Stuffed maghlouga pancakes

The five cities of Algeria’s Mzab region all have their own version of these indulgent savoury pancakes. They might be fat or thin, soft or crunchy, round or square…. But the basic elements are always the same: a hearty meat filling made with onions, tomatoes and scrambled eggs, wrapped inside a semolina pancake. In-keeping with the spirit of this dish of many faces, here’s yet another version; HappyHmisa’s veggie maghlouga!

Makes 10

INGREDIENTS

For the stuffing

  • 2 onions
  • 4 tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of olive oil
  • A handful of spinach
  • 6 large eggs
  • A knob of butter
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of hot paprika
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

For the pancakes

  • 500 g very fine semolina
  • 2-3 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Vegetable oil

METHOD

For the stuffing

  1. Finely slice the onions and cook gently over a low heat until translucent.
  2. Peel and finely slice the tomatoes, discarding the seeds. Add to the onions and bring the mixture to a low simmer.
  3. Add the salt and spices and leave to simmer for around half an hour or until the sauce is blended and thickened.
  4. Roughly chop the spinach, stir it into the sauce and remove the pan from the heat.
  5. Allow to cool completely (or the steam will make your pancakes soggy and prone to tearing!)

For the pancakes

  1. Tip your semolina into a pile on your work surface and make a well in the centre.
  2. Sprinkle the salt over the semolina then begin to add the water, a little at a time, to the well in the centre, mixing it together with the semolina.
  3. Keep mixing, kneading and adding water until you get a soft and stretchy dough.
  4. Divide the dough into ten small balls, cover and allow to rest for at least half an hour.

Assembly

  1. Once the dough has rested and the filling cooled, you can begin to assemble your pancakes.
  2. Cover your hands and work surface generously with vegetable oil. You may wish to keep a small bowl of oil handy to keep topping up as you go.
  3. Begin to press the ball flat and into a square, spreading the dough outwards with your fingers. It will try to spring back, but keep pushing and smoothing it outwards until it is so thin it is almost transparent.
  4. Fold the square once towards you to form a rectangle. Then spread the tomato mixture along half of the rectangle and fold the other half of the pancake over the top.
  5. Gently pick up the stuffed pancake and transfer to a hot, oiled frying pan over a medium heat. Fry for a few minutes on each side until well browned. Then remove to a plate and set aside.
  6. Repeat with the remaining balls of dough until all of the filling is used up.
  7. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a low heat and then add the eggs with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until gently scrambled.
  8. Carefully open a pancake and add a spoonful of scrambled egg. Repeat with all of the pancakes, dividing the egg equally between them.
  9. Serve with a fresh salad or soup for a deceptively filling lunch.

The iron in the spinach and protein in the eggs makes this a great dish for committed veggies, but feel free to switch up the fillings with whatever you have in the fridge.