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Gluten-Free Warka {Moroccan Phyllo}

Ask any Moroccan chef or home cook what is the single item they would buy over making and chances are pretty good they will say warka (sometimes spelled oarka). Traditional warka is a pain to make. It is closely related to phyllo dough but is a little sturdier and has a crispier texture when cooked. It is time consuming, and involves a lot of stretching and pulling to make paper thin sheets. In her book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco, Paula Wolfert details the process through illustration.  Recently she made a video with Alia from Cooking with Alia (I’m insanely jealous that Alia got to hang out with Paula!) showing a different way of making warka using a paint brush.

I knew that the traditional way of making warka wouldn’t work to make gluten-free warka. The pulling process is meant to activate the gluten and stretch out the gluten molecules to create the thin but sturdier sheets. Obviously, this would be impossible with gluten-free flours. But, when I saw Paula’s new technique there was some promise.  Some of our favorite Moroccan Ramadan treats use phyllo or warka so I was determined to create a gluten-free version.

I’m not going to lie to you – this recipe does take time but the results are worth it. Knowing that MarocBaba will be able to enjoy things like savory and sweet briouats as well as  b’stilla makes it all worth it.

Gluten Free Warka

Ingredients

  • 3/4 c sorghum flour
  • 1/4c tapioca starch
  • 1/4 c brown rice flour
  • 1/4 c white rice flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 3/4c water
  • paper towels or parchment paper
  • 3-4″ bristle paintbrush (one that is used only in the kitchen)

Instructions

      • In a food processor combine everything except the vegetable oil. Blend until everything is well combined and is a thin batter.
      • Refrigerate covered for 2 hours.
      • During this time prepare for making the warka. Cut sheets of parchment paper or paper towel into pieces to place between the layers. Place a small bowl of the vegetable oil in your work area with a paper towel to be used on the pastry sheets.
      • Remove batter from the refrigerator and heat a skillet on medium high heat. I’ve found using a pan that is the same size as the sheets you would like is the easiest.
      • Pour a small amount of oil into the pan and wipe off with a paper towel.
      • Using your paintbrush, brush on the batter making a thin layer. Working in a circular fashion dabbing batter in the areas with holes. This may take a few attempts to get a good understanding of how much to use. (See Alia’s video as the technique is the same).
      • Heat for approximately 2 minutes. you will see the edges starting to pull up and the middle beginning to dry. You do not want this to cook completely through or it will become hard and impossible to use for briouats or b’stila.
        Warka Opacity

 

    • Very carefully pull the sheet out of the pan and transfer to a parchment/paper towel on a plate. Dab another paper towel with vegetable oil and spread on the warka sheet. Cover with a sheet of parchment or paper towel. 
    • Repeat the steps until batter is gone. This recipe will make 30-32 sheets or warka.
    • The warka can be used immediately or placed into a freezer bag and frozen until ready to use. Be sure to thaw at room temperature before using.

Saving Warka

 These sheets can be used to make traditional Moroccan foods that call for warka or phyllo dough BUT they also can be used for other recipes that use phyllo.  I’m thinking of making some baklava with them soon!

I hope you’ll join me tomorrow at 8pm EST for a Twitter Chat with Saffron Road Food.  We’ll be discussing getting your kitchen ready for Ramadan and I’ll be available to answer any questions or problems you have.  Simply jump onto the stream using #RamadanKitchen to join us!  Don’t forget you can also win this great giveaway for Moroccan goodies!

Comments

  1. Asalamu alaikum,

    You are my hero, seriously….I have been wondering about this. My son and husband can’t have gluten so we all don’t eat it. I’ve been wanting to make so many things but haven’t been able to and dreading trying to come up with things for next Ramadan :). I just found a new product to replace couscous with it is pretty much rice “couscous”. My husband tried it and gave it the ok haha, good thing because he didn’t want to live in this world without is Friday tradition :). Thank you so much for these recipes!!

  2. wow making warka
    we just get it from , yup we buy it in bulk put it in our suitcase and freeze it here till the next time we visit morocco
    one day I’ll try this, very ambitious though! I’m impressed! making bastilla makes me tired for days imagine making the warka!

  3. Hi there,
    Is it fine if i brush it with butter instead of olive oil? I want to make baklava :) How can i make it? Did you try it?

    • marocmama says:

      I can’t say I tried brushing with butter but it’s worth a shot! You could try grapeseed oil to keep the layers separate but not add any flavor. To make baklava, use your favorite recipe and swap out phyllo sheets for these!

  4. I lived in Morocco for 5 months and was never able to eat pastilla because of a gluten-issue. This recipe is wonderful and I can’t wait to try it out…Thank you soo much!

  5. This looks like Turkish gullac, a traditional dessert for Ramadan. It is starch wafers with milk syrup., topped with nuts and/or pomegranate.
    Not my favorite but as I said quite popular in Turkey. Do you have a similar food in Moroccan Cuisine?

    • marocmama says:

      There is a Moroccan dessert similar to that but using a type of puff pastry. I think warka is comparable to Turkish yufka.

  6. Wow, Amanda! Tbarkellah alaik. You’ve not only made warqa which in itself puts you in a category with the greats, but you’ve come up with an entirely new recipe concept here. This is just amazing.

    • marocmama says:

      Aww thanks Nora! I’m slowly getting the hang of making Moroccan staples gluten-free. Ramadan mubarak to you and your family!

Trackbacks

  1. […] crepes, thinner than normal with a slightly different balance of flours based off this recipe for Moroccan phyllo pastry. As the mixture was different from my normal crepe mix it was a little trickier spreading the […]

  2. […] gluten-free you can still enjoy these, it will just be a little more work. Check out my recipe for gluten-free warka (a Moroccan phyllo dough). If you’re really in a pinch pre-made pie crust pressed out into muffin […]

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