Malawach is a deliciously flaky traditional Yemenite bread which consists of a thick crepe of thin layers of dough that are quickly fried.
Yemen means “right” in Arabic: the country is indeed to the right of Mecca, the holy city for faithful Muslims who turn to it when they pray.
Current Yemen was created in 1990 by uniting the Democratic Republic and People of Yemen (South Yemen) and the Yemen Arab Republic (North Yemen).
Yemen celebrates its independence on November 30th. This date commemorates the independence of South Yemen, which on November 30, 1967, created an independent state: South Yemen, which will take the name of People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, three years later.
What is malawach?
Malawach is a popular bread, which looks like a pancake, and can be served with a variety of accompaniments. The preparation technique is similar to the one of puff pastry, except much shorter and much simpler.
Malawach is a fried bread and is a staple for all Yemeni Jews. It looks like a thick pancake. The malawach recipe consists of thin layers of dough, greased and baked in a frying pan.
It is traditionally served with hard-boiled eggs, chopped or crushed flavored tomatoes and finally the famous z’hug, a spicy condiment that is often served with the marak temani soup.
But malawah can also be served in a sweet version, with honey, which is reminiscent of a similar recipe served in Morocco called mlawi or meloui that all the Moroccan Jewish communities around the world call mofleta. However, mofleta, unlike malawach, includes baker’s yeast.
The folding of malawach is particular. I invite you to watch this video to get familiar with it.
At home, we ate malawach for lunch, as an afternoon snack and the next day at breakfast and we found it excellent, whether sweet or savory!
- 5 cups flour
- 1½ cup warm water (more or less depending on the flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup ghee (clarified butter), melted butter or margarine
- Black sesame seeds
- Mix flour, water and salt and knead until obtaining a smooth dough, about 15 minutes.
- Knead for 15 minutes.
Flour / water ratio may need to slightly be adjusted depending on the absorption of the flour, in order to obtain a perfectly smooth and homogeneous dough that does not stick too much.
- Divide dough into 4 and shape 4 smooth balls. Coat each with a little butter and let stand for 45 minutes.
- Roll out each ball of dough into a very thin sheet, either by hand or with a rolling pin (without pressing strongly).
- Once each dough piece is rolled, brush generously both sides with melted butter. Fold the dough as shown in the step-by-step photos below.
- Cover and let stand for 45 minutes.
- Fry malawach in a large skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat for a few minutes on each side.
- Sprinkle with black sesame seeds and enjoy hot or warm.