M’hencha are a North African pastry made with a dough called Diouls sheets or Brick sheets, and filled with almond paste. These sheets (diouls/brick) are on sale every where in Algeria (and also in other North African countries), as they are used for savory recipes, and many sweet desserts.
This pastry originates from the Ottoman Empire. Algerian cuisine has been heavily influenced by the Ottomans, since they stayed in Algeria from 1512 to 1830. M’hencha comes from the Arabic word Hench, which means serpent (snake). This is why the shape of this pastry is serpentined, filled with almond paste, then fried, and finally dipped into honey.
Serves 10 pieces
- 10 large leaves of Diouls or brick sheets (or 10 Phyllo dough)
- 250g almond powder
- 100g of caster sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
- 1 tablespoon of orange blossom water (or more)
- Sunflower oil (for frying)
- Honey (I chose acacia honey for this recipe, but you can use your favorite)
- 1 egg yolk
- In a large bowl, add the almond powder and the sugar.
- Mix with a fork.
- Add the cinnamon and mix.
- Slowly pour the orange blossom water until the dough becomes assembled, like almond paste and set aside.
For the M’hencha:
- Whisk 1 egg yolk and set aside.
- Take one sheet and add a little of the stuffing (a small roll of 10 centimeters) with a teaspoon at 3 centimeters off the edge of the sheet and loosely roll up the sheet as a spiral.
- With a brush, seal the overlapped edges of the Dioul with the egg yolk.
- Proceed the same way for the rest of your Diouls sheet.
- In a cooking pan, add a little of sunflower oil on a medium heat.
- Cook the M’hencha both sides until they become golden in color.
- Remove from the heat and drain it into a colander, set aside for 15 minutes.
- In a small cooking pot, add the honey, and cook on a low heat.
- When the honey is warm, dip the M’hencha, one by one into the honey.
- Remove from the pan and put them into a serving dish.
Decorate with ground almonds or pistachios on top. For a better taste, serve with a perfumed mint tea.
Bonne dégustation, saha ftourkoum!