In Morocco, briouats (or briwats) are triangle-shaped stuffed pastries with savory or sweet fillings such as minced meat or almond paste. They are traditionally made with a Moroccan pastry called warqua, which translates into “paper” in English and refers to the dough’s paper-thin texture. In Morocco, warqua sheets are usually sold in the souk and rarely made at home.
The best alternative to warqua is phyllo pastry. Phyllo is usually just as thin as warqua; the main difference between the two is the way they are prepared before being used. Phyllo pastry is completely raw before cooking, while warqua is lightly cooked to hold its shape. As a result, phyllo is slightly less robust but, when handled with care, still makes a fine substitute.
The savory filling for these briouats consists of ground beef, onions, red and green bell peppers, garlic, ground cumin, and sweet paprika. This particular combination of ingredients and spices is very common in Moroccan cuisine, including salads or tagines.
Caramelized onions and red bell peppers lend sweetness to these briouats, while an assortment of fragrant spices—paprika, cumin, coriander—provide an additional layer of flavor. Serve them as a starter with a green salad on the side or as a finger food for parties. Though the harissa and mayonnaise sauce is optional, I recommend it if you’d like to have a spicy dip for your briouats.
For the Filling: In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid evaporates, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
Add red and green bell peppers, parsley, paprika, ground cumin, ground coriander, salt, and cayenne (if using) and cook, stirring often, until peppers are soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add ground beef and cook over medium heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and all the liquid has evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, then adjust seasoning, adding more salt if necessary. Cool filling to room temperature, about 30 minutes; alternatively, transfer filling to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Once filling has cooled to room temperature, strain the filling if you notice a large amount of pooled oil (this may not be necessary, unless the meat had a very high fat percentage).
Meanwhile, for the Sauce: Whisk together mayonnaise, harissa, and water in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Set aside or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
To Assemble and Cook: Unroll the filo pastry sheets and, using a sharp knife, pizza wheel, or scissors, cut them into 6- by 11-inch strips. Cover filo strips with a damp towel until ready to use to prevent them from drying out.
Place one filo strip on a clean work surface, with the short side facing you. Fold it in half like a book, bringing the left edge to meet the right edge, to create a strip that is 3-by-11 inches. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling (about 20g) about 1 inch from the bottom of the strip towards the right side. Fold the left bottom corner of the filo strip over filling to tightly enclose and form a triangle. Continue folding the triangle, flipping right and then left until you reach the end of the strip. Use a sharp knife or scissors to trim any excess filo pastry. Place folded briouats seam-side down on a tray and cover loosely until ready to fry. Repeat with remaining filo strips and filling.
In a Dutch oven or high-sided skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until oil reaches 350°F (180°C) on an instant-read thermometer. Working in batches, carefully transfer briouats to the oil, placing them folded side down. Fry briouats until the underside is golden, then flip the briouats over and continue frying until both sides are golden and crisp, about 2 to 3 minutes in total. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to transfer briouats to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all the briouats are fried.
Serve briouats immediately with sauce.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The premade filling will keep for up to 2 days refrigerated.