Being one of the most favourite dishes of Albania, Flija is a layered pancake made with simple ingredients and baked slowly over a few hours. Served hot, fresh and with honey or greek yogurt (or both). We love having it for lunch, pudding or in fact anytime of the day. There is also an official Flia Day where you get together with family to prepare and eat Flija – March 18th.
Albanian Flija is traditionally made with a saç which is a large metal lid that is placed over a pan that sits on what’s best to describe it, a BBQ on the ground. Using a traditional saç the key is to keep the temperature consistent. An open BBQ would be made on the ground and when ready the Flija will be made in a large pan / baking tray that is place directly onto it, while the next layer is being added the saç will be covered with ashes to bring and keep it at a steady temperature.
For this recipe I need to clarify what type of grill to us as in different parts of the world it has different meanings. In the UK the term grill means ‘to put the food directly UNDER the heat’, we often have grills built into our ovens (oven door remains open) or a separate grill on the applicants. Some parts of the world call this Broiling. In some parts of America the term grill means ‘to put the food directly ABOVE the heat’ – we call the a BBQ here in the UK.
So, to clarify you need to Grill or Broil – putting the Flija directly under the heat either via the grill in an oven (door open) or the separate grilling compartment.
- Mix together the flour, water and salt ensuring all the lumps are dissolved. The mixture should be thick but still of a pouring consistency, add a little extra water if required. Put to one side.
- Mix together the butter, oil and chosen yogurt / cream ensuring all the lumps are dissolved. The mixture should be runny, leave to rest for 10 minutes before given it another good mix. The consistency should be similar to custard. Put to one side.
- Preheat the gill to a medium setting (I use mark 4 of 6). Take a large deep baking tray or pie pan and rub some olive oil over the base. Make the first layer of flour batter using a squirty bottle or laydel, don’t try to pour the batter as it will be too thick in the pan. You need to make a star effect by leaving triangles between each line of batter layers. Place under the grill until golden brown. This will take between 3 – 5 minutes.
- Remove from under the grill and using a brush or the back of spoon rub over the whole pan (both battered and un-battered areas) a layer of the batter filling. Then, add a layer of the flour filling, use the same star effect this time placing the lines of batter through the gaps left from the previous layering. Also, leaving the same triangle shapes between each line. Place under the grill until golden brown. This will take between 3 – 5 minutes.
- Repeat step 4 until all the mixture has been used and ensuring each triangle gap is filled with flour batter on each layer – this will take around 2 hours. After every couple of layers, use one layer just to fill up any spaces (large gaps between the batter stars) that may have started to show.
- Once the Flija is ready serve straight away with honey or yogurt