In Moroccan Food by Amanda Mouttaki17 Comments

This is one of the best Moroccan foods that exist – and of course it would be because essentially it’s fried dough. They are so good fresh and hot with honey on top. I have recently learned to make these exactly as my mother and sister in laws would do so and have taken to making a batch every other weekend for the freezer.

  • 3½ cups flour (340 g)
  • ½ cup fine semolina (90g)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¼ teaspoon yeast
  • 1½ cups warm water (approx. ⅓ liter)

For folding and cooking the msemen:

  • 1½ cups vegetable oil
  • ½ cup fine semolina
  • ¼ cup very soft unsalted butter

1) Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1½ cups of warm water, and mix to form a dough. Add more water if necessary to make a dough that is soft and easy to knead, but not sticky. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little flour one tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, (or knead the dough in a stand mixer with dough hook for 5 minutes), until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
2) Set a bowl of the melted/soft butter and some oil aside. Cover your hands with oil.
3) Begin by dividing the dough into golf ball size balls. Continue until all the dough is divided.
4) Starting with the first ball you made, add more of the butter mixture to your hands and work surface. Flatten the ball to a very very thin layer.
5) Rub some oil on top, and fold into thirds.
6) Add some more oil and sprinkle some semolina on the strip and fold again into thirds.
7) You should have a small square of dough. Continue through the remaining balls.

8.) Heat up a skillet and add a small amount of oil to the pan. Keep it on a medium heat. Starting with the first “package” that you assembled, oil your hands and begin flattening the dough. It should be thin and remain in a square shape. Do not overwork or the layers meld together.

9) Place into the warm skillet and cook until golden brown. If it does not turn to a golden color, you are not using enough oil.

The trick to this recipe is making sure you are using enough of the oil/butter mixture at all steps. If you are not the dough will rip or will not cook correctly.

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Amanda MouttakiMsemmen


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  3. Kate

    Hi I was wondering if you’ve converted this recipe to a gluten free version? My kids have celiac and really miss eating msemmen. Any help would be amazing!

    1. Author
      Amanda Mouttaki

      Hi Kate. I’m still working on it :(. My Moroccan sister in laws are helping me now so I’m hoping I will have something soon!

      1. Kate

        I hope you find a way! My Moroccan husband likes paratha better than msemmen and my kids used to like it just as much so I’m going to try to use a recipe for it with cup4cup because I’ve success with that flour blend with other breads. I thought about trying msemmen with cup4cup but I don’t know what to use for semolina? Maybe finely ground corn grits?

        1. MarocMama

          The times I’ve experimented I used fine round corn grits instead of semolina. The problem is creating a dough that has enough elastic (which the gluten provides) to roll out into layers. I’ll keep working at it!

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  7. Calista

    Oh! And its the tribeca whole foods market store in nyc. They order them from a small bakery

    1. Calista

      The bakery is called Hot bread Kitchen. They employ immigrant women which may explain the price.

  8. Calista

    Thank you for your help! The dough is still sticky when I do it. I add flour to it and continue kneading but after a while it becomes sticky again. I rub so much butter oil mixture on it but the butter is semi liquid by that time. Does that make a difference? I would be so grateful if you could do a video! Thanks again!

    1. Author

      I’m not sure how I missed this comment! The butter and oil should be liquid — but I will do a video soon – hopefully this week and will be sure to send you an email when it’s live.

  9. Calista

    Help! I’ve tried this recipe twice and my msemmen is never flaky and its always thick. Am I doing somehting wrong? I followed the recipe to the “TT”. Some recipes require 30 min of kneading, others require 10 minutes. I’ve tried both methods and its just not coming out like its supposed to.

    Please help! Whole Foods started carrying them in the bakery and I’ve been resorting to paying $2.79 each for them–so expensive. I would much rather make them myself.


    1. Author

      Calista – I’m so sorry you’re having problems! I will say this is a tricky recipe. It sounds like you’re not using enough butter and oil between the layers. Is your dough still a little sticky after mixing up? It should be elastic enough so that when spreading out with the butter and oil it is almost see through before folding. Another trick to keep the layers separate is to sprinkle a small amount of fine semolina between the layers when folding. You’ve inspired me to do a video of this process – I think it might be easier to see!! (PS where are you that Whole Foods carries them?? Awesome but very expensive!)

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