In Morocco, these pastries are mostly known under the name of chebakia or chebakiya (الشباكية). In Fez, and in some other cities such as Rabat and Salé, they are also called mkhar9a, mkherka, mkharqua or mkharka (المخرقة).
In Agadir, in the southwest of Morocco, you will find another version called bouchnikha (بوشنيخة), chebakiya khyout or 5yout (الشباكية خيوط). These bouchnikha that are prepared with fewer ingredients and shaped with a pasta maker or pasta roller are a bit harder than the traditional chebakia which are fairly soft in texture. The name bouchnikha comes from a traditional toothpick used in Morocco.
How to make griouech
To make griouech, a special utensil which can take many forms, is often used. Either a cookie cutter to cut dough squares, a fluted pastry wheel, or a special pastry wheel with 5 to 6 wheels.
The basic form of griouech is a square with inner slits (generally 4 to 6). Starting with these squares, you can shape several types of grioueche or chebakia for quite different visual results. The most traditional form for grioueche more or less resembles an elongated braid.
Traditional chebakia, meanwhile, is more like a flower and particularly a rose. Actually, the rose symbolizes “respect and love” during Ramadan.
Other shapes can be created. There is event another version of this pastry called chabakiya blighat or bligha (الشباكية بليغات) whose shape is the traditional babouche slipper.
Another variant of chebakia is called halwa mja3ba (الحلوة المجعبة). This popular version is curiously only prepared by men. The dough is generally set aside for more than 20 hours, which allows it to triple in volume. The dough is then pushed through a thin funnel before being fried. The result is rather similar to jilapi (zlabia).
Although there will surely be exceptions in some families or regions, it appears that the chebakia includes some ingredients that are not often found in traditional griouech recipes, including spices such as cinnamon, aniseed or saffron, or baker’s yeast instead of baking powder, mastic gum, as well as ground sesame seeds which are incorporated into the dough.
Saffron is used for taste but also to give some color to these pastries. Carrot peels can also be added into the cooking oil.
North African and Middle Eastern pastries are often drenched in a syrup commonly called honey, but that is generally nothing more than simple syrup, often flavored with orange blossom water, lemon or orange zest. For griwech, real honey is actually used. It is combined with orange blossom water before being heated to liquefy.
- 4 cups flour
- 10 tablespoons butter (or margarine), melted
- 1 egg , beaten
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ tablespoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ cup water (more or less)
- ¾ cup honey
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and mix for 1 minute.
- Pour melted butter and beat for a few minutes until incorporated.
- Add the vinegar, orange blossom water, and beaten egg. Beat for 2 minutes to mix well while adding water to obtain a smooth dough.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand 5 to 10 minutes.
Form 3 to 4 balls. Spread each ball with a roller pin to a thickness of about ⅛ inch (3 mm). It is also possible to use a pasta roller.
Cut small squares using a pastry wheel and make 4 to 5 incisions inside these rectangles. Alternatively, make the square cuts with the special mold or with the special griouech or chebakia pastry roller.
- Place a square in the left hand, then insert the pointing finger of the right hand between the odd strips (one strap in front, one strap behind, etc).
- Take the lower left corner and insert it inside the strips by picking it with your right thumb and pointing finger. Take the top right corner with the left hand and spread both hands outward to form a sort of elongated braid.
- Repeat the same operation with each ball of dough until there is no more dough.
- After all the griouech are formed, deep fry them over medium heat for about 1 minute. Turn them over halfway so both sides turn golden. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towel.
- Pour honey and orange blossom water in a saucepan. Cook over low heat for a few minutes to liquefy the mixture.
- Dip each griouech in melted honey and place in a large dish. Sprinkle both sides of each pastry with lightly roasted sesame seeds.