If you love hash browns, you’ll adore our hash brown potato pie. Finished in 60-min or less, topped with sour cream and minced garlic, it’s a pie unlike any other!
Fess up, you love hash browns! And if you are anything like me, you’ve had plenty of Saturday mornings when you’re craving that McD’s breakfast mostly for the hash browns that hide in that white-red-yellow bag. (I can’t believe I just admitted to that!) In any case, kljukuša is basically a hash brown pie (potatoes mixed with flour and onions and then baked), so you can upgrade your breakfast to an afternoon meal. Add to that some garlic, butter, and top with sour cream and you’ve got a very decent, quick lunch.
Like most of the diaspora – a rather large group of us that left at some point due to war but brought all of the Balkans with us – I visited Sarajevo once a year to see family and friends. I used those occasions to reconnect and confiscate as many impressions in as little time as possible. Those impressions would later appease my nostalgia (a bittersweet set of exaggerations which follow all of us like an identity dissociative disorder), during those hard hours somewhere in the strange new land when I used to ask myself, “What am I doing here?” knowing well enough it was the right strange new land for me to be.
This time is different though. This time I came to my strange old land to heal. The winter penetrated my entirety with pain. So I did what all of us do when life messes up so hard the only thing others can offer you is “Life works out in mysterious ways… this maybe happened because something wonderful is waiting for you!” I packed my bags and flew home to Sarajevo.
And Sarajevo hasn’t disappointed. The spring, except for a five day rain spell, has been lovely. People have been great… funny and welcoming, always with a dose of black humor dark as night. There have been stories similar to mine, a weekly dose of juicy gossip at the hairdresser’s, and 24 hour bakeries. There have been moonlight walks in the Vils, great music, and plays that would shame Broadway productions. (Except for the internet connection. Telemach I’m talking to you!) There’s also been an underlying current of pronounced apathy induced by the harshest drop into the market economy that is defining this part of the world with harsh tones.
And then there’s been the food. But instead of the regular ćevapi, pljeskavica and pita rounds, I am craving simple and solacing, happy meals. Like the hash brown pie kljukuša nicknamed kljuka, (kljuka because in Sarajevo everything has a nickname). Grate some potatoes, add an onion or two, some flour and lukewarm water and that’s really all there is to it.
I hope you find kljuka warm and comforting and happy as I do. I’ll be here a while and will check in with more native recipes soon.
- 2 pound potatoes (older potatoes)
- 2 medium yellow onions
- 3 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1.5 cups flour
- 1.75 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves
- Preheat oven to 480F. Oil the pan (one used here is about 20 inches in diameter). Leave in oven to warm up.
- Peel onions and potatoes, then grate together. Squeeze the mixture in batches to release as much starch as possible. Add salt, flour and water. Mix thoroughly. Transfer to the hot pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, turning the pan around every 15 minutes.
- Take out and spray with a little bit of water. Cover with a kitchen towel and let cool for 10 minutes.
- Warm up 2 tbsp of butter. Mince garlic.
- Break the pie apart into smaller pieces, and layer into a serving bowl. After each layer add a couple of tsp of butter and a little bit of minced garlic.
Serve with sour cream, yogurt and/or milk.