Mutabbaq, meaning folded in Arabic, is a Middle Eastern stuffed flatbread that also seems to be popular in many countries in South Asia. In this particular version, I have decided on a filling of sweet potato and egg instead of the common meat filling. It’s like a breakfast hash inside of a flaky pastry, yum.
I am so glad to be able to take part in another MENA cooking club challenge. Each month, one Middle Eastern country is picked, and participants have a choice of creating 3 different dishes from said country. This month’s chosen country was Saudi Arabia and I decided to go for this savoury option. In places such as Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, mutabbaq may be known as murtabak and is sold as a popular street food.
If you have seen my Indonesian style fried noodles or my Thai chickpea curry, you’ll know that I am really into flavours from South East Asia at the moment, so I loved the fusion crossover of this dish.
I will admit, I decided to try and create this particular savoury dish because I thought it looked the easiest! In fact, the preparation of the pastry does take a little bit of time, however, it is actually quite fun stretching out the dough and the results are really tasty.
A lot of the recipes I saw used meat, but I decided to go the vegetarian route and use sweet potato, spiked with a little bit of chilli instead. Much of my online research indicated that the dough used for mutabbaq is similar to that of the popular roti canai.
In these kind of flatbreads, oil is used to create a stretchy and elasticated base before being folded up on itself. There is some resting times involved in making the mubtarak, with the particular recipe I used here suggesting overnight resting. The longer you leave the dough to rest, the stretchier it becomes. However, you can shorten it down to 1-3 hours if you are really pushed for time
I used a tawa to cook the flatbreads. I didn’t add any extra oil to the pan as I felt there was enough oil in the dough. You could use any other flat, preferably non-stick pan to fry yours. I have seen people deep fry their flatbreads, but it’s just too much oil for me to even consider! And that’s something coming from a samosa lover like me.
My attempt at muttabaq was not perfect, and I did have a bit of breakage due to the fact that I tried to cut down on the resting time. I’d definitely suggest leaving the dough to rest for as long as possible. Be gentle when handling the muttabaq but aim to move and flip them in one smooth action. If you want to see talent check out youtube for videos of street vendors who make muttabaq or murtabak, it’ s mesmerising!
I think these are a great afternoon snack with a cup of tea and a sauce or dip to accompany them. It takes a little time, but they are really fun to prepare and you can customise it with any filling you like.
- 1 medium sized sweet potato, grated, washed and drained
- 1 onion, sliced
- 1 egg
- 2 tbs oil
- salt to taste
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 green chilli, chopped
- Handful of chopped coriander
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/2 cup oil
- In a bowl, mix flour, water and oil. Use a spoon if water is too hot to touch and mix until the ingredients come together into a soft dough. Cover and set aside for 1 hour.
- After the hour, divide the dough into balls just a bit larger than a plum, you should get about 6 balls of dough. On a well oiled surface, use your hands to flatten and then stretch out the ball of dough until you can see your worktop. Sprinkle a tsp of oil on the pastry and then roll it up in to a thing sauage shape.Then coil the dough in on itself, as you would do with a cinnamon roll. Leave to rest for 1-3 hours.
- Bring a pan to the heat, add oil and allow to heat up. Add sliced onion and 1/4tsp salt to help soften. Leave to turn golden brown for about 5 minutes. Add the sweet potato, stir and allow to cook until the sweet potato is soft and cooked through, which should take up to 10 minutes. When sweet potato is cooked, create a well in the pan and crack the egg into it. Use a spoon to scramble the egg and then mix with the sweet potato. Season to taste and add the optional chilli and coriander.
- Roll out the dough on your oiled surface. Use your hands to stretch out the dough again so that you can see the worktop underneath but try not ot let the dough tear. Place about 2 tbs of filling in the middle of the dough.
- Fold the sides of the dough into the centre of the pastry, to create like an envelope. Start with the top and bottom, and then the two sdies.
- Bring a tawa or frying pan to a medium heat. Carefully transfer the mubtarak to the tawa. You can use a spatula or fish slice to help.
- Cook for 3-5 minutes on one side until golden brown. Carefully flip over and cook on the other side. When both sides are cooked through, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen towel or newspaper and serve immediately.
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