Happy birthday to my big bro, Benjamin! So happy that my host family here has wifi and that we were actually able to use FaceTime to have an awesome birthday chat. This post is dedicated to him and it’s about a topic in which I think he will be interested: cooking. Specifically, cooking flija. Mom, I know you were asking about this as well so here you go.
I have done a little bit of helping out my family with cooking while living here, mostly assembling salad and one time attempting to roast the peppers although that was, as they say here, “shumë katastrofë”. (I have tender fingers, the peppers were hot, things went somewhat awry.) I clean the dishes sometimes but that’s as much because I find that task really relaxing as because I want to help out.
Anyway, the other day while visiting some of my host family’s family for Iftar in the nearby city of Gjilan, I was allowed to assist in the process of baking flija. This process is… involved, to say the least. Basically the cook pours layers of batter in an every-other pattern in the pan, then lowers a very hot lid on the pan which bakes that layer, then adds a little butter and repeats the process, like, 100 times.
Apologies for the awkward placement of my shirt. But here I am pouring one strip of the batter while my host sister-in-law’s sister performs quality control. (She made me redo a couple sections.)
This took me about 3 or 4 minutes. Granted, I haven’t grown up doing it and Ernesa worked a lot faster than me. But it still takes a long time.
Here is the flija in the pan, waiting for the coal-laden lid to be placed upon it. Can you see the orange peeking out under the lid? That’s the fire that is helping to heat the lid from the other side. There’s a handle in the middle of the lid and you use a stick, seen here resting against the fence in the background, to move the lid from fire to pan and back to fire again.
The result is delicious, unhealthy, and a true labor of love.
If you’re still confused, here’s a helpful youtube tutorial!