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Batbout, Mini Matlouh | North African Soft Stuffable Flatbread

If you're accustomed to thinking that bread must be baked in the oven, think again. These little North African mini breads are easy-peasy baked on the stovetop! ;)
بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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Batbout, as it's called in Morocco and western Algeria, is a type of ultra-soft North African bread. Also known as Mkhamer or Toghrift in parts of Morocco and the Sahara.You can think of it is like an improved version of the pitta bread; it’s fluffier and richer but it is also very airy and tasty! This bread it features a soft and chewy texture and, if cooked properly, a pita-like pocket (like a Greek pita) that's perfect for making sandwiches of all kinds.

Unlike, Middle Eastern pita bread is baked in the oven, this bread is baked on stove top in a tadjine, skillet or on a griddle.

In Morocco Batbouts comes in different sizes, but the most common ones are the small ones (aka our favourite ones). While in Algeria, Matlouhs may vary depending on the ingredients and the ratios used. In central Algeria, Matlouh tends to be very spongy with a large chewy crumb due to the use of semolina, while the smaller minis of western Algeria use more flour and shorter rising time tend to be more like an improved thicker pita bread.

Moroccans usually use the large batbouts for sopping up soup and tadjine juices, served along side grilled but in Ramadan the smaller batbouts are often baked, sliced open than filled with various delicious fillings like tuna, chicken, kefta, cold cuts or vegetables. And in south Morocco thicker batbouts are dipped into buttery honey much like Maârek/Mmsemen and Beghrir.  Algerians similar use the larger Matlouh for sopping up but fill the smaller ones with cheese or meat before baking.

Batbout or mini Matlouh, what you want to call it is a fun Montessori Life Skills (click here for method on how to present this activity) and Maths project to make with your children, as they love to measure, knead, shape and watch these little breads puff up as they bake.

This recipe for batbout is made using a blend of white bread flour, whole-wheat and semolina (durum flour). Adjust the ratio of flours to your own preference, but avoid using white flour only as the end result will be gummy.

Tomorrow I'll be sharing the filling for these sandwiches.  I chose to make a slight variation of an iconic Tunisian snack called Fricassee (which I'll be sharing in the near future) and my Mediterranean Tuna salad that using less mayo and Greek yogurt (also called Labneh).  It's a quick and healthy filling that is just as tasty and appealing to young children. And I'll be sharing it tomorrow enchAllah! So stay tuned!
**The filling amount was for 8 sandwiches. The rest of bread I froze for later.

Seriously, these two recipes are the perfect combinations of flavours! So this weekend, make some batbouts! These little breads is particularly appreciated during the month of Ramadan, it perfectly accompanies the saucy tadjine, Hmiss pepper salad and all different types of soups from Chourba frik to Harira.

Please note, this is a larger batch recipe. You can divide the dough to make a smaller batch or freeze them for later.

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So let's get started with the recipe.


bread | makes about 35 (more or less depending on the size you make them) 

 If you're accustomed to thinking that bread must be baked in the oven, think again. These little North African mini breads are easy-peasy baked on the stovetop! Perfect for little hands and iftar tables ;)

For the bread:
‣ 1 TBS - 9g dry yeast
‣ 3 cups white bread flour
‣ 1 cup whole wheat flour
‣ 2 cups semolina flour (semouline, semouletta)
‣ 1 TBS honey 
‣ 2 tsp sea salt
‣ 3 TBS olive oil
‣ 2 cups warm water

‣ oil or melted butter, for coating

1. Activate the yeast by combining it with 1/4 cup of the warm water and a teaspoon of the honey Set the mixture aside until it's frothy, about 5 to 10 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flours, semolina, remaining honey and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and the oil. I recommend adding a ½ cup and then adding tablespoons of water progressively to make sure the dough doesn’t get too moist and sticky. If it happens, add a bit of flour. The dough should be a soft, manageable dough. 

3. Knead the dough in a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand on a lightly floured surface, for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. The dough should be quite soft but not sticky. If it's too sticky to work with, add a little flour one tablespoon at a time. If the dough feels a bit stiff, work in additional water, a tablespoon at a time.

4.Divide the dough into smooth balls the size of small plums and let them rest, covered, on a lightly oiled surface for about 10 minutes.

5.Roll out each ball into a thin circle about 3mm -1/8inch thick. Set the disks on a tray then cover with a clean kitchen towel. Leave to rise for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until light and puffy. You can test for readiness by gently pressing your finger into the dough. If the dough springs back then it's ready. If it doesn't, it needs to rise a little longer.

6. Heat a very lightly oiled tadjine, cast-iron skillet, grill pan or griddle over medium heat. Allow the pan to get quite hot. Once hot, lower the heat slightly. I used a grill pan to obtain the nice marks.

7. Gently transfer the bread onto the tadjine or pan. Cook the batbout in batches, turning the bread about 3 minutes, until golden brown on both sides. The browning will be a bit uneven since the bread puffs up as it cooks, but that's okay. If you would like the bread to be browned on the sides too, carefully without squeezing the bread too much place the bread between a pair of cooking tongs then gently brown the bread on a gas fire making not to burn.

Once baked transfer the cooked batbout to a rack or towel-lined basket to cool. It's fine to stack them while they're warm.

    ⇝ This bread will keep fresh for two days at room temperature. They freeze well and can be heated directly from the freezer in a microwave oven on the defrost setting or leave to thaw out on the counter. You can also toast them in the oven or toaster if you want them toasted. Avoid overheating or they will dry out.

    ⇝ If you would like to use sourdough, substitute 90g active sourdough for the yeast and allow the dough to rise for 4 + hours.

    ⇝ You could add in your favourite seeds or herbs into the dough for a variation. Or try mixing in a spoon of Ras el Hanout North African spice mixture in the dough.

    ⇝ I have not tried making these gluten-free but if you're feeling adventurous give it a go using your favourite GF flour blend.


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    For an interesting variation mix a tablespoon of Ras el Hanout North African spice mixture in the dough.

    Serve this bread unstuffed with your favourite soup like this Chourba M'katfa. Stuff it with this Mediterranean Tuna Salad or even stuffed with some (homemade) merguez at your next summer cookout.

    Or (unstuffed) to sop up the juices of this Chicken with Olives.
    Or get inspired Recipe Index.

      Stay tuned for the North African style tuna salad ...

       what would you stuff these little babies with? 

      1 comment:

      1. Hi, I made these today and my son and husband loved them. I filled them with a spicy fish curry. Thank you so much for posting such wonderful recipes. I am also really enjoying your Ramadan posts, although not a follower of Islam myself it is lovely to read how it is celebrated.


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