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Phyllo Pie with Potatoes, Leek & Olives (Banitsa)

Today's recipe is for Phyllo Pie filled with Potatoes, Leek & Black Olives!

Such a filling dinner or lunch to have, and it's pretty easy to make which again is such a big plus for our usually busy days.

But the greatest thing about it is that it doesn't seem to be as simple as it is, so you can amaze your guest or loved ones :)

Enjoy the recipe along with Banitsa history ;)

In Bulgaria, banitsa is a symbol of Bulgarian cuisine and traditions.

Traditionally, Bulgarians prepare and serve banitsa on two holidays – Christmas and New Year's Eve. These days, people add kusmeti (literally lucks, meaning fortunes, lucky charms) into the banitsa. The charms are usually small pieces of dogwood branch, which vary in numbers of buds on them. They symbolize health and longevity. The branches are hidden inside the banitsa, and the banitsa is then baked. When ready, the banitsa is cut to as many pieces as the members of the family are and each piece contains a dogwood branch. Two additional pieces of banitsa are cut - one for the house and another one for Virgin Mary who is the protector of the family. A wish is associated with each branch and the different number of buds on the branch helps to recognize the corresponding wish. The wishes include happiness, health, success, travel, etc. The banitsa is then spun on the table and everyone takes the piece which is in front of them when the spinning stops. Then they find their fortune inside the piece – the fortunes predict what one is to expect from the new year. The most common fortunes are "health", "love", "marriage", "baby", "journey", "wealth", etc.

Alternatively or in addition to the kusmeti, some add a coin or simply little pieces of paper with written fortunes on them (just like the ones in the fortune cookies). In this case, they are wrapped in tin foil to preserve them during baking.

The word "banitsa" is used as a simile for something (mainly documents and paperwork) creased, or badly maintained. For example, a police officer can make a remark to someone about letting his or her passport "become like a banitsa" (станал е на баница); a teacher might say this about a pupil's notebook. The same can be said about a very badly crushed car after an accident. *source

Prep: 25 min

Cook time: 45-50 min

Level: average

Servings: 8 portions

Calories per serving: 488 kcal

Find the recipe & nutrition facts below :


  • 1 package phyllo dough (500 gr.)

  • 5-6 medium potatoes (peeled)

  • 1 leek (chopped)

  • 1 large onion (chopped)

  • 4-5 tbsp of oil

  • 15 black olives (chopped) or 2 tbsp black olive paste

  • 4 tsp salt

  • 2 tsp black pepper

  • 2 tsp garlic

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp savory

  • 1 tsp fenugreek


Step 1: Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Place the chopped onion and leek and fry for around 7-9 minutes until golden brown.

Step 2: Grate the potatoes.

Step 3: Place them in the frying pan and add in spices and black olives, stir carefully and turn off the heat.

Step 4: Preheat oven to 180C.

Step 5: Cover a deep baking tray with baking paper.

Step 6: Place 2 sheets of filo pastry, spread evenly around 3 tbsp of the cooked mix, and roll into a roll place onto a baking tray as is shown in the picture. Repeat with the remaining pastry.

Step 7: Grease evenly with oil. If you like it less crispy you can pour 1/2 cup of water around the edges.

Step 8: Place your pie in the oven and bake for around 45-50 minutes.



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