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September 20, 2008 Recipe #9 Fatbread

(Disclaimer: There were three of us contributing to this dish, and I was concentrating on mincing up everything into tiny chunks, so I wasn’t able to estimate amounts. Sorry.)

Fat (tadoont n aksum) – should be opaque white, texture when chopped similar to a crumbly blue cheese

Vegetables – Ama says use ayna tufit, meaning whatever you find (except tomatoes). We used onions (azalim), carrots (xezu), turnips* (luft or tlft), potatoes (batata), peppers (flfla or tiflflt) or even a hard boiled egg (tiglay n waman), which isn’t a vegetable last time I checked, but which can be tossed into the mix.

Spices – use whatever you like. Ama used pepper (lubsa), saffron (safran), cilantro (m3dnus), cumin (camoon), and salt (tisnt).

Butter (zbda)

Flour (ourH)

water (aman)

yeast (khmira)

Mince the fat and vegetables into teeny-tiny pieces, pea-sized or smaller. Then mince the cilantro and any other fresh herbs into shreds the size of a BB pellet. Toss all together.

Make the bread just like in recipe # whatever the bread was, except that after you pat the dough into pie-sized rounds, cover the surface with melted butter.** Cover one with the fat-veggie mixture, leaving ~1” of dough on the edges. It should look a lot like a medium-sized pizza at this point. Put another bread round on top, and then pinch the edges together. (Ama, ever conscious of not wasting any food, rubbed her hands on the upper round, to make sure all the herbs and food particles that had stuck to her fingers when she’d patted them into the bottom round were going to end up in the meal. She rubbed her hands on the underside – the buttered side – of the upper round, so that it all ended up on the inside of this dough sandwich.) Watching Ama pinch the edges of the dough together, it occurred to me that this is the Moroccan version of a pie, but with bread dough instead of pie crust dough. It’s kind of the intersection of a chicken pot pie with a calzone.

Coat the entire exposed surface – top and bottom – with melted butter. It not only adds flavor, but it brings out the color in the final baking, much like an egg wash does on Put it on a nonstick surface, then set a plate over it, with a blanket/towel above that, to let it rise. (Usually bread dough can sit right on the blanket/towel, but all the melted butter on this would be lost, plus it would gett your cloth greasy.)

Let it rise for half an hour to an hour, then bake. It’s done when golden and firm to the touch.

**Variation: My host brothers don’t like vegetables, so Ama makes them a version without any filling. After she coats the bread with butter, she folds it into thirds, then into thirds the other direction, so that she ends up with nine layers of butter. Then she pats it back into the shape of a bread loaf. The finished product ends up tasting a lot like a croissant.

* Turnips, tlft, are to be peeled like a potato before chopping. I realized today that while I’ve always known that turnips are veggies, I’m pretty sure I’ve never handled or eaten one before today, and never knew that they were root vegetables. The giveaway there was the little thready roots coming off, like carrots sometimes have.

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