By Cat, Jan 2008; updated May 2014 (Photo, from Moroccan Food.About)
Includes: 1. Types of R’ghayaf; 2. Moroccan Semolina Flatbread – I; 3. Moroccan Semolina Flatbread – II
See also: 1. Pita (Middle Eastern Flatbread); 2. Naan (Traditional Indian Tandoori Flatbread); 3. Breads & Rolls Menu; 4. Flatbreads: Note on Ingredients & Equipment; 5. Wheat (about) (includes white, whole and semolina flour)
I’ve not had much exposure to Moroccan food; in fact, this is the first flatbread recipe I’ve seen with Moroccan roots, so I didn’t know what it’s called in Morocco. Upon exploring the name, I’ve learned that there are many different types of Moroccan flatbread, depending more on how it is shaped, than on the ingredients (see below). Refer to Wheat (about) for more about the different flours mentioned here.
Types of R’ghayaf
The names/types listed below are from Moroccan Food About.com (1) and Wikipedia (2), but I am certain there are others as well. In general, as flatbread, they are all called R’ghaif (R’ghayaf or R’ghayef are alternate spellings). Only the last three are leavened.
Some of these are folded over a thin, savory filling of onion, herbs and spices.
- Msemen – Flattened square-shaped (1)
- Meloui (“rolled”) – Round, flattened coil-shaped (1)
- Oudnine el Kadi (“the judge’s ears”) – flattened or rosette-shaped (1)
- Rziza (R’zatte) el Kadi (“the judge’s turban”) – flattened, coil-shaped (1)
- Harsha, a fried buttery bread made of semolina, as Moroccan flatbread (2).
- Mekhtamrine – flattened, unfolded rounds made from leavened dough (1)
- Metlouh (Matlou’) – thicker rounds made from leavened dough (1)
- Batbout – Metlouh that is left to rise before cooking to yield pita-like bread (1)
Moroccan Semolina Flatbread – I
This recipe (from AP article in DIL, January 2, 2008); not yet tested by me.
From the descriptions above, I believe this recipe most closely matches the description for Mekhtamrine or Batbout. I would love to hear from someone of Moroccan descent who could clarify this for me. This recipe makes one large round, unfolded, leavened disc. See below for a similar version that makes individual round, unfolded, leavened discs resembling pita.
Semolina is a cream-colored, coarse-grained ‘white’ flour made from durham wheat, and it most commonly used for making pasta. It has a higher protein content than regular white flour, but is devoid of fiber. For this reason, I’d like to try the recipe to use part semolina, part whole wheat flour (as indicated under ingredients, in parenthesis).
The original recipe is made into one large ¾” thick disc that is allowed to rise before baking. But the dough can also be divided into smaller individual discs before the rise, like pita (and like the photo, above). Moroccan Semolina Flatbread (5) is a similar recipe that makes individual pita-like discs; the ingredients are in metric; see below for my conversion (see Misc. & Information: Metric/English Conversions for help with conversion).
I’d also like to try an overnight sponge with whey or yogurt, similar to Naan.
Refer to Wheat (about) for sources of the different flours mentioned in these recipes.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1¼ cup warm filtered water, divided, plus more as needed
- 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
- 2 ½ cups semolina flour (or 1 cup semolina and 1 – 1 ½ cup hard white or red whole wheat flour)
- 1 tsp Unrefined sea salt (or Kosher Salt)
- ½ tsp aniseed (removed from star, optional)
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
- unbleached white flour for kneading and shaping
- warmed filtered water
- 1 cup glass measuring cup
- large bowl
- kneading surface (kitchen board)
- clean cotton kitchen towel
- Baking sheet and parchment paper; or baking stone
- Measure ¼ cup warm filtered water into glass measuring cup. Sprinkle yeast over the water and stir just a bit. Let sit to proof the yeast – until it begins to froth.
- In large bowl, combine semolina (or semolina and 1 cup whole wheat flour), salt, and seeds (if using). Make a well in the center.
- When the yeast has proofed, pour it into the well. Gradually add 1 cup of warm filtered water, mixing as you go to moisten the flour. Knead to make a rough ball of dough, adding more whole wheat flour if too moist, or more water if too dry, 1 Tbsp at a time. However, the dough should be soft (I think – both pita and naan are a soft dough).
