Moroccan grilled liver kebabs/skewers (Kouah) with kidney and heart as an option

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Liver kebabs/skewers served in a fast food joint in Morocco. If you are in a hurry,
you can also order a sandwich with salad and kebabs on the go with harissa

Moroccan rghaifs with an oline in the middle

Traditional Moroccan Rghaifs with spiced onion and Khlii


I love having these baked onions and khlii Rghaifs for lunch. Actually, one of my aunties makes them better than anyone else in the family. She makes them about 8 cm square with a fine layer of dough. Perfection! Whenever she invites me for lunch, she knows I’ll ask for them. So it became a tradition. My mother comes second in the family when it comes to making these..


Anyway, Rghaifs with spiced onion and khlii are a bit heavy. They’re served for lunch as a starter, hot with a hot glass of Moroccan tea. Any dish that comes after should be really light. We never served them with cold salads. Khlii and its sediments called agriche (a must in this recipe) contain a bit of fat, so a cold salad and these filled laminated pancakes will clash in your stomach.

We make extra Rghaifs and we freeze them for another day. They just need to go to a hot oven (without thawing them).

This is a family recipe ..

A new way of shaping Rghaif

For 15-20 small Rghaifs
Prep: 60 min / Cooking time: 20 min

Rghaif/Msemmen dough

  • 250g of strong white flour
  • 250g of fine semolina flour
  • A pinch of dried instant yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 260-280 ml of water, lukewarm

For laminating the Rghaifs

  • 100 ml of vegetable oil
  • 200 g of fine semolina flour

Extras for finishing and baking

  • 1 egg yolk for egg wash (optional)
  • Oil for the baking trays

Khlii and onion filling

  • 4 medium-size onions, grated or finely chopped
  • 200g of khlii shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 6 tbps of agriche (mostly the sediments)
  • 4 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbps of sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Pepper




Make the filling

Place a pan over medium heat. Fry the onions in a bit of Khlii’s fat. When the onions become transparent and cooked through, add the remaining ingredients and stir. Set away from the heat.Set aside to cool.

Make Rghaif/Msemmen dough

Mix all ingredients with 3/4 of the water. Knead for 10 minutes by machine or 20 minutes by hand Add the 1/4 of water progressively during the kneading process when needed.

The dough should be smooth and kneaded to a perfect elasticity. Cover and set aside to rest for 15-20 minutes so the dough relaxes a bit.

Shape onions and Khlii Rghaifs

Oil your hands, make balls the size of an apricot and smear them with oil. Place all the dough balls in an oiled tray.

Cover with foil or cling film while you prepare the work top and preheat the oven at 180 degrees.. Store them on a table or an oiled tray.

Roll the balls one by one with the palm of the hand and then with oiled fingers gently stretching the dough in all directions until it is thin (transparent) and spread evenly. Sprinkle with fine semolina flour (optional).

Classic method of folding small stuffed Rghaifs. They should
be filled generously. (Here: the stuffing is with vegetables)

Place a couple of tablespoons of filling and shape a Rghifa square by folding the opposite sides on each others. At this stage, the filled square should be no more than 6 cm large.

A modern way of shaping Small Rghaifs (here with onion and agriche only)

Place on a baking sheet and leave about 15 cm space around each Rghifa. Flatten slightly and brush with egg wash (optional). They should be around 10 cm large by now.

Baking Rghaifs

Make preheat the oven to 180-200 degrees C depending how big the oven is. Bake for about 20 min until golden from top and bottom,

You will need a good glass of tea with mint to digest ..


Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta filling

Moroccan baked Rghaifs with seasoned Kofta (ground beef)


These savoury-filled and baked Rghaifs make a nice starter when shaped in 10 cm squares but can make a meal if served slightly bigger.

Stuffed Rghaifs with ground meat are served for a lunch of an afternoon snack along with a hot glass of Moroccan tea.

A R’ghifa (singular for Rghaifs) should be well baked from the bottom, crispy all around while soft from the inside. No soggy bottom!


Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta filling

A big Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta filling. Credit @Nada Kiffa


Rghaifs, Msemmen or mlaouis

Now the post is about the Rghaifs but you can make Msemmens or Mlaouis filled with the same mix. You will just have to pan-fry them instead of baking them. Stuffed Rghaifs turn our better when the dough is without yeast

The reason why Rghaifs are easy to handle with such filling is because you don’t have to flatten them thin as for Msemmen. So the risk if pricking them is very limited. Tadaaa..But there are people who do this so well that get them neat even as Msemmen..

This Moroccan stuffed pancake or laminated bread is freezer-friendly after baking. Just put them back in a hot oven (without thawing) and you’ll have them back to their glory.

Before we start with the recipe, I have to warn on the fact that all fillings for Rghaifs, Msemmens and Mlaouis should be left to cool and squeezed or reduced from any excess of liquid in order not to damage the dough.


Serves 8
Prep: 40 min – Baking: 20 min

Msemmen dough

  • 250 g of strong white flour
  • 250 g of fine semolina flour (not the grits)
  • 250 -300 ml of water, lukewarm
  • 1 tsp of salt

Kofta filling

  • 450 g of ground meat (beef, turkey, lamb)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbps of salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • A good pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp of black pepper
  • 3 tbsps of chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsps of olive oil
  • Optional ingredients for filling: green olives, grated cheese, grated carrots, chopped peppers, harissa, chopped preserved lemons

For laminating Rghaifs

  • 100 g of fine semolina flour
  • 80 ml of vegetable oil


  • 3 tbsps of oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp of paprika
Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta and pepper filling

Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta and pepper filling. Credit @Nada Kiffa



Make the kofta filling

Mix the ground beef with all the spices and herbs. Work with your hands for about 2 minutes to combine.

Option 1: pre-cook the kofta filling

In a hot pan, add the oil, chopped onions and kofta in small pieces. Keep stirring and breaking kofta all the way until all is cooked and no juice is left.

Set aside to cool.

If you are using grated vegetables, add them after Kofta is broken to bits.

If you are using grated cheese and/or olives, add when the mix has cooled.

I like to add an extra tablespoon of chopped parsley when all the mix has cooled.

Option 2: Keep the kofta filling raw

As the Rghaifs bake, some of the dough will be infused with the juice from the kofta. It tastes even better but it takes a few more minutes to bake to make sure the outer layer will be crispy.

Make Msemmen dough

Prepare a Msemmen dough without the yeast following the standard recipe I posted here. Let the dough for 15 min (covered) before making dough balls.

Shape the Rghaifs

Place the filling in the middle of the first flattened layer and shape as for Msemmen.

Place the filled and slightly flattened square of Msemmen in another layer of flattened dough (see the part about coupled Msemmens in the same post). Slighly flatten the square.

Place all filled Msemmen in an oiled baking tray. Leave at least 15 cm around and between each one as we will flatten them further before baking.

Steps to shape Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta and pepper filling

Moroccan Rghaif or Rghayef with spicy kefta and pepper filling

Oil one hand with the paprika oil (listed for finishing) and delicately flatten the Rghaifs (not too much, you should still leave them with about 3 mm height).

Baking and serving

Preheat the oven at 190-200 degrees C. bake until they look golden and nicely crispy from all sides (top and bottom).

Serve warm with a hot glass of Moroccan tea.


Couscous Tfaya with sweet onions and sultanas

Couscous Tfaya with sweet onions and sultanas calls for a Qadra or Kadra method of cooking and making a broth. Tfaya is the sweet topping that comes crowning the couscous when it’s served.

Before we go further ahead, let’s remember what is a traditional Qadra spices and flavouring mix is about:

  • Onions,
  • Smen (Moroccan aged cured butter),
  • Oil,
  • Salt and pepper,
  • Turmeric,
  • Ginger (see the story of kadra on the original post about Qadra),
  • Saffron (optional),
  • A cinnamon stick for the sweet version of couscous.
Unlike the rest of North African cuisines, most of Moroccan couscous recipes are usually prepared without garlic nor tomatoes. A few types of herbs can be used, depending on the recipe. or none, such as in today’s recipe of Couscous Tfaya.

