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Medfouna Rissani (Medfouna Tafilalt) - Traditional Stuffed Berber Flat Bread

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Medfouna Rissani (Medfouna Tafilalt) - Traditional Stuffed Berber Flat Bread

Madfouna Tafilalt (Madfouna Rissani)

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

This savory stuffed bread or "Berber pizza" takes its name from the town of Rissani in the Tafilalt region of Morocco, where it's a traditional offering enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. As Rissani sits on the edge of the Sahara, it's not uncommon to find this bread baked in a sand pit. At home, of course, you'll use a conventional oven.

The word medfouna means "buried," and here it refers to the delectable stuffing of meat, suet, herbs and spices which is hidden within the bread's crust. Hard boiled egg and fried almonds are traditional but optional additions.

The recipe calls for either beef or lamb fillet, as a high quality meat is preferable. You can, however, replace half ore more of the fillet with regular ground beef or lamb. I like the medfouna prepared with mild seasoning so the flavor of the meat is not overpowered, but you can make it zestier by adding the optional spices.

Note that the meat is used in raw form in the filling; don't worry, it will cook while the bread bakes in the oven. It's best to use fresh meat rather than frozen, to avoid the possibility of "watery" meat which will result in soggy bread.

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Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Rising time: 1 hour

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ----- For the Dough -----
  • 2 cups (250 g) wheat flour
  • 2 cups (250) white flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water, approx.
  • ----- For the Filling -----
  • 1 1/2 lbs. (700 g) chopped beef or lamb fillet
  • 2 oz. (50 g) beef or lamb suet, finely chopped
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 handfuls fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ----- Other -----
  • 1 or 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced (optional)
  • 1 handful of fried almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)
  • oil, for greasing dough and pan
  • flour, for rolling out dough
  • 1 beaten egg yolk, for egg wash
  • sesame, anise or cumin seeds (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Make the Dough: In a large bowl, combine the flours with the sugar and salt. Make a well in the center and add the yeast and oil. Pour some warm water into the well to moisten the yeast. Add as much warm water as is necessary to make a soft, but not sticky, dough. Knead the dough by hand (or in a mixer with a dough hook) until smooth and supple. Divide the dough into two portions and place on an oiled tray. Rub some oil on the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Leave to rise an hour or longer, until almost doubled in bulk.

Make the Filling: While the dough is rising, combine the filling ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Make the Medfouna: Preheat your oven to 425° F (220° C). Oil a baking sheet.

Flour your work surface and roll out a portion of dough into a circle about 1/8" thick. Transfer the round of dough to the prepared baking sheet. Place all of the filling on top the dough and gently spread it evenly to the edges. Top with the hard boiled egg slices and the fried almonds.

Roll out the second portion of a dough into another circle the same size as the first. Place it on top of the filling, press the top to eliminate gaps or air bubbles, and pinch the edges together to seal. (Dabbing a little water between the edges will help the dough stick together to ensure a tight seal.) Fold the crimped edge under for a smooth look, and smooth the surface of the medfouna.

Brush the beaten egg yolk over the top and sides of the medfouna, then garnish with a light dusting of seeds. Make steam vents by poking the top of the dough in several places with a fork or the tip of a knife. Place in the preheated oven and bake until deep golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly, cut into wedges, and serve.

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