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8
Jun

Last month, I fell in love with a beautiful child in the middle of Byzantine ruins in Syria. A couple of months previous to that, it was katmer, a typical breakfast pastry from Gaziantep, Turkey, that had captured my heart. Sounds fickle, I know. Perhaps it’s my nature, or perhaps it’s all the traveling that I do because now I am in love with Brazil and everything Brazilian: the people, the food, etc. but this is another story.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/clip:5014302?pg=transcoded_embed&sec=5014302[/vimeo]

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There are different types of katmer. The one you see being made in the video above (rather poorly filmed at the Orkide pastry shop in Gaziantep) is filled with ground pistachios & kaymak (very thick Turkish cream) while tahinli katmer, made with tahini, is very different although just as good, or almost.

Like many multi-layered breads from around the Mediterranean, katmer is made with an incredibly thin dough. The dough for the pisachio-filled version is flattened in much the same way as that for the Egyptian fiteer, by flapping it in the air and slapping it against a marble surface. With each flap, the dough stretches further. The main difference being that the katmer maker tears the thick edges off before filling and folding the dough. Also, he keeps to the square shape while the fatatri (fiteer maker) doesn’t tear the edges off and he folds the square corners to make a round pastry.

I took the sequence of B&W photos below at a fatatri in Bell Street, London N1. I haven’t been for a while but I suspect he is still there. The fiteer he made for me is a monster one where he put one inside the other (at least half a dozen), to produce a fiteer with an incredible number of layers. You could actually say that these multi-layered breads/pastries (katmer, fiteer, the Moroccan melwi, etc.) are the Middle Eastern equivalent of the French mille feuille.

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In this photograph, the fatatri is making a fiteer filled with sujuk and eggs. Very good although my favourite remains a plain, single fiteer, topped with qashta  (the Arab version of kaymak) and drizzled with honey. It is  my daily lunch when I am in Cairo. Egyptian food is definitely not the best, nor the cleanest, and I was grateful for the excellent fatatri in Khan el-Khalili.

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And in this photograph, the waiter is drizzling hot clarified butter (samneh in Arabic) on my monster fiteer which I think they call fiteer mshattat — I have to double check.

I strongly recommend both Orkide in Gaziantep, if you happen to be there, and the fatatri in Bell Street, which is called Meya Meya, if you are in London — I am hoping they are still in business there. Going to them is like being in Cairo, with Egyptian films on the large TV screen and a Khan el-Khalili cafe atmosphere downstairs.

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There is 13 comments on this post


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Anissa,

    Gorgeous food and pictures. When next in London, my treat!


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Thanks Sonia. Can’t wait to see you in London and go to the fatatri with you.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Wow, great video. This is the same way they stretch the dough for Malabari paratha in India

    http://soulcocina.blogspot.com/2009/04/slow-kati-roll.html

    Thanks for introducing me to this new dish.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    And thanks for the link Roger. Very similar indeed. So much to learn.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    I’m from Gaziantep and I had just recommended a french friend of mine to taste katmer in my home town, he forwarded your link to me. There is a small town, Kilis, south of Gaziantep. They also have an exquisit version of katmer, no pistachio in it but cinamon. It’s lighter in taste – preparation process is a little different – and truly worth trying. By the way, the right season for the best katmer is spring… Because natural kaymak tastes real good in spring.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    how interesting. i passed by kilis last time i drove to gaziantep from aleppo. wish i’d known about the cinnamon version. will try it next time i’m there.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Thank you I enjoyed your video and was mesmerized by the technique. Hope someday to taste.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    you should. it’s an amazing pastry.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    c’est superbe!!!! magnifique geste, identique a celui du mar’ou’ ou meme de la pizza. je crois que je vais commencer a m’entrainer a le faire…


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    ce n’est pas tout a fait identique. en fait, la technique est assez differente. n’empeche, c’est incroyable et si tu arrive a le faire, ce serait aussi incroyable.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Hey Anissa, loved this post. It’s feteer meshaltet by the way. Still one of my favorite things to eat in Egypt.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    thx sarah. it was my daily lunch when i was in cairo 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    I see lots of videos, but can not find a recipe for katmer.

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