This couscous was not common in all Morocco. It’s safe to say that some cities are more into it than others. People have moved around with their recipes and now it’s widely known in the country. Ksar Lekbir (up towards the North of Morocco) has an interesting way of presenting it in multiple layers especially during Eid El Mawlid (In Remembrance of the Prophet’s birth).

Couscous Tfaya is also commonly prepared in Fez, Taza, Meknes. Deep down and towards the centre of Morocco, it’s rather the savoury versions of couscous that are really the thing.

My sister makes an amazing Couscous Tfaya and while I’m writing this recipe and using my old pictures I took in my London flat, I’m thinking to ask her to make a huge couscous during the weekend.
There is something special about eating a couscous in a family gathering, it just makes it taste better.
I went easy on the sugar so there is less caramelized topping than usual
So now that you should know what Kadra is about (see my last few posts about it), let me tell you a bit about Tfaya or T’faya.
In the rest of Morocco, Tfaya is a sweet topping from which the name of the dish comes from. It’s usually caramelized or confit of onions with dried raisins (sultanas) in some cases. It’s mostly flavoured with cinnamon.
However, in Fez, and besides the sweet Tfaya, we happen to have a savoury Tfaya. It’s made of lamb cuts which are slow-cooked until the meat is tender and melt-in-the mouth. These meat cuts will be topped with a reduced onion paste-like layer, hard-boiled eggs and fried blanched almonds. It’s a heavy hearthy yummy mix which we only serve during major happy events (Weddings, family gatherings. I’m not fan of red meat but I love this dish!
To make couscous Tfaya, the cooking happens in 3 stages corresponding to the 3 layers:
– A kadra for the meat and its broth
– A Tfaya for the sweet topping
– A steaming method for the couscous grains, ideally on the top of the kadra while it’s cooking.
We assemble the couscous and garnish it with hard-boiled eggs and whole or crushed fried almonds and serve it piping hot.
Like anything in sweet Moroccan dishes, sweet does not mean dead sweet but rather enough just to bring the sweetness of the vegetable out..It’s all in the balance, which is what makes a difference between a good dish we want to remember and one that we want to forget about.
My part
You could use pigeons instead of chicken as it was done the old days.

Serves  6/8 persons
Prep: 20 min – Cooking: 90 – 120 min
For the kadra
  • 1.500 g chicken, cut into 6 pieces and skined off (or nice chunks of lamb meat from the shoulder)
  • 200 – 300 g of onions, finely chopped
  • 200 g of chickpeas
  • 100 – 150 g raisins
  • 1 cinnamon stick, about 10 cm tall
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • A good pinch of saffron
  • 10 cl of oil
  • 1 tsp of smen (Moroccan aged and cured butter)
  • 1 tsp of white/black pepper mix
  • Salt

For the couscous

  • 500 g of fine or medium grains of couscous (we prefer the fine version)
  • 40 ml of oil
  • 500 -750 ml of cold water
  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of smen, (replace with the white part of blue cheese or just butter)
For the Tfaya topping 
  • 1 kg of onions, ideally yellow or white onions, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • A good pinch of salt
  • 100 – 120g sugar or 50%-50% sugar/clear honey
  • 3 tbps of oil
  • Additional ingredients according to Ksar El-Kbir’s recipe: 1 of each: smen, saffron, turmeric and black pepper 
  • 2 ladles of the sauce from the kadra (filtered without onions)
We always serve extra marka (broth) along with couscous should people
want to add more 
Pre-soak the chickpeas overnight. Soak the sultanas for 1 hour in warm water.

Make the kadra

Place the couscoussier (or double boiler) over medium heat.

In the bottom of a couscoussier, place a few tablespoons of water, spices except saffron, oil, meat or chicken and stir. Do not try to brown the meat or fry it or sear it. Just let the meat absorb all the spices for a few minutes but flipping it over. Make sure nothing burns at this stage. Not browning or searing the meat allows it to absorbs the spices and benefit from them and that’s how traditional cooking is always tastier and the meat remains tender.

