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Mahajeb / Majouba - Algerian stuffed semolina flat bread

Salam Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

Yesterday i decided for the nth time since I got married, to try and master the 'art' of making this Algerian street food, a paper thin flat bread filled with a rich, spicy tomato and onion sauce.

Mahajeb / Majouba


500 grams fine semolina

1 teaspoon salt

Water (warm)- no precise measurement as it depends on your climate, the humidity etc

Oil (i used sunflower but olive oil would be healthier)


1 x 400 grams tin chopped tomatoes or equivalent in fresh, blended

1 tablespoon Tomato purée (optional)

2 onions, finely chopped

Salt, pepper & spice blend (usually harissa) to taste


Firstly, the dough is no easy task by hand (if you have a stand mixer, use it) and believe me it's worth because these are delicious.
  1. Dough- Place semolina and salt inside a large bowl and mix so the salt is evenly distributed, add enough tepid water until it just forms into a dough, you then have to knead for at least 30 minutes, every minute or so you should sprinkle the dough with water, this helps the final texture which will be slightly sticky yet soft and easy to stretch. Coat the dough in a layer of oil, place in a bowl, cover and leave to rest for at least 30 mins but a few hours is better.
  2. Filling - Fry onions in 2 tablespoons of oil, until translucent. add salt, spices, tomato purée and a splash of water to stop the spices from burning, continue to fry for a minute or 2 before adding the blended tomatoes, reduce heat and cook until you get a rich, reduced sauce. Set aside and leave to cool to room temperature (pop in fridge to speed up this process) before continuing.
  3. Assemble & Cook- Oil your hands and work surface very well, this is a must so the dough doesn't stick to the surface or you and well your cooking the flat breads in a dry hot pan so you need that oil. Divide dough by pulling off handfuls. Put them on a oiled baking sheet and cover. Place frying pan on medium heat whilst you start with 1 dough ball, pat and smooth out gently using the palm of your hand. Place your hand underneath one part and gently stretch until that side is thin and you can see the work surface underneath, continue stretching dough all way around until you get a thin square. Don't worry if you have a few little holes it won't matter once you start to fold it over but try and get a consistently thin surface. Fold the top side  over into the centre of the square and do same with bottom side, then put a  heaped tablespoon of sauce mixture into middle, spread evenly leaving about and inch and half free around the other 2 sides. fold the left side over all of the sauce and then the right side over that. makes sense right? take a look at chahrazed's photo tutorial . With oiled hands delicately lift mahajeb into pan and cook on each side for about 4-5 minutes (8-10 minutes total). 

The sauce quantities are a little over what is required for this recipe but can be used as a base in soups or as a pizza sauce simply store sauce inside a airtight container and place in the fridge for upto 3 days.

I used the leftover sauce today for my calzone.

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