Batbout beche’hmais a traditional stuffed flatbread with suet and spices from the Southern region, The Moroccan Sahara precisely.
We had neighbours originally from that part of Morocco and they had an old clay oven where they baked all their breads. Since they were just next door, they benefited from our fruit trees and we benefited from their specialities.
Cooking batbout beche’hma over a wooden fire is unbeatable. As I’m writing now, it brings back wonderful memories. You just need a good glass of Moroccan tea and you’re in a culinary heaven.
Our neighbours made this during Ramadan and this was part of the first meal of the day, on sunset. Then they used to serve dates and Harira. Their table was very humble but everything on it used to taste amazing.
My sister got their recipe of batbout beche’hma and since then we make it, not on a wooden fire, but at least we get 3/4 of the taste by reproducing the recipe of this wonderful and humble stuffed bread.
So don’t be put off by the use of animal suet and don’t look for a substitute. Basically, just try them out, piping hot. It’s just one of these things that just makes one feel happy!
Serves 4 to 6
Prep: 30 min – Resting time: 90 min – Cooking: 4 min/bread
The bread dough
- 250 g of strong white flour (replace half of it with whole wheat flour)
- 250 g of fine semolina flour
- 280 ml of water, lukewarm
- 1 tbsp of dried yeast, pre-mixed with 3 tbsps of lukewarm water for 2 minutes.
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 tbsp of oil
- 200g ground animal suet, taken from around the kidney (lamb, beef..)
- 2 small onions, grated
- 3 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (optional)
- 1 hot chili, finely chopped or hot chili powder (optional)
For the shaping
- 1/4 cup of oil
- 3/4 cup of fine semolina flour
- Mix flour with semolina, salt, yeast, then gradually add lukewarm water and knead for 10 min or more until you get a soft dough, not sticky. (If you have a bread machine, use program “dough”).
- Knead the dough until you have an elastic consistency, soft and smooth. Form a ball and cover. Let double in volume (about 1h).
- Using your hands, mix the fat, onion and parsley. Then make sure to press the mixture inside your hands to remove any excess of liquid from onions.
- Add the spices and mix well, again with the palm of your hands to combine as if you are kneading a dough.
Shape the stuffed batbout
- Make balls with the dough, the equivalent of 6 to 8 cm in diameter. Let rest for 15 minutes (covered)
- Oil your hands and flatten each dough ball. Put a little filling in the middle and pick up the dough al around towards the centre to close the ball tight.
|Filling and closing the dough ball.|
- Flatten them quite thin (3 mm) delicately. Place them on a cloth sprinkled with some semolina flour. Cover and let rest in a warm place for 20-30 mins.
|The batbout is flattened very thin.|
- Heat a heavy skilled or non-stick pan and cook/pan-fry each side for 2 min over medium heat. You could grease the pan (optional). You could prick the stuffed batbout, it will then release its own fat and cook in it.
- Serve warm or hot with a good hot drink such as Moroccan mint tea.
- Freeze any left batbout. When needed, warm it in a hot oven for a few minutes or over a pan (in this case, you need to thaw it).