Add enough water to cover the chicken (or meat). Add the chickpeas and cover. The red meat will take longer to cook so adjust the cooking time accordingly. Check for water level so the pot does not burn. You also need to keep about 500 ml of sauce in the end of the cooking process as we need it for the couscous.

Halfway of kadra cooking, start steaming the couscous.

Prepare the couscous

Most of us now buy a precooked couscous but most of Moroccans will never soak the grains and stir them after 5 min then serve them. A steamed couscous has absolutely nothing to do with that 5 min thing. A steamed couscous is fluffier and lighter. However, you can shorten the steaming times to 5 min each (multiply by 3).

All brands are not equal. At home, we do prefer Dari brand which I also find in London (sold in Turkish and North African groceries).

In Morocco, we use a traditional type of couscoussier (top right) or a sort of cone or a round
 recipient that we place on top of pressure cooker (such as this one bottom left).
It can be also been a steaming rice basket (Choumicha has featured women using it in many villages around Morocco)

I prefer to direct you to Christine Amina Belafquih’s amazing Moroccan cooking page for the steps to steam couscous. You can also watch the incredibly talented Chef Mourad Lahlou’s video on the subject (I tend to use the broth for the 3rd steams sometimes).

But before you head to the page, please read these points:

  • Never cover the top of the couscoussier while steaming couscous
  • While adding water to the couscous, do it gradually, when you feel that couscous has absorbed the previous addition. Let it cool for a few minutes and add more. Usually the first steaming requires about 200 ml, the second requires more (about double) and even more in the 3rd steam…But you still have to be careful and adjust according to the brand used.
  • Observe the cooking time
  • Make sure the water or broth from the bottom couscoussier does not get to the couscous grains on top. When the pot is full, it tends to splash from inside and dampen the bottom grains, which is not good as they might overcook.
  • To break couscous lumps after each steaming time, make sure you do it delicately. Big lumps can be broken with a wooden spatula while small lumps require hands and feel, not forks and pressures.
  • Check the seasoning after you add smen and have the grains infuse with it. Like pasta, it’s not nice to serve a tasteless couscous, even the sauce can’t compensate for that.

Prepare the Tfaya topping

Slice the onions thinly, put them in a saucepan or deep skillet with a pinch of salt and the 2 ladles of filtered sauce from the kadra . Cook over low heat the onions are tender and all water has been absorbed, This step should take about 10-15 min on medium heat Covering the pan will help the onions cook through.

Some people prefer to boil the onions in water and discard it before caramelizing them since some types of onions can turn bitter. If you choose good sweet onions, boiling is not required.

Add the oil, cinnamon, sugar, raisins and let slowly caramelize, stirring occasionally. If you choose to make the Tfaya following the version of Ksar el-kbir city, add the other ingredients at this stage or even before.

Let caramelize and reduce for another 10 min at max.

Assemble and serve couscous Tfaya

Spread the couscous in a serving dish. We like to form a sort of well in the middle.

With a laddle full of sauce/broth/marka, go around and try to poor it all around so most of the couscous grains absorb some of it. Place the chicken cuts or the meat in the centre. Use a sort of frying spatula to fish chickpeans and spread them on the top of the meat.

Place a layer of tfaya on the top of the meat and finish off by sprinkling fried almonds and halved boiled eggs.


The couscous turns yellow once the sauce is added and the grains are
nicely infused with it. I also like to serve extra Tfaya on the side for those who want more.

Serve bowls of the Kadra sauce on the side for those who want their couscous wetter. You should never serve a very wet couscous but always serve extra broth on the side to adjust the texture to their liking.


Some people like me do not digest smen when it’s added in the end (in the grains). I suggest you add it to the sauce in the beginning of the cooking process. As for the bit related to the grains, add it before steaming the grains for the second time. The flavour will be there but It’s not overwhelming. Just nice.