Today, I made some Maarek, a delicious traditional flat, square (crêpes) and similar to Indian Paratha. They are popular in Algeria and North Africa in general. The name varies from regions to regions.
They are made with two ingredients, fine semolina and water. Some mix semolina and flours, in my family we only work with fine semolina.
In Algiers the capital city of Algeria, they are called Maarek. In other regions in North African countries they are named Msemen, Rghaif, Semniyette…They are delicious, prepared in the morning for breakfast or in the afternoon for tea time. Served with café au lait or an aromatic mint tea.
The savory version is called M’hadjeb and they are filled with onions, tomatoes and green chili peppers. (I will post the recipe very soon)!
For the dough:
-400g of fine semolina
-300ml of water at room temperature (more or less depending of the quality of your semolina)
-A bowl with a mix of sunflower oil and melted butter.
-In a large bowl add the semolina and the salt.
-Mix with your fingers.
-Pour slowly the water and knead with your hands until you obtain a smooth and soft dough (not sticky but elastic dough), I suggest you to pour step by step the water.
-Knead for about 20minutes (you can do the same procedure with the bowl of your stand mixture).
-Cover the dough with a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight (it’s better to prepare the dough one day before).
-The following morning remove the dough from the refrigerator.
-Clean a large surface of your countertop.
-Oiled your hands with some sunflower oil.
-Grasp a portion (the size of an egg) of dough and squeeze off a ball between your thumb and forefinger or divide the dough into small balls and put them on a large oiled tray.
-Proceed the same way with the rest of the dough (oil the top of each balls) cover with a clean kitchen cloth for about 30minutes.
-After 30 minutes, oiled a clean surface, grasp one ball, dip the ball into the bowl with sunflower oil and melted butter (you should always oiled your hands to work with the dough).
-Using the palm of your two hands, flatten and spread the dough into a large circle of 40/50 centimeters (delicate procedure and it’s fine if you see some holes on the dough).
-Fold one side of the dough into the center, then fold the opposite side into the center to make a narrow strip of dough.
-Fold one end of the strip of dough to the center.
-Fold the opposite end of dough to the center to make a square (set aside on the oiled tray).
-Repeat the same procedure with the rest of the balls.
-Heat a large frying pan over low heat.
-Take a square of dough, and pat it with the palm of your hand to flatten it.
-Place the Maarek in the center of the pan and cook them on a low heat, turning over several times, until golden brown, (be patient).