- Lightly flour a wood kitchen board.
- Transfer dough to the prepared work surface; knead by hand about 3 minutes. Cover with inverted bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Remove bowl & knead dough for another 2 – 3 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Shape into a large ball (or several small balls), cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rest for 15 minutes.
- Flatten dough by hand into a circle about ¾ inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; or to a baking stone. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for about 1 hour, or until the dough has about doubled in volume.
- About 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 400°F.
- Bake 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden all over.
Assembly or Serving Suggestions
- This makes one large disc; cut into wedges for individual servings, and serve with extra virgin olive oil (or oil/balsmic vinegar mixture) for dipping.
Moroccan Semolina Flatbread – II
This is a similar recipe to version I above (not yet tested by me), with the following differences; Version II:
- Is about twice the amount of dough;
- Makes 10 smaller, individual discs resembling pita;
- Are cooked in a dry cast iron skillet or on a griddle, rather than baked.
Because of the resemblance to pita, I believe this is Batbout.
I’ve adapted this from Moroccan Semolina Flatbread by Karen Martini (5) is a similar recipe to the above recipe, but the ingredients are in metric. With the help of several sites, I’ve converted to American/English measures (see Misc. & Information: Metric/English Conversions).
This is a direct copy of the original recipe, with metric to American conversions after the ‘=’ sign.
- fresh yeast, 25g = 3 Tbsp fresh yeast or 1 ½ Tbsp active dry yeast (7)
- warm, filtered water, 650ml = 2 ¾ cups (6)
- plain flour, 500g = 3 ½ cups unbleached white flour (6)
- fine semolina, 400g = about 2 ⅜ cups (8)
- Fine semolina, extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp salt flakes
This is a direct copy of the original recipe, with metric to American conversions in parenthesis. When I test this recipe, I’ll update to my own version.
- Dissolve the yeast in 650ml (2 ¾ cups) of warm water.
- Mix the flour, 400 grams (2 ¼ cups plus 2 Tbsp) of semolina and the salt together in a large shallow bowl.
- Make a well in the flour mix and, using your fingers, gradually incorporate the water until you have a rough, sticky dough. Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, flour your hands lightly and keep kneading until you get the right consistency.
- Once your dough is ready, divide it into 10 even pieces – you can simply pinch off balls with thumb and forefinger, although getting them even does take a little practice. Otherwise weigh the dough, divide by 10 and then weigh off even portions (about 160 grams each).
- One by one, take the rough edges of each ball and fold them into the centre, creating a more consistent shape, then roll the balls on the bench with your palm until smooth.
- Once you have shaped all the balls, starting with the first one you rolled (so they all have a chance to rest), pat out with your fingers into a round, about 15 cm (6″) on a bench dusted with semolina. Lift on to a clean tea towel, and dust with more semolina. Repeat for all the dough. As they prove they will puff up and roughly double in thickness, from 1 cm to 2 cm (⅜” to ¾”).
- Once the dough has rested, carefully lift each piece (they will be quite light and aerated) into a heated dry frypan (or griddle) and cook for about four or five minutes on one side, flip and cook for another three to five minutes – having two pans on the go at once is a good idea. You want some colour on them, but just watch the heat of your pan as you don’t want a burnt outside with a doughy centre. Once cooked, they will sound hollow when tapped. Stack on top of each other to cool before using.
- Moroccan Food About.com on Rghaif or Rghayaf (moroccanfood.about.com/od/glossary/g/Rghaif-Moroccan-Pastry-Dough.htm)
- Wikipedia on Harsha (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flatbread)
- Daily InterLake, January 2, 2008
- Moroccan Semolina Flatbread, by Karen Martini (goodfood.com.au/good-food/cook/recipe/moroccan-semolina-flatbread-20131112-2xdxw.html)
- Whats Cooking America’s Metric/English Liquid & Dry Measures (whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/equiv.htm)
- Traditional Oven’s Yeast Converter (traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/yeast_converter.html)
- Traditional Oven’s Semolina English/Metric conversions (traditionaloven.com/conversions_of_measures/semolina_amounts_conversion.html)