Muachaka or Cardamom Phyllo Pastry has become a staple at almost every family gathering. It’s a baklava inspired dessert, with sheets of phyllo dough coated in clarified butter, and doused in a creamy mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, rose water and cardamom. We often eat it with gaimer, a type of clotted cream, and date syrup.
My brother has become the champion of Muachaka, religiously following a specific assembly process, and ousting my mother from her role as queen Muachaka creator. At every family gathering, my brother’s Muachaka is in high demand, and is usually the first dessert to finish. For this batch, I consulted the expert himself; you’ll see my brother’s hands in the photos below.
1 package phyllo dough
2 sticks butter, room temperature, for clarifying
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp rose water
2 tsp cardamom
1/2 sheet tray (roughly 13″ x 18″)
Clarifying butter is a process that removes the water and milk solids. Clarified butter has a higher burning point than regular butter. In a saucepan, place the two sticks of butter. On low heat, melt the butter and let it come to a gentle boil. A layer of foam will develop on the top; the foam is the milk solids. Scoop out the foam. Strain the melted butter with a cheese cloth or a damp paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. After you open the phyllo package, unroll the dough and cut it in half. Leave half of the dough covered, while you work with the other half. Phyllo dough dries easily and begins to crack, so make sure that the dough is carefully covered! One half-sheet at a time, gently gather the phyllo dough to form a bundle that resembles a flower. Place the bundles in the tray. Don’t press too hard, since you want the dough to stay fluffy. If it proves too challenging, simply fold the whole sheets of phyllo dough accordion style, and place them in the tray.
Repeat until you have used all of the phyllo dough, or until the tray is full. Put the tray into the oven, and bake the phyllo dough for 10 minutes.
Take the tray out of the oven. Slowly pour the butter over the phyllo dough, spreading it as evenly as possible. Put the tray in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
While the dough is in the oven, beat the eggs, sugar, cardamom, and rose water in a medium bowl. Slowly pour the milk into the bowl while stirring. Strain the mixture.
When the tray comes out of the oven, pour the egg-sugar mixture over the phyllo dough as evenly as possible.
Bake for another 10 minutes. After the im’ochika is done baking, sprinkle crushed pistachios over the phyllo dough. Let the tray cool for about 10 minutes, then slice the phyllo dough into squares. Enjoy!