Sunday, August 3, 2008


Yesterday morning I sat with my sister-in-law for practical lessons in how to make M'hadjeb. It's something I have wanted to learn to make for a long time now so it's about time! M'hadjeb is similar in principle to the Pakistani/Indian Paratha in that it is a flat chapatti type of bread with a filling; in the case of M'hadjeb though, the dough is made from semolina rather than regular flour.

It is a very economical recipe at this time of year since semolina is a staple of North Africa and onions, tomatoes and peppers are in season and are cheap. Tomatoes are around 10Dinars/kilo (50halala/kg; 7p/kg)

The filling is made from equal quantities of chopped onions and peeled, seeded, chopped tomatoes. Sauté the onions until soft, add salt and the tomatoes, some chopped green pepper if desired and you can also add chili powder or caraway seed if you like. Cook until reduced and rich in flavour.

For the dough, pour semolina of medium coarseness into a large bowl - for my trial run I just used about 1 kilo of semolina and a teaspoon of salt. Pour on some tepid water and mix briskly with the hands and add enough water to obtain a dough that comes together and is kneadable.

Turn the dough out onto the table and start kneading and keep sprinkling with drops of water and pummeling, stretching and kneading. You probably need to sprinkle with water every minute. Knead really well for at least half an hour. We kneaded for about 20 minutes, covered and refrigerated and then continued in the morning for another 15 minutes.

You should finally have a soft, elastic dough that is quite sticky. You'll find that it is easy to knead but if you leave it for a moment, it sticks to the work surface. To test, break off a small piece and stretch into a rectangle, it should stretch easily and become quite sheer.

Form the dough into even sized balls, about the size of a tennis ball.

Oil the table and your hands and then take one piece of dough and with the hands smooth out and flatten the dough into a large square/rectangle. Holes don't matter too much but try to make it as even as possible and avoid very thick areas. Stretch any thick edges.
Bring the top edge down and fold to the middle of the square and then add a tablespoon of the filling and spread out to cover what will be the middle section.
Next, fold up the bottom edge, then the left side over as far as the final edge of the filling and then the right side. Pat down gently and make sure none of the filling is oozing out. Sprinkle with oil.
Carefully lift up the M'hadjeb and place on the hot plate which should be set over a medium to high heat.

Turn over with a palette knife and cook evenly on both sides.

They can also be made with no filling, and then sprinkled with sugar and eaten with coffee; these are Ma'aarek.
I'm hoping that these instructions will be an adequate reminder for me when I get back home in order to replicate what I made yesterday!


Anonymous said...

as salamu alaykum sister, I miss Algeria too!And my sisters in law!...sigh!
I've always wanted to learn how to make M'hadjeb,they are simply "delicious" aren't they?! So now I wait for a picture of the ones made by u insh'Allah!

PS:I really like your blog mash'Allah! R u going back to KSA soon?

Take Care ukhti!

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum sis,

Actually those in the photos were made by me but with my sil instructing me along the way! We had a bowl of dough of each and I copied everything she did! I hope I can manage solo insha'Allah as it will be nice to make some for Ramadan.

Will be back in Saudi by the end of August insha'Allah. :)

Anonymous said...

mash'Allah tabarakAllah!Proud of u ukhti! ;)

Is it going to be your first Ramadhan in KSA?

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

It'll be our 4th I think.

seekingtaqwa said...

masha'allah the mahajab look delicious....I note the trick of turning over one edge and putting the filling on a double layer..I can NEVER keep my mahajab sauce inside!!! it always tears and seeps through...lesson duly learned masha' ready to try again.....

Rainbow In The Grey Sky said...

Yummy yummy and thuma yummy, one of my fav's dishes with lots of harisa. I miss Sil and algeria too now. i find the task to labourous to make alone but with help as they have in algeria well that would be nice! I was at a bazzar recently and they were selling manh'jab's for 80p per manha'jab!

Anonymous said...

Asalamu alaikum
I miss dz and sil too!!! Mashallah loving the posts and pics from Algeria. Looking forwad to more inshallah.Take care,Ines.

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikum, great pics and instructions. Guna have a try at making them soon inshallah. Will let you know if its a disaster or not! xxx Ummzayd xxx

UmmAbdurRahman said...

mmmmmmmmm looks delicious. I have absolutely no interest in making mhadjeb. I will gladly eat any that someone else makes though :)

my husband, alhamdulillah, could care less about traditional algerian foods. good for me! He only asks for specific foods during ramadhan. His simple list consists of: shorba fereek, bourek, and mchawek and tcharak for eid.

My SIL made mhadjeb on my last night in algiers. The ongoing joke in the family is that one of BIL's can eat 14 mhadjeb. It's not really that many but he can put em away mashaAllah.

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Glad to be of help SeekingTaqwa!

Rainbow: Mmmm will have to try adding a little harissa to the filling.

Ines: Oh yes... plenty more posts to come! LOL

UmmZayd: Good luck!

UmmAbdurRahman: It's more for my benefit that I needed to learn!