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Flat-out good

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Earth is round (all right, it's an oblate spheroid if we want to be pedantic), but flat breads rule the world.
They're found in just about every cuisine, they're not very difficult to make and a lot of the time, they're cooked on the stove which leaves the oven out of the equation – and my apartment not heating up like a sauna.
Flat breads are my current obsession and lunch of choice. These ones came about after I saw a recipe for a flaky and multilayered Moroccan flat bread called r'ghayef at Diplomatic Kitchen. Although I didn't follow the recipe to a T, I liked the way the dough was wrapped around the filling and then folded to give it multiple layers.
Stretch gently, and be sure to patch up large holes in the centre
The flat bread is made with a lightly yeasted dough which is pliable and can be stretched thinly like strudel dough – you'll be able to see through it. I do the stretching by hand, simply pressing it out and pulling the edges gently until it forms a rough square. If there are holes in the centre of the square, patch them up with a little dough pinched off from the edge.
The filling is spread on, the two sides are folded in and overlapped and then the top third is folded down. Finally, the bottom third if folded under – it forms an 'S' shape if viewed from the side. I haven't shown this very well in the step-by-step picture above, but if this is confusing, do go to Diplomatic Kitchen for a better view.
Another way to make these filled flat breads is to simply roll them up like a Swiss roll and twirl them into snail-shell-shaped spirals as shown in my post on sourdough roti.
I used the curry leaf powder I posted on recently in the filling of one of the breads. Some it was stirred into softened butter (about a tablespoon of each) and that's the green paste seen in the picture.
Another filling was leftover minced beef curry. This made something like the Malaysian murtabak (variations are found elsewhere in the world, of course), which is often served with pickled onion – steep thinly sliced red onion in a mixture of white vinegar, sugar and salt (all to taste). They turn a bright pink after a while, although my onions (below) aren't so bright any more after they had spent a few days in the fridge. The lesson from this is to make just enough for the meal so there are no leftovers.
Filled with leftover curry and served with pickled onion
Flat Bread Dough
Makes 2 layered flat breads

125g all-purpose flour
Large pinch of salt
Large pinch of yeast
100ml water, approximate
1 tbsp butter, softened

Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a mixing bowl. Add almost all the water and stir into the flour, adding more water as needed so that there are no dry bits. Bring the mixture together into a rough ball.
Spread the softened butter on the ball and knead in until fully incorporated. On a work surface, continue kneading until it forms a soft and pliable dough, 10-12 minutes. Return dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside to double in size. Because of the small amount of yeast in the dough, it may be best to place the bowl in a large plastic bag and in the fridge to proof overnight.
A note on cooking
After the breads have been filled and folded, leave them aside for about 10 minutes for the dough to relax. Heat up a frying pan or tawa on high heat and lightly oil the surface. Place the bread in the pan and turn down the heat to medium. Using a metal spatula, press the bread so that it flattens and expands outwards. When the bottom is browned, flip it over to cook the other side.


  1. Such a beautiful bread I love it when I find unusual ways of shaping bread, and yours looks absolutely delicious, Jane!

  2. hmmm...homemade flat bread, looks really delicious! The last photo is so tempting!


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