Bulgarian New Year’s Eve Banitsa
1 packet of filo pastry
3 carrots (option)
125 g of yogurt (plain)
200 g feta cheese
100 g grated cheese (e.g. emmental, edam, else)
Butter and oil
1 shiny coin (meaning forthcoming fortune), a few buttons of dogwood (symbol of perfect health), 1 garment button (showing who would take on the household) and short wishes, noted on small pieces of paper (wishing things like “new car”, “baby” etc.)
If you plan to put carrots, peel and grate them. Then stew for about 10 minutes in 1 cm of water in a lidded saucepan. Drain and leave aside to cool.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the crumbled feta cheese and the grated emmental. Season with black pepper and stir in the carrots.
Melt the butter with a dash of oil (I prefer to do this in a hot water bath avoiding any greasy splashes in the microwave or on the stove).
Take 2 sheets of filo and place one over the other. Brush with butter and oil. Spread 2-3 tablespoons of stuffing lengthwise. Wrap it halfway in the form of a sausage and place 2 folded papers with short wishes (carefully wrapped in a piece of baking paper) in the opposite ends. Then finish rolling the sausage and fold round itself like a snail. Transfer into a medium-sized round baking dish, greased or covered with baking paper. Do the same with the remaining filo pastry sheets, the wishes and stuffing, wrapping each new “sausage” round the first “snail”.
Brush the top of the banitsa with butter and oil and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until beautifully browned on all sides.
My paternal grandmother used to serve this banitsa before the main course on the New Year’s Eve (or on the first meal of the New Year), cutting it into pieces like a cake. Before distributing the pieces, she used to rotate the dish several times.