ tbsp ground ginger

For cooking:

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1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup vegetable oil (or more, see recipe note)

For assembly:

2 packs brick sheets AKA “feuilles de brick” - if you can’t find these, use egg roll wrappers

1 box cream cheese

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1 roll of paper towels

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, add the ground beef, garlic, parsley, kefta spice mix, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well with your hands until all the ingredients are uniformly blended together.

Anca Ulea
Mix together the ground beef, garlic, kefta spices, salt, pepper and parsley to get your filling.Anca Ulea

2. Put the ground beef mixture in the fridge for 1 hour to marinate. This step is optional, but it will make your brick filling more flavourful.

3. In a large frying pan, heat up 2 tbsp olive oil on medium-high heat and when warm, add onions and cook until translucent, about 3 min.

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4. Add the beef mixture to the pan. Stir well with a wooden spoon in order to break up the ground beef into small pieces, and fry for 10-15 min until fully cooked through. Taste the meat at this point and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Anca Ulea
Fry your diced onion and add the meat mixture to the same pan. When it's cooked through, it should look like the image on the right.Anca Ulea

5. Put the cooked meat mixture in a bowl and let it cool. Once it’s at room temperature, store in the fridge for at least one hour, but up to 24 hours.

Note: Don’t skip this step as the meat needs to dry out before you assemble your brick, otherwise it will get soggy and fall apart.

6. Assemble your bricks. Place the brick sheet onto a flat surface. Using a spoon, add around 1 tbsp of the meat mixture into the middle of the bottom part of the folded wrapper, around 1 cm away from the edge. Then add 1 tsp of cream cheese on top.

Anca Ulea
Proper placement of your ground beef mixture and cream cheese on your brick sheet.Anca Ulea

7. Fold the outer edges over and then start rolling the brick like a cigar. Make sure you put some pressure on it so it stays together. Once it’s all rolled up, place it on a plate with the free edge facing down. 

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Note: If you’re meal prepping, you can store the uncooked bricks covered in the fridge for up to a day.

Anca Ulea / Canva
Here's a step-by-step guide on how to roll your bricks into cigars.Anca Ulea / Canva

8. Prepare a large plate with three layers of paper towels on top and set it next to the stove - this is where you’ll set your bricks once they’re done cooking.

9. Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil and heat it on medium-high. Note: if there’s not enough oil in the pan, the bricks will burn, so don’t be afraid to add more if you notice your pan is getting dry or your bricks are smoking.

Anca Ulea
Make sure there's enough vegetable oil to coat the frying pan, because otherwise your bricks will burn.Anca Ulea

10. Once the oil is hot, place your bricks in the pan, free edge down. Fry them on all sides until golden-brown, flipping often. This should take around 10 min.

11. When the bricks are done cooking, lift them out of the pan one at a time, tilting them and waiting a few seconds until the excess oil drips off. Then set them on the plate covered in paper towels.

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Anca Ulea
Bricks love to soak up oil, so make sure you let any excess oil drip off them and then dab them with paper towels.Anca Ulea

Note: Bricks like to absorb oil, so this step is important to keep the outside crispy and make them less greasy. You can also dab the bricks with paper towels on all sides to absorb any additional oil.

Sprinkle some more parsley on top and serve warm with harissa and fresh lemon juice. Enjoy!

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