Azou Bouilouta's Spinach and Potato Bourek

24 January 2019 Azou Bouilouta

Azou Bouilouta's Spinach and Potato Bourek

Azou Bouilouta's Spinach and Potato Bourek


Makes 26 bourek

3 large floury potatoes (approx 750g), peeled and diced

40g unsalted butter

1½ teaspoons salt flakes

½ teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

5 cups (150g) baby spinach, roughly chopped

⅛ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

190g brik or filo pastry

1 free-range egg, lightly beaten

canola oil, for shallow frying

⅓ cup (95g) Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon harissa paste

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped



Place diced potato in a steamer over a pot of boiling water, cover and cook for 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove from heat, drain and return potato to pot with butter, salt and ground coriander. Mash potato until mixture is smooth and set aside to cool.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add garlic, sauté for 2 minutes, before adding spinach and nutmeg. Cover and cook for 2 minutes or until spinach has just wilted. Remove from heat, place spinach mixture in a medium mixing bowl and set aside to cool.

Cut six sheets of pastry in half lengthways and then in half across, to create 24 rectangular sheets, roughly 14cm wide by 20cm long.

Place 1 tablespoon of potato mash along one 14cm end of pastry, allowing a 1cm border at each end. Place a strip of spinach beside the potato and fold the ends in over the mixture, to encase. Starting at the filling end, roll up to create a cigar and brush ends with beaten egg to seal. Repeat process with the remaining mixture.

Preheat oven to 130°C (110°C fan-forced).

Heat canola oil in a sauté pan, about 1cm deep over medium heat. Shallow fry bourek, turning regularly for an even colour as pastry will brown quickly. Remove from pan and place on a tray in preheated oven to keep warm.

To serve, place yoghurt and harissa in a serving bowl, stirring gently to combine. Place bourek on a platter with the yoghurt dipping sauce and sprinkle with flat-leaf parsley.



To add extra flavour to the bourek filling try adding fresh herbs (parsley, mint, dill), lemon juice and zest, cheese (grated haloumi, cheddar, gruyere), cooked onion, spring onions, nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios) or currants.


Azou says…

We lived in the mountains in the east of Algeria. Life was simple but difficult as the war with France had just been fought and the country was trying to get back on its feet. Despite this, the rhythm of life continued – the cows were milked, the olives picked and the children laughed.

Algeria is a country of hosts! When you tend and harvest the crops, the products are for all to share. Food is not just fuel, it binds the community and gives hope and economic stability. My family owned olive, almond and cork trees, so all my family were busy, all year round.

I grew up making bourek. It’s a great way to get kids interested in cooking, as the preparation and assembly is a real family affair. All day during Ramadan we would look forward to chorba (lamb and vegetable soup) and potato bourek. Everyone had their specific task when preparing the meal to share at the table. It’s a classic Algerian recipe, introduced by the Turks during the Ottoman Empire.

Bourek can have a multitude of fillings. This vegetarian version can change to minced lamb with cinnamon or spinach with soft cheese or tuna with sweet potato. Either way, I love the contrast of the crisp outside to the aromatic softness of the potato and silky spinach inside. We cook with spinach a lot, especially on our breakfast menu at our stall Le Souk at Adelaide Central Market. It’s rich in nutrition, partners well with many different flavours and is especially good with our coriander salt. Whatever you do, don’t overcook it, or you’ll lose the life of the plant!

I love how the market is a melting pot of cultures. One day, a passing tourist stopped to watch customers eating at our stall. I approached with a medjool date, to welcome him. He gladly accepted the date but was not interested in my explanation, saying, “If you have Indians, Chinese and Australians all eating at the same table, the food must be very good. Let me try, too!”

>> Visit Azou Bouilouta at Le Souk, stall 10, Adelaide Central Market. The market celebrates its 150th birthday on 23 January.

From The Big Issue Edition #578

Photo by David Sievers