Ramadan Mubarak! The "taste of Tunisia" from Ann Arbor's El Harissa
We are heading into our last week of the holy month, and Michigan Radio is wrapping up its cookbook with one last recipe you can break your fast with for Iftar.
This week's dish comes from El Harissa, located on North Maple Road in Ann Arbor. Khaled Houamed and his son, Yusef, welcomed Michigan Radio to their café and market for an off-menu, classic Iftar dish that is best served fresh and hot: Tunisian Brik and Fatima's Fingers.
Yusef Houamed, explaining the mix, called it the "taste of Tunisia."
El Harissa, named after a hot chili pepper sauce or paste, is inspired by North African cuisine — especially Tunisia and Morocco. There is also some food influence from Italy, France, and Spain, Khaled Houamed said.
Khaled Houamed was a professor and neurobiology researcher and worked in Copenhagen, and at the University of Chicago and the University of Michigan. El Harissa opened nine years ago, after he retired. But Houamed said he had always been cooking — he learned it during the holy month.
"I became a full-time cook in 1974, when my mom gave birth to my youngest sister," said Houamed, who also has three brothers. Laughing at the memory, he said, "it happened to be the first day of Ramadan. So I had to cook for the whole family for all of Ramadan."
It was his "crash course," Yusef said.
Want to see past recipes? Our first post included desi dishes can be found here. Week two showcased East African restaurant Baobab Fare in Detroit. Last week featured two treats from Booza Delight in Dearborn Heights. If you end up making a recipe we’ve shared, let us know! Share at @michiganradio on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.
- Potatoes - 1.5 lbs
- Harissa - 1-2 T, adjust to spice tolerance
- Kalamata Olives - 1/3 C, chopped
- Canned Tuna (best if brined in olive oil) - 1 can
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - 1/4 C
- Garlic (crushed or minced) - 2 T or 4 cloves
- Parsley (chopped) - A few sprig
- Lemon Juice - 2 T
- Kosher Salt - 1 T
- Ground Black Pepper - 1/2 T
- Phyllo sheets, Feuille de Brique, or Malsouka (you can also use spring roll pastry wraps)
- Eggs - 1 per Brik
- Oil for frying
- Optional: 1 Onion, diced and sautéed
- Optional: 1 T Capers
- For the mix: Boil your potatoes until they can be easily mashed. In a large bowl, mash the potatoes and add the tuna, parsley, chopped and pitted Kalamata olives, olive oil, crushed garlic cloves, lemon, and harissa, and season with salt and pepper. Stir.
- Take a sheet of pastry and fold it in half diagonally.
- Along the seam, make a half circle of the mix, such that a little pocket is made when the pastry is folded over it.
- Cover your frying pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to a low or medium heat, then gently lower the pastry into the oil and crack an egg into the pocket formed by the mix. Let it cook for a minute until golden and crispy, then flip over so the top half can crisp up as well.
- Serve it with a slice of lemon, some harissa, or a chopped Mediterranean salad.
- Do the same with the rest of your mix to make more!
- Alternatively, fold in two opposite sides of the pastry so that it resembles a long rectangle, add some of the mixture on one end of the pastry, then roll it up so it resembles an eggroll. Fry it just as you did with the Brik, and you have a Fatima Finger.
- Best eaten nice and hot! Enjoy the delicious egg filling.