Zatilas (Kurdish Grilled Stuffed Flat Breads)

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Have you ever heard of zatila? It is a grilled stuffed flatbread that is also known as kadeh (Take a look at this post and also this post on the Jewish Food Experience; also look in the comments to this post by Sarah Melamed and also look at this other post by her as well). It is easy to make, delicious and lends itself to endless variations. Even better, leftovers can be packed for lunch.

Two years ago, Shopmiami49 posted a recipe from her mother-in-law for “these Kurdish ‘pastries’” on Imamother.com. The recipe has remained popular on that site, with users continuing to post new ideas for fillings.

The idea is this: make a simple bread dough, roll it out thin, fill it with whatever you like, fold it and seal it like a calzone and then grill it on both sides in a hot skillet until the bread is cooked and the filling is heated through. It is best straight from the pan, but it is also good reheated. At least one Imamother poster says zatilas are “great to take to work for lunch the next day.”

The recipe reminds me of gozleme, which is a stuffed Turkish flatbread. According to Ghillie Basan, author of Classic Turkish Cookery, gozleme can be made by (1) cooking the dough as a flatbread and then folding the bread around the filling, or (2) by folding the dough around the filling and then cooking it. Gozleme are filled with (1) spinach and cheese, (2) potato and cheese, (3) roasted eggplant and cheese, or (4) ground beef. I think that these fillings would work with zatilas, too.

Imamother posters have, in fact, tried similar fillings with their zatilas. Most fillings are some variation on (1) sauce and cheese, (2) vegetables and cheese or (3) a hard cheese combined with a soft cheese like feta, cream cheese, sour cream or cottage cheese with or without vegetables. Other options: tuna melt zatilas or (for a fleishig version) ground beef cooked in tomato sauce.

Bonus: After making the Imamother.com recipe for zatila, I found a recipe by Leah Hadad on the Jewish Food Experience.  She got the recipe, fascinatingly enough, from Ariel Sabar, the author of My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Family’s Past.  Sabar’s father was from Zakho, an ancient Jewish Kurdish town in Northern Iraq. Sabar sent Hadad his grandmother’s recipe for kadeh.

The recipe makes a similar amount of dough to the imamother.com recipe and, similarly,  gets divided into 16 pieces. Each piece is rolled into a 5″ circle and is filled with a mixture of feta and gouda (about half an ounce of each per kadeh). Instead of being shaped into a half moon, the dough in wrapped around the filling and then pressed back down into a 5″-6″ circle (kind of like some versions of Georgian Khachapuri).

Zatilas
Adapted from Shopmiami49’s mother-in-law, as posted on Imamother.com. Makes about 15-20 zatilas. You can cut this recipe down, using just 2 1/3 cups flour, 1 cup water, 1 Tbl. yeast and 1 tsp. salt to make six zatilas.

dough:
7 cups flour (can use all or part whole wheat, if desired)
3 cups water
3 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 Tbsp. salt

Combine the flour, yeast, salt and water in a bowl and mix together until you have a smooth dough. You might need to add a bit more flour (up to one cup).

Cover the dough and it rise for an hour (this is even better if you let the dough rise in the fridge overnight).

To make a zatila, take a fist-sized ball of dough and roll it out thin on a floured surface. While the dough should be very thin, if you try to make it paper thin, the dough will stretch and tear when you fill it and the filling will spill out.On the other hand, if you make them too thick, the zatilas will be unpleasantly doughy. So, don’t overdo the rolling out thin part, but try to get them about 1/16″-1/8″ thick.

(Make ahead tip: someone posted to the Imamother.com thread about zatilas that they roll out the zatila dough in advance, spray each round of dough with cooking spray and then they freeze the rounds of dough for when they need them.)

Place filling on one half of the dough round and fold over the other half of the dough round to make a half moon shape. Pinch the edges to seal the zatila.

Heat a skillet over high heat. You do not need to grease the skillet. You can use a heavy skillet or a light-weight non-stick skillet. Place the filled zatilla on the hot skillet. Cook until the bottom is golden with brown spots. Flip over and cook the other side the same way.

I have tried this filled with (1) spinach and feta, (2) American cheese and tomato sauce (a cross between grilled cheese and a pizza pocket), (3) eggplant Parmesan (breaded and baked eggplant slices and tomato sauce) and (4) cream cheese and jelly (really, really good–like a toasted bagel with cream cheese and jelly, but better).

Users on Imamother have tried the following fillings:
Bulgarian and Feta cheese mix, olive oil, za’atar
roasted vegetables (like pepper, zucchini, onions and mushrooms) with or without feta and/or cheese
tomato sauce and cheese (pizza pockets)
pesto, sautéed mushrooms and onions
feta cheese, pesto, sliced black olives, purple onion, and tomato
cream cheese, tomatoes, onions
cottage cheese and yellow cheese with some zaatar and crushed red pepper
sautéed onion with tomatoes and sour cream
sautéed onion and grilled red pepper with yellow cheese, salt, pepper and cumin
sautéed broccoli and mozzarella
Sautéed mushrooms and onions with shredded cheese or cream cheese
Roasted peppers and zucchini with mushrooms and onions (with or without shredded cheese)
spinach and feta cheese… (“bulgarit”)
tuna, tomato and cheese (tuna melt)

One sweet version: butter, sugar, cinnamon

One meat version: ground meat browned with tomato sauce in a pan

And the most improbable filling suggested: leftover mac & cheese with sauce or ketchup

The Kosher Connection, an informal group of creative kosher food bloggers from all around the world, proudly present our monthly kosher recipe challenge.  Each month we will present you with recipes on a different theme from all the kosher food bloggers.

This month is Brown Bag!  Follow our recipes on Twitter with #KosherRecipes.

3 Responses to “Zatilas (Kurdish Grilled Stuffed Flat Breads)”

  1. Leora Says:

    Yes, my daughter would love this. Now, if Only I can get her to do the filling…

  2. Ordinary Blogger Says:

    Sounds amazing. The spinach / feta combo sounds divine. Bookmarking this to try soon…maybe with bought pizza dough if I’m lazy…

  3. Ester Says:

    This post has been included in the Elul “Kosher Cooking Carnival”
    Please come check it out at http://www.kosherfrugal.com/2014/08/kcc-kosher-cooking-carnival-for-elul.html

    Thanks for helping spread the word!

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