My mom used to make the best Moroccan Msemen. She would start early in the morning, mixing and kneading the dough by hand until it was just right. Then she would carefully shape it into little balls, ensuring each one was perfect.
The secret to her success was in the way she handled the dough. Also, she always used good-quality flour, which made all the difference.
If you’ve never had Msemen before, you’re in for a treat. These traditional Moroccan pancakes are made from a soft, fluffy dough and cooked until they’re golden brown. They’re usually served with melted butter honey or syrup, but they’re just as delicious on their own.
The good news is, you don’t need to be a Moroccan chef to make them at home. With this easy-to-follow recipe, anyone can make perfect Moroccan Msemen.
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Authentic Msemen recipe vs other forms of bread
You may find lots of recipes on the internet that claim to be for Moroccan Msemen, but they’re actually not. The difference is in ingredients and the process of making it.
Authentic Moroccan Msemen has one and only way of making it which is the one I will be sharing in this post.
Other recipes you’ll come across include:
Msemen with semolina: The Moroccan recipe does not include Semolina in the dough but rather as a sprinkle (and it’s not necessary). You can make Msemen without Semolina.
Msemen with yogurt: I guess it’s an Algerian recipe for Msemen. Again, the authentic Moroccan recipe for Msemen does not include yogurt.
Fried Msemen: We don’t fry Msemen. If we do, we will be making Rghif (Rghaif) which is another delicious Moroccan snack. Msemen are traditionally baked in a pan on top of the stove.
When it comes to ingredients, Msemen is one of the most straightforward Moroccan recipes you’ll ever come across. For the dough, you will only need flour, water, a little salt, and olive oil (optional).
For the folding, and cooking stage you will need vegetable oil or melted butter. You can also use a mix of both.
Making Msemen dough
The hardest part about making Msemen is getting the right consistency for the dough. The dough should be soft and pliable, but not too sticky. If it’s too sticky, it will fall apart when you’re shaping it.
The secret to a good consistency of the dough is rest. Once you nicely mix all the ingredients, cover the bowl or container with an airtight cover and let it sit for at least 30 to 40 minutes.
If you don’t have a container that closes airtight, then you can cover it with a stretch film.
After the resting period, the dough should be easier to work with.
The folding stage of Msemen
There are various ways of folding Msemen. The most common one is the four-fold method. Msemen comes in two shapes, square and round.
The square shape is the most common, but the round ones are gaining in popularity. No matter what form you choose, the result will be the same, a delicious Msemen.
In this recipe, I will be sharing the four-fold method, and it will give you square-shaped Msemen.
What kind of flour to use for Msemen
This is really important because the flour is what decides whether your Msemen will be light and fluffy or tough and dense. Trust me I have tried many types of flour, and the best one to use is good quality unbleached flour.
I can’t give you the names of flour brands because they vary from country to country. But, a good rule of thumb is to look for flour that’s labeled “unbleached” and has a relatively high protein content (10-12%).
Msemen call for a lot of oil and/or butter
This may sound unhealthy which it is, but it’s actually necessary to get the Msemen nice and crispy on the outside while keeping them soft on the inside.
So, if you’re trying to be healthy, don’t try and make Msemen without oil or with less oil because the result won’t be Msemen. You will get something for sure but not a crispy Moroccan Msemen.
Moroccan Msemen Recipe
For the dough:
- 500gramsof cake flour,more as needed
- 1teaspoongranulated sugar
- 1teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2cupswarmwater,more if needed
- 1 1/2cupsvegetable oil
- 1/2cupfine semolina
- 1/4cupunsalted butter,melted or softened
- Salted butter, honey, or jam
- Gather all the ingredients
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add warm waterand mix to form a dough. Don’t add all the water at once. Add it gradually as you’re mixing to avoid getting sticky dough.
- The dough should be soft and easy to handle. If you think the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little bit of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Put it in an airtight container, grease the dough with the tablespoon of olive oil, and let it sit for at least 30. After the resting period. By doing this you will avoid the kneading process.
- After the resting period, the dough should be very soft and with the oil, you added it will be easy to handle as well. Now, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, and divide it into small balls.
- The balls should be the same size. To do this try this easy method. Take half portion of the dough, and roll it to form a long snake. Using a sharp knife, cut into 3-4 cm pieces.
- Do this with all the balls of dough. cover with a clean kitchen towel and let them relax for 10 minutes while you’re preparing the cooking area.
- Start with the first ball you shaped, use oiled hands to flatten and spread it into a very thin circle. Make it as thin as possible without breaking the dough. If you see a small hole or two it’s okay, they’ll beconcealed when the dough is folded.
- Now using a brush or your hands spread the melted/ softened butter evenly over the entire surface of the dough, and sprinkle with semolina.
- Fold one-third of the dough towards the center then fold the other side over it. You should now have a long and narrow strip of dough.
- Again, using a brush or your hands spread the melted/softened butter over the surface of the trip, and sprinkle with semolina.
- Fold one end of the strip towards the center, and then fold the other end over it. You should now have a square-shaped dough.
- Press lightly with your fingers to seal the edges.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Pick the square you shaped, flatten it by tapping it with your fingers then place it in the hot pan.
- Cook for about 2 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown then flip and cook the other side. Do the same with the remaining dough in order.
- Serve hot Moroccan mint tea and spreads of butter, honey, or jam. Enjoy!
Fatima was born and raised along the foothills of the Atlas mountains in central Morocco, in the heartland of the indigenous Amazigh peoples. She’s an avid reader and Moroccan tea drinker, no surprise. She is an engineer by profession but nowadays spends most of her time traveling and writing about Morocco.