A fun little tutorial on how to make Moroccan fry bread (msemen or rghaif in darija). These are eaten for breakfast or as a special afternoon snack. Cafes often have a woman making them on an outdoor griddle. They are heavy on the oil but so good when eaten hot of the griddle, downed with a glass of tea. Interesting how so many cultures have some sort of fried bread, in New Mexico we eat sopapillas drizzled with honey and Navajo fry bread tacos, while our Pakistani friends have shared spicy Puri with us. I guess fried comfort food is a universal concept then.
Click on the first image to view as a slideshow.
Most Moroccan dough starts out with a mix of white flour and fine semolina (smeeda). Either 50-50 or as I prefer, more semolina, it makes the finished product grainier and less chewy.
It needs kneading. Sorry.
Oil your hands and squeeze the dough to create a dough ball. Keep a mixture of melted butter and oil on hand and apply liberally at all stages of making msemen.
It takes practice to make them look all nice and even like this. Keep them well oiled.
Apply oil/butter liberally to the work surface then flatten out the dough balls.
Sprinkle a little semolina, then start to fold in thirds to create a nice little square packet. The semolina here keeps the layers from sticking together. A msemen with no layers is a failed msemen.
There is lots of folding.
Almost done folding. If you are making plain msemen then you are ready to cook them. We’re also going to show how to make a great veggie stuffing next.
To make veggie stuffing, stir fry onions, grated zucchinni and carrots.
Add Moroccan spices: salt n pepper, cumin, ginger, paprika, cumin. It’s going to smell really good at this point.
This is actually good enough to eat on its own, is my opinion.
Add chopped parsley and cilantro towards the end of cooking time. It’s hard not to eat a little of this as is.
Now you can make stuffed msemen, add 2 tablespoons of the stuffing right in the middle of a flattened dough ball.
And fold in thirds as usual.
The folded stuffed msemen waiting patiently for their turn. When you are about to fry them, pat them down again til the sides are about twice as long.
Ready to cook with lots of oil/butter.
Cooking, about 3-5 minutes on each side.
There you go. They are only worth eating when still hot and crispy. If they get cold, just reheat in the frying pan. The stuffed ones are almost a complete meal. The plain ones are great with honey or cream cheese.
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9 thoughts on “Step-by-step photo recipe: Moroccan fry bread (msemen/rghaif)”
Thanks so much for posting this. I have lived here long enough that I should be making msmen by now and the veggie stuffed ones are the best! Please, What is the initial flour/semolina blend mixed with to holdit together? Water?
Carrie, it may be dangerous to learn how to make msemen, so rich! Yes, I neglected to mention that the flour is mixed only with water and a bit of salt, no yeast.
i am trying to find the recipe for stuffed spleen (rate) that i once had at a stall in the djmaa el fna a few years ago. i think it was stuffed with spiced rice and pine nuts, but to be honest i can’t remember very well, only that it was good. are you familiar with this dish, do you know how to make it?
all the best, tom
You could try Christine Benlafqih’s website moroccanfood.about.com She never fails to have just what I’m looking for. I’ve had what you’re describing, as far as I know it’s stuffed with onions and ground beef and many, many spices. Morocco’s not really a rice and pine nut kind of country.
I’m making this tonight. Thanks for the great description!