Wishing a Happy Holiday to each and everyone celebrating today from the Armenian orthodox community worldwide. I spent a couple of hours yesterday roaming the Armenian neighborhood of Burj Hammoud and brought back boxes of pastries and sweets. These pictured above are offered with pistachio or walnut filling.
The following recipe is from Anahid’s Helwayate Anahid al-shaheyah. Anahid Dunikian is probably the most popular cookbook author in Lebanon and is herself Armenian and reputed for her expertise in sweets and pastries. She makes this burma long-style, like a cigar, one leaf of phyllo pastry at a time. When the phyllo pastry is filled with nuts it is rolled up and lined up in a pan generously soaked in oil and melted butter. The excess butter is drained after the pastry bakes into a golden crispy color, then drenched in syrup. Simple, but effective; it is hard to only eat one of these delightful burmas.
INGREDIENTS: 12 (or more) servings
- Syrup: 2 cups sugar, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 box phyllo pastry (1 pound)
- 1 cup melted butter mixed with 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 pound coarsely chopped walnuts or pistachios
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
1. Thaw the phyllo dough overnight in the fridge. Prepare the syrup ahead: place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Let the syrup simmer for 10 minutes, adding the lemon juice the last two minutes of cooking. Set aside to cool and cover and place in the fridge.
2. In a bowl, mix the chopped nuts with the sugar and spices. Place one sheet of phyllo on the counter and cover the other with a damp towel; brush the sheet of phyllo with the butter mixture (it needs to be melted and lukewarm), sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped nuts and sugar mixture on the long side of the sheet and roll up like a cigar. Twist the ends as you would a rope to prevent the filling from oozing out.
3. Brush a long baking sheet with plenty of oil, and set the first burma on it; continue with the others as you go along until the package of phyllo is used up; if necessary, use another baking sheet (the package should have 22 sheets). Pour the remaining butter mixture over the burmas. Bake in a preheated 375F oven till the pastries are golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and drain the butter out into a bowl. Immediately, pour the cold syrup on the pastries and set the baking sheet on the counter to allow the pastries to soak up the syrup. Serve at room temperature.
NOTE: Congratulations to Rita who won the Iraqi cookbook recently published by Dar el-Ilm Lilmalayin. Please e-mail me your address so that I can send it to you.