Msemen, also known as rghaif is a squared flatbread usually eaten in Morocco for breakfast and teatime. You can have them plain or stuffed, sweet or savoury, their texture is very soft and very different to the Middle Eastern flat bread. It’s richer, but also fluffier and super comforting.
Like all the classics of Moroccan cuisine, there’s many ways to prepare msemen. I think traditionally they were individually pan-fried but we can also bake them, which is my favourite method as it’s a big time saver and it’s also a bit healthier.
The filling I am sharing with you today is the filling my mom usually makes for her savoury msemen, it’s supper onion-y and has the perfect meat and veggie ratio, it’s a serious treat!
This recipe is my favourite for msemen but feel free to play around by changing the filling!
Stuffed Msemen (Rghaief) – Stuffed Moroccan Flatbread
Makes 12 15x15cm stuffed msemen
For the dough
- 400 gr plain flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil and more to assemble
- 250 ml water (1 cup)
For the filling
- 4 large onions, finely chopped
- 2 large red bell peppers, finely chopped (<1 cm pieces)
- 2 large green bell peppers, finely chopped in (<1 cm pieces)
- 200 gr minced beef
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Prepare the filling
• In a large casserole, heat the olive oil and add the onions over medium low heat. Cover with a lid and leave the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 10 min. This will allow sweating the onions.
• Add the chopped peppers, the spices, the herbs and the salt to the onions and cover the casserole with a lid. Leave until the peppers are cooked and soft, about 5 – 7 min. Stir occasionally.
• Once the peppers are soft, increase the heat to medium and add the minced meat. Stir to break up the meat until the meat is browned all over and all liquids have evaporated. This shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. At this stage your filling is ready, set aside and keep in the fridge.
Prepare de dough
• In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together to form a dough. If the mixture is too dry and you can’t form a dough, add a couple tablespoons of water bit by bit. Make sure you don’t add too much water, this will make your dough very sticky and you wont be able to knead it, in that case add a bit of flour. When your dough is nicely done, lightly flour a worktop and knead for 10 minutes until light and soft. Once your dough is ready, divide the dough in small balls (for a 15x15 cm msemen make 7 cm diameter balls), place on a tray, lightly drizzle the balls with olive oil and cover with cling film for 20 minutes.
Assemble the msemen
• Preheat oven to 200 C (400 F).
• Lightly oil a surface with olive oil, place a ball of dough on the surface and pour about one teaspoon of olive oil on a dough ball.
• Using your hands, flatten the dough very thinly to make a circle or a square.
• Place a small amount of filling on the flattened dough making sure the filling doesn’t go over the edges (place about 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling for 7 cm diameter dough balls).
• Fold each side of the dough vertically and then horizontally towards the center to make a square, making sure the filling stays enclosed (see picture), and place the msemen on a baking tray. Repeat until you’ve exhausted all the dough and the filling. Leave some room between each msemen when placing them on the tray because you will flatten them later on and they will get bigger.
Bake the msemen
• When ready to bake, use your hands to flatten every square of dough to make them as thin as you can without breaking the dough and keeping the filling enclosed.
• Place in the warm oven for 18 to 20 minutes until lightly golden.
• You can make the filling up to two days in advance. Keep in the fridge.
• I don’t recommend assembling the msemen when the filling is still warm, it will affect the dough and make the assembling process difficult. Once cooked, place it in the fridge and wait for it to reach room temperature.
• A lot of msemen recipes include yeast in the dough, I had them with and without yeast and I don’t see a real the difference but if you want to, add about ¼ teaspoon of yeast to your dough (previously mixed with a bit of warm water).