An utterly delicious rustic Algerian bread enriched with Sunnah food that is said to cure all but death, the Nigella seed. It's one of our favorite breads!
بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
Last night was a crazy night. A night I woke up to rain dropping onto my face and a small pool of water under my bed. How could that be, you ask? It was Algerian's first monsoon rain. And it rained so hard Algeria really needed the weather to change.I have a love-hate relationship with the Monsoon season. Even though the temperature does cool down considerably, it's gets to be extremely humid & sticky (sigh). But it's a promise to the dry lands of vegetation so I shouldn't complain. With these rains, Algeria has it's dual growing season.
The next day it was bit cold, even surprised me. It was prefect time to turn on the oven and bake something. And what is best to bake? Well, to me a nice crusty bread to sop up a thick soup with. Eid al Adha was the next day so I thought I'd revisit an old favorite. Warm up the house and have enough bread to tie us over until after Eid.
This bread is flavored with Nigella seeds and oil. Nigella is also called black cumin, fennel flower, nutmeg flower,black caraway, Roman coriander, blessed seed, حبّة البركة, çörek otu, Habba Sawda, Hebbat Baraka or Sanoudj in Algeria. Nigella seeds are known to be very beneficial for health, full of virtues for the body and the various ills of the human body. And is often referred as "The remedy to everything but death". It is frequently used in cooking, natural medicine in Arabia and in India by Ayurvedic medicine. In Egypt, it is called elsewhere "habat al-baraka" or "blessed seed" symbol of his virtues recognized. It is found in both seed form, powder, and oil but also in soaps, honey, coffee or cosmetics.
Nigella seeds are delicious in bread, it delicately perfumes of peppermint flavor mild aniseedy fragance. Today I'm sharing with you all an Algerian flat bread is very soft, very soft, plush and flexible - almost brioche-like. Very economical to prepare and healthy to serve with your Eid al Adha meals. But a regal treat to accompany a soup this time of year or a hot stew or tadjine!
Just to note, I took these pictures with my camera phone as I had a little mishap with my rechargable batteries. -- They started to leak out battery fluid while in the charger. So I'll have to replace them after Eid. I was almost tempted to not share this recipe with you ... but it's a just right for Eid - so hopefully the pictures do.
Algerian nigella bread
adapted from Oum Safiya
For two loaves
2 cups - 500g semolina, extra fine
1 tablespoon yeast
About 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp ground Nigella seeds
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoon Nigella seed oil
1/2 tsp baking powder
about 1/2 - 3/4 cups of warm water (depending on the absorbation of your semolina)
oil for brushing
Nigella seeds for decoration
(optional) sweet anise seeds for decoration
- Make the sponge by mixing the yeast with the sugar and about half cup of warm water. Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes or until bubbly.
- Add the semolina flour, along with the rest of the ingredients (except the remaining water) Mix well. If needed, add the remaning 1/4 cup of warm water to the dough to maintain a soft dough.
- Keep kneading the dough so it is even softer and elastic - for about 20 minutes by hand. Or optionally use a bread machine or stand mixer with a dough hook.
- Roll dough into a ball, cover and let rise about 1 hour: the dough should double in volume.
- After that time, punch down the dough and reknead a bit.
- Then flatten on a floured surface, with the palms of your hands to give it a form of disk.
- Place in floured dishes, cover and let rise again as previously for an extra one hour.
- Preheat oven to 200 ° C.
- Brush the surface of the disk or bread with a brush dipped in egg wash and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
- Bake in hot oven until the bread is nicely browned and cooked through.
- Once out of the oven, place on a rack so the bread does not form humidity .