Banitsa is a traditional pastry made in Bulgaria. The banitsa recipe includes eggs and sirene as the key ingredients, where a layer made of sirene pieces and whisked eggs is filled between the filo pastry, which is then baked in the oven.
Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation of Banitsa Recipe:
The traditional banitsa pastry is prepared with pastry sheets which are made with baker’s hard dough that’s made by kneading a mixture of flour, water, shortening and eggs. There’s another sort of this pastry which is known as tutmanik and is prepared with leavened sheets with cheese filling. The traditional filling of banitsa is prepared with yogurt, eggs and feta cheese, to which, baking soda may also be added at times to make the yogurt rise and create a fluffier filling. The dish is prepared by layering individual sheets with fillings and shortening in between them, which are then baked. Alternately, the dish can also be prepared by rolling the filling inside the sheet, spiraling it and then, baking.
Serving and Eating Banitsa Recipe:
Banitsa is popularly served during the Holiday season, particularly on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve. However, on these occasions, the dish is served with kusmeti, which are lucky charms like coins, a small dogwood branch piece with a bud or other such small symbolic objects. The dogwood branch has a symbolic value which is associated with a wish like success, health, happiness, travel etc. The banitsa is then baked with the branch and while serving, it is cut in such a way that each piece of the pastry contains a piece of the sacred branch. After that, the pastry is put on the table and spun and once the spinning stops, each one takes the piece in front of them. Often, written fortunes are wrapped in tin foil and baked with these pastries. Thus, the banitsa is a lot like the fortune cookies, inside which the eater finds his/her fortune that predicts what to expect in the coming year. On other days, banitsa is generally eaten as breakfast and can be savored hot or cold. It is best eaten in accompaniment with boza, yogurt or aryan.
Popular Variations in Banitsa Recipe:
The banitsa is prepared in several variations, the popular most of which is the spanachena banitsa or banitsa made with spinach. These pastries also come with cabbage and leek fillings which are called zelnik and luchnik respectively. Vegetable fillings are also quite a favorite for these pastries and they may include leeks, sauerkraut, nettles and sorrel. Fillings are also made of onions, rice, meat, mushrooms. Besides these variants, there is another variation that’s quite popular and is eaten as a sweet dish and savored as dessert. This sweet version is called mlechna banitsa, where milk is used in the recipe. The shtrudel is yet another sweet variety made with a filling of apple, walnuts and cinnamon. There’s another sweet version of banitsa which is called tikvenik and is made with pumpkin.