Here is my Mutabbaq recipe, a flatbread stuffed with filling made with meat and egg. The popular street food in Saudi Arabia served for breakfast.
I will always have a soft spot for Saudi Arabia because this was our first home. Though I have shared the meat and egg stuffed Muttabaq, I have found muttabaq with cheese and spinach, zaatar, etc. A drive around the downtown in any city in Saudi Arabia will have a hole-in-the-wall cafe selling freshly made muttabaq and sambosa.
Mutabbaq is popular street food in Saudi Arabia. It is a flatbread stuffed with different kinds of filling that can be enjoyed for breakfast or evening tea time. They are stuffed flatbread that is folded into a square and pan-fried. I read that it is a popular street food across Arabian countries and Southeast Asian countries. But the origin of this dish is pointing to Yemen and India so I am convinced it is either of them and it must have travelled through traders. The word Mutabbaq closely translates to folded in Arabic.
The dough of the bread is made with plain flour and eggs as the main ingredients. Nowadays, you can buy mutabbaq leaves from the freezer section just like samosa leaves. The stuffing ingredients differ among each region and largely contain eggs, greens and ground meat or poultry. Some regions have a sweet version that is filled with cheese and nuts. I should try that one soon! This is a very versatile dish, you can make the filling with whatever you like to have.
- Flour: I have used a mix of all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour. You may replace and use all plain flour or all wheat flour.
- Leavening agent: baking powder
- Oil: I have used a mix of olive oil and sunflower oil. You may use any neutral cooking oil.
- Meat: I have used minced beef. You may use any ground meat of your choice. If using meat chunks, then precook and shred to use as directed in the recipe.
- Eggs: You need eggs in the dough and the filling. You may skip the egg in the dough and use more water. But don't skip the eggs in the filling.
- Veggies: You will need garlic cloves, onion, tomato, and green onions,
- Ground spices: You will need red chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander and pepper powder
- Grated cheese: Kraft cheese block is an amazing option. You can use any grated cheese of your choice.
How to make?
- Prepare the dough: You can prepare the dough with all plain flour or mix some whole wheat flour as I did. Let the dough rest.
- Cook and prep the meat mixture
- Assemble the Arabic murtabak: The only step that requires some skill - If you got the dough right, then this will be a breeze. Roll or spread or slap the dough until it is transparent. Place some cooled filling in the centre and spread it into a square. Wrap the dough from all sides to make it into a flat square parcel.
- Pan-fry and serve hot: Pan-fry on a greased pan flipping and cooking until crispy with brown spots.
The amount of filling and the way you spread it will make the difference in the thickness of the muttabaq.
Saudi Mutabbaq | Meat Parcels
- ½ cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder optional but recommended
- Salt to taste
- 4 tablespoon oil
- 1 small egg
- water as required approx ½ cup
- Oil to spread over the dough while resting
For the filling
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 medium onion diced finely
- 500 grams ground meat chicken or beef or lamb
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice add more or less as per taste
Add to the cooled filling
- 1 cup chopped scallion spring onions
- shredded cheese optional
- 3 large eggs
- Salt to taste
Prepare the dough
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
- Add the egg and oil and rub them into the flour evenly using your hands.
- Start adding water a little at a time until the dough comes together. Knead the dough until soft and not sticky - at least for 10 minutes.
Divide and rest
- Divide the dough into 3 to 4 or 6 to 8 smooth balls depending on your pan size. You can make larger or smaller muttabaq.
- Grease the bowl you used to knead and keep the balls in it. Liberally brush all the dough balls with oil to prevent them from drying.
- Cover the bowl with a cling wrap or kitchen linen and let this stay untouched for a minimum of 2 hours.
Prepare the filling
- Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan on a medium to high flame.
- Add the minced garlic and saute until it starts browning.
- Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent.
- Add the minced beef and salt and stir till browned. If using pressure-cooked shredded meat, then you can add it at the end.
- Add all the spice powders and give a good mix.
- Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and adjust the salt and spices. If there is excess liquid in the cooked beef, then cook open until dry.
- Add the finely chopped tomato and saute just for a couple of minutes. If using shredded cooked beef or chicken, add now.
- Remove from heat and let it cool.
- Once cooled, you can divide the portion and refrigerate or freeze for later
- Transfer the meat mixture to a bowl and stir in the eggs, shredded cheese, chopped green leaves, and salt.
- Roll or slap down the dough ball until transparent (like you do for Porottas). Place 2 to 3 tablespoonfuls of the meat-egg mixture on the centre of the stretched dough. Spread the filling to a thin layer and in a square shape.
- Then fold the sides of the dough over the meat, one side at a time to form a complete square parcel.
- Heat the thick-bottomed pan with a little oil enough to coat the pan.
- Lift the folded Mutabbak and place it on the pan. This can get tricky if you used the countertop so be careful while lifting. I used the board, so just flipped the board and transferred the parcel onto my palm.
- Place the folded side on the pan and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes flipping sides carefully until browned and cooked.
- Cut them into squares or diagonally and serve immediately with tea or coffee.
Recipe adapted from Sheba Yemeni.