Monday, June 27, 2011

Msemmen - North African (Algerian) Flat Bread

You may have noticed that I jump around a lot from place to place. Like last week I wrote about a to-die-for cinnamon loaf, and the week before that it was cornbread. Now I am in North Africa, specifically Algeria with a bread the locals call msemmen that is sort of like a laffa, but soooo different. This one is rolled flat, then fried (like naan) with the oil and spice mixture INSIDE! This is 'peasant' bread and is popular with lamb dishes and all of those luscious dips from the Mediterranean like humus, and tehina and the roasted eggplant dips.It's a keeper believe me.

Here's What You'll Need:
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
3/8 Tbs. yeast  (1 full teaspoon)
1/4 Tbs.(a little less than 1 tsp.) kosher salt
1 Tbs. gluten
7/8 cup warm water
2 Tbs. olive oil

for the spice mixture:
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp.paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt for sprinkling on top
2 Tbs. olive oil for the skillet

Here's What You'll Need To Do:
1. Mix together the flour, yeast, gluten and salt.
Then, mix in the olive oil and enough of the water to make a soft dough. Knead vigorously for about 7 or 8 minutes to make the dough very smooth and only a little sticky.

2. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface, and form it into a ball. Then roll it out into a circle about 20cm (8 inches) in diameter and only a few millimeters thick (1/8 in).

3. Mix the oil and spice mixture then spread the oil and spice mixture over the surface of the dough almost to the edge.  Then roll it up into a log. Form the log into a spiral, and cover with a towel to rest, about 20 minutes.

4. Working with one spiral at a time, roll the spiral out into another disk, again only a few millimeters this (1/8 in).

5. Spread a little olive oil in a skillet, place this dough disk in the skillet when it is quite hot and cover, on low heat for about 3 or 4 minutes. Then flip the bread to cook the other side.

6. Store the 'cooked' breadson a plate covered with a towel.

7. These breads, called msemmen are delicious served still warm, and dipped in something hot and spicy.


  1. Those look incredible!

  2. They are!! Despite looking a little like Indian na'an, they are actually flaky and work great for sopping sauces or scooping up lamb or other meat dishes.