Friday, 27 June 2008

Veiled Beauties ;-)

Fateerah or Mahjubah (pl. Fataayer, Mhaajeb)

1kg semolina flour (I've tried both fine and coarse, coarse is less sticky in my opinion)
1tbs salt

Add water to the semolina and salt.

Mix it into a dough.

Start kneading by lifting the opposite side of the dough into the middle and pressing with the base of your palms.

More power is put into the kneading, if you sit on the floor, with the dough in front of you, in a big tray or plate (traditionally they use a big wooden "qas'ah").

And it takes a lot of strength to do these. I normally knead for at least half an hour, slowly adding a hand ful of water at a time.

When the dough is wet, it's easier to work the water into the dough with your knuckles, until it stops playng around.

Knead until the dough feels soft and elastic. Let the dough rest.

For a classical Mahjubah, fry some sliced onion, garlic, then add peeled, seeded and cut tomatoes, (animal fat - but I left that out) and hot chilli. Season with salt and pepper. Cook together and put aside.

Divide your dough into balls the size of golf balls, or a little bit larger. Fill a cup with vegetable oil, and pour some of it on your work top. Take one ball, put it on the oily surface. Press it on the work top, drizzle some oil over it, and press until it has a diameter of approximately 35-40 cm, and is very thin. Use the base of your palms and work from the middle out, press the edges, where needed, with your fingers. It doesn't matter if it tears a little.

Some bake them like this.

We fold them like this.

When we make Mhaajeb, we put the spicy filling on the first fold. I tried eggs too, this time, but it didn't work so well. I'll have to practice it more, or look for a better way of doing it.

First fold goes from the bottom to the middle. The second, from the top and over. It's really tricky to keep the right size and thickness with the fillings inside. It helps to wait with the folding to the last second, just before tossing it into the pan.

When folded twice, you fold in the sides.

If need be, press it back into shape after the folding (it's very elastic). Be careful if it has stuff folded into it. Put it in a pre-heated pan over medium heat. Drizzle some oil on it. When it has changed colour on the top, you know it has cooked through and can flip it over to give both sides a golden-brown surface. I use a teflon pan, which helps me cut the amounts of oil used. Traditionally, an upside-down tagine base over a gas fire is used.

There you have it! Delicious with some honey melted on top, accompanied with some tea or a glass of milk. Mhaajeb can be served as a light lunch.


Anonymous said...

mashaallah oum anas!!! jazakillah khair! Sorry it took me so long to respond...when i checked my comments i was using the other compuiter and that computer, i couldn't see the text for the word verification so I couldn't leave a comment, and then life took over LOL and i only got to respond now alhamdulillah!

this is great, wih photos for each step! the fatayer i was thinking about though is a kind of pastry filled with's shaped like a triangle...what do you call that? the peple who make it here are algerian and maybe the lebanese make it too but maybe they call it by a different name?


Noor said...

mashAllah mashAllah this looks amazing. I make these with meat sometimes.

I just came across your blog and saw you were linked to me. You should have told me so I can link to you, I LOVE your site :)

I can not wait to try some of these recipes. You should email me!


Oum Anas said...

Assalamu aleikum

Nadia, life takes over all the time, around here ;) lol.
The Algerian recipe book pictured in this post has the Spinach Fatayer you're talking about too, it reminds me of those Middle Eastern cheese Fatayer I made a long time ago, that I told you about.
Maybe I'll make them some day and post here inshaa Allah. My in-laws call the plain Fatayer: Ma3aareg. It sure doesn't help when everyone has a different name for the same thing, and the same name for different things!!

Noor, sorry I didn't tell you, I've only just started out with this food blog, and the links are more for my own blog hopping ;)
I haven't got much posted, and some of the first posts aren't even half-done yet. I really don't think there's much to show.
But you're welcome to link to me if you wish, of course.

Welcome back anytime :)

Jennifer said...

Masha'allah! Beautiful pictures! I love this food, make it a few times a week!

://: Heni ://: said...

Esalaam i knw these as maarek , filled as mahdjeb, curious where do they call call it fatayer (lebanese fatayer as i know is yeast dough stuffed triangles) ;.; thanks for the cute hands doing the step by step!

Oum Anas said...

Assalamu aleikum Jennifer & Heni

Fatayer is the classical Arabic term and in some parts of Algeria they are called Fatayer as well (Algiers for example, AFAIK). In the Algerian cookbook pictured, they're called Fatayer too, and that book is from Constantine. It also has the ME/Lebanese fatayer that you mention.

I'm a bit embarrassed I still get visitors... I need to update my blogs!