Msemmen is a wonderful North African laminated pancake or bread. It can be enjoyed plain, served with honey or filled with different mixtures. Similar panfried bread can be found in Asia (i.e paratha in India)
We love Msemmen so much that we can have it any time of the day along with a glass of Moroccan tea or any hot drink.
You actually can’t say you know about Moroccan food if you don’t know about Msemmen.
A recipe with a story
Today’s stuffed Msemmen recipe comes from a wonderful old family neighbour nicknamed “Tanjaouia“. Her bright smiling face and name always brings back so many sweet memories.
Thankfully, she’s still alive and it’s always a pleasure to see her whenever I’m back home as she comes to visit when she knows I’m around.
Tanjaouia must have been such a beautiful woman in her youth, her old wrinkled face can tell. It can also tell that she’s been through a lot in her life. I vaguely remember that she’s lost her husband when I was still little and she went on to raise 6 children, most of them succeeded in their lives and started their own families.
She also managed to keep her little villa neat and looking good all these 30 years after her husband passed away..
The weirdest thing is that I really don’t know her real name. Tanjaouia just refers to her city of origin “Tangiers”. However, everyone called her so since I was little. I do know that she had the best green oranges in her garden and the best backyard where a variety of herbs grow with care. She also had a fig tree, a grape “dahlia” and a few other fruit trees. Most of all, she always had home baked sweets on the table.
I paid her a visit a couple of years ago and it brought me 30 years back down the memory lane. The garden is almost the same. So is the kindness of this woman.
A bit of know-how
Tanjaouia’s stuffed Msemmen recipe is very simple as the filling does not need precooking or cooling time. It just needs some care when flattening the pancake so you don’t end up with many holes.
It’s actually not much of a recipe since I will only give you guidelines. Each msemmen is different in size and the filling depends on that really..
Onions and tomatoes msemmen recipe is not far from the stuffed ones we usually find sold across Moroccan cities for snack time (around 5 pm). Some omit the tomatoes and some add chopped long green peppers.
These stuffed Msemmens can be frozen and heated back in a hot oven or a hot frying pan.
Makes 3 msemmens (about 20 * 20 cm squares)
Prep: 30 min – Cooking: about 5 min/Msemmen
250 g of strong white bread flour
150 g of fine semolina flour or durum flour
1/4 tsp of dried instant yeast
1 tsp of salt
200-230 ml of water, lukewarm
For the filling (adjust if needed)
3 medium-size yellow or white onions, chopped or finely sliced (count 1/2 onion/msemmen)
Once you get to the level where you flatten the dough thin, ready for shaping, spread the filling in the center and shape the square. In this recipe, you don’t need to use butter during the lamination process, unlike a plain msemmen. You will only need oil and fine semolina flour. You can use a mix of olive oil and vegetable oil.
Flatten another dough ball paper thin, scatter some filling and place one previously filled square in the center. Fold to form a bigger square. Set aside to rest and follow the same logic with the rest of the dough.
Fry the pancakes
Heat a non stick frying pan over medium-heat.
Go back to the first square you made as it would have had time to rest. Flatten it delicately and transfer it to a hot frying pan. Give it 2 minutes per side then start flipping over to make sure it’s all cooked through. The dough changes colour and the layers split.
Usually, when one filled msemmen is cooking, we flatten the next one and so on…
Serve warm with a good glass of tea or a mint infusion.
If for some reason you are worried to pock them with many holes during the flattening process, shape them into small squares and bake them at 190 degrees C for about 20 minutes. The first day I made them, I chopped the onions and tomatoes fairly big, so I decided to bake the msemmens (which have become rghaifs). They turned out really good.
Nada Kiffa is an Expert in Moroccan cooking and her recipes are coming from a lineage of Moroccan home and professional cooks.
Cooking classes and posted articles are inspired by her family life in Morocco and elsewhere. You will learn what makes a dish Moroccan before learning how to execute it. You will also learn how to work around recipes and cut corners without missing on the flavour.
View all posts by Nada