Mahjouba are traditional Algerian pancakes, very popular as a street food in Northern Africa. These thick pancakes are made of semolina and folded into a parcel after being filled with caramelized onions and tomatoes. It is often paired with harissa sauce.
The semolina dough has to be worked until it is not sticky. I greased the inside of my food processor with olive oil and made it. It’s very difficult to do by hand. You either need a stand mixer or a processor.
My first attempt at making this was not as good as the professionals, though I was quite happy with the result. It reminded me of a sweet that we make here using semolina dough outside and a sweet coconut filling on the inside. It’s also flattened by hand and it’s a South Indian speciality called Ubbat.
I really liked the taste of the mahjouba. The tomato filling was very delicious. This recipe is from Saveur. This recipe makes around 12 crepes.
PREP: 11/2 hours COOK TIME: 45 minutes
6 medium sized onions, chopped finely
3 green chillies, chopped finely
2 medium carrots, chopped finely
¼ cup olive oil, plus more for greasing
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, drained
2 tbsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tsp turmeric powder
¾ tsp red chilli powder
1 cup fresh coriander, chopped finely
41/4 cups fine semolina
Crush the tomatoes by using a stick processor, so that they remain chunky.
Heat oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onions, chillies and carrots and cook stirring until they are soft and caramelized. Add the tomato paste and cook for a further three minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, turmeric and chilli powder. Cook the mixture until it becomes thick and slightly dry. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped coriander. Cool.
Combine two tablespoons salt with the semolina. Add two cups of water and stir to make a firm dough. Transfer to a stand mixer or food processor and mix until it is no longer sticky. Use some olive oil to grease the inside of your mixer/processor. Divide into twelve equal pieces, shape into balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.
Lightly oil a marble surface and working one at a time, flatten the dough balls using more olive oil into a disk using the heel of your hands until it is 1/6 inch thick. Gently pull the edges to stretch into a paper thin rectangle and place about 2 tablespoons of the filling in the centre. Spread the filling so that it covers the middle section of the rectangle. Fold the long sides of the rectangle over the filling and fold over the short sides, pressing to seal and enclose the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat and place a packet, seam side down and pat the crepes out into as thin a parcel as you can. Flip the crepe when it is browned on one side and repeat with the remaining packets.