Ouarka/warka/warqa sheets are to Moroccan cuisine what filo/phyllo is to the Balkan/Levant Cuisine. It’s so important to have it around or at least to know where to buy it when needed.
How they made warka in the past
I still recall my mother making it the old way which was more demanding. She had to prepare a sticky dough with a good glutenous texture. Flap a ball of that dough on the bottom of an upside-down pressure cooker which was itself placed on a big pot full of boiling water.
Speed and efficiently are highly required to perform the gymnastics of making warqa the old ways.
Of course there is another copper or enamel pan only for the purpose of making warqa but you had to find a pot where it will be placed on and that fits.
Nowadays, we just use a brush and it’s done in no time. We don’t even question the health and safety hasards the old generation had face to make these.
The convenience of buying ready-made warqa
Yes you could get hold of Brik sheets from supermarkets (a Tunisian sister of waarka) but just like filo, a properly made sheet can’t be compared with a shop-bought version which has been made industrially.
In Morocco, we are lucky to pop out to the market and buy freshly made waarka by weight. The connoisseurs buy the one made on steam instead of the one directly cooked over heat. The first one last longer and happens to be more freezer-friendly while the second one is not always up to the mark.
Since I left Morocco years ago, I had to find a way to wrap my briouates (triangle/samosas), sbiaates (rolls) and bastillas (sort of Moroccan pies). Yes I used rice wrappers, filo and brik sheets. But there is something about warqa I couldn’t find in any of them, especially when the wrapped food goes cold and you want to heat it again..
|Sellers in Moroccan Markets making ouarka the traditional way|
Then, like most of us, I browsed the internet to find an answer. Turned out that someone has discovered the brushing method which anyone can do as opposed to the highly skilled old method which hardly any of us can follow. That was about 8 years ago!
Now this method is no secret, bloggers, YouTubers, cookbook writers copied it and made it their own.
So it’s time I post it here, for those who still don’t know about it/scared to tackle it.
My auntie told me to use fine semolina flour in my batter while the famous cookbook writer Paula Wolfert advised me to keep it for a few hours to rest before using the batter. She also suggested we add vinegar and a tiny bit of oil.
So I go by the improved recipe of Paula Wolfert which she has developed with the famous Moroccan Chef Mourad Lahlou of Aziza.
So here is Paula’s recipe which I have adapted. The lazy and efficient method to make warka should encourage you to make it without even giving it a second thought. You won’t believe how easy this is.
And to the woman who started this method in the first place which no one remembers: We love you!
Makes about 18 round warqas of about 24 cm
Prep: 7 min – Resting time: at least 4 hours- Cooking: 18 min
- 200 g of strong white flour
- 60 g of fine semolina flour
- 1 3/4 cup of water
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tsp of vinegar (optional)
- 1 tsp of oil
- 3 tbsps of vegetable oil to brush the pan and the cooked warqa.
Prepare the batter:
If you are planning to make rolls, you don’t need to make big sheets of warqa, you can just brush rectangular strips which are just about enough for the job needed. Usually these strips are also sold in Moroccan markets and they’re about 15 cm large and 30 cm tall.