Mahjouba Recipe: Stuffed Algerian Crepes

These stuffed crepes are one of Algeria’s most popular street snacks. This mahjouba recipe is made with a jammy filling of tomatoes, caramelized onion, grated carrot and aromatic spices.

Mahjouba Recipe | Algerian Crepes

Welcome to Algeria, Africa’s largest nation. With a landmass of over 2 million square kilometres, the country is almost 5 times bigger than Spain! Although Algeria borders along the Mediterranean sea, it is mostly made up of arid desert and a few mountain ranges.

An Overview of Algerian Cuisine

Before beginning this culinary journey around the world, I had very limited knowledge of most African cuisine. I had certainly never tried Algerian cuisine before.

So, I went on a hunt to see if I could find anywhere in Auckland that offered Algerian food. I found a cafe called Little Algiers run by a lovely Algerian man named Djamel. Here, we got to have our first taste of Algerian cuisine!

I was pleasantly surprised to discover than Algerian cuisine has a strong French and Arabic influence. It reminded me a lot of the food I ate when I visited Morocco.  All the dishes were richly flavoured with ras el hanout, which is a famous Algerian spice mixture comprised of over 27 different spices.

Popular Algerian Dishes:

  • Couscous– These little balls of semolina are so popular that they are Algeria’s national dish!
  • BourekBaked filo pastry commonly filled with eggs, mashed potatoes, parsley, onions, olives
  • Moloukhiya– A traditional curry made from a bitter vegetable of the same name
  • DolmasA term referring to stuffed vegetables, often stuffed with more vegetables or mince
  • MahjoubaA popular street snack of semolina-based crepes stuffed with a caramelized onion and tomato filling
  • Lobia– a thick stew often eaten in winter made up of beans, carrots, potatoes 

Mahjouba Recipe | Algerian Crepes

Making Algerian Stuffed Crepe (Mahjouba)

I’m not going to lie- I used to be really intimidated by recipes involving making dough from scratch.  Hence, I avoided them like the plague for many years. However, over the past few months, I decided to broaden my horizons.

I have now become very adventurous with my dough endeavours. From sourdough loaves to Japanese milk bread, bao buns to Turkish gozleme, I’ve now gone through all sorts of dough recipes, some with great success, and some with great failure.

I am happy to announce that these semolina-dough based crepes were a success. So, dough not be intimidated by this recipe, there is no knead. Sorry, bad pun- there is some kneading involved. 

Algerian Crepes

Ingredients to make Mahjouba (Algerian Stuffed Crepes)

  • Semolina flour– This is a high-gluten flour which is quite coarse in texture and is often used in pasta and breads. If you can’t find it at the supermarket, you’ll be able to find it in a speciality store or order it online.
  • Fresh produce– brown onion, carrot, garlic, fresh green chilli (sub for dried chilli if you don’t have fresh) and coriander
  • Pantry staples– ground cumin, a tin of tomatoes and tomato paste

How to make Mahjouba (Algerian Stuffed Crepes)

Making mahjouba does involve making a dough, but it’s a super easy one and only takes 30 minutes to rest. These Algerian stuffed crepes can be broken down into just 3 steps:

Mahjouba Recipe | Algerian Crepes

1. Make the dough: Mix semolina flour and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of water (or more if needed) until soft dough forms. Knead by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook attached for about 7 minutes, until dough feels elastic. Form into six even balls, coat each with some oil and put on a baking sheet. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Algerian Crepes

2. Make the filling: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until turning translucent. Add garlic and cumin and fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Next, add in grated carrots, chilli and tomato paste, and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add tinned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken and water from tomatoes to evaporate. Remove from heat, stir in the coriander and leave to cool.

Mahjouba Recipe | Algerian Crepes

3. Compile mahjouba: Grease a working surface with oil, then take a ball and use your hand to spread into a very thin circle. Carefully stretch out the edges into a large thin square, around 25cm x 25cm. Spread a scoop of cooled filling into the centre. Fold opposite ends to meet in the middle, then fold the other two ends so an envelope is formed. Repeat process with all dough balls. Heat another tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, place as many shaped flatbreads as you can fit into the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Algerian Crepes

Serving suggestions for this Mahjouba recipe

These stuffed crepes are best served hot out of the pan and make for a delicious lunch or snack. Eat them on their own or if you want to spice things up, add some harissa (which is a North African chilli paste).

Mahjouba- Algerian Stuffed Crepes

Mahjouba- Algerian Stuffed Crepes

Yield: 6 crepes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Mahjouba (stuffed crepes) is one of Algeria's most popular street snacks. These thick, flaky flatbread pockets are stuffed with a jammy filling of tomatoes, caramelized onion, grated carrot and aromatic spices.  

Ingredients

Dough

  • 1 1/2 cup semolina flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 2 green chilies, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tin of tomato (400g)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp coriander, chopped

Instructions

  1. Make the dough by mixing semolina flour and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of water (or more if needed) until soft dough forms. Knead by hand or in a stand mixer with a dough hook attached for about 7 minutes, until dough feels elastic. Form into six even balls, coat each with some oil and put on a baking sheet. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  2. While dough rests, make the filling. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chopped onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until turning translucent. Add garlic and cumin and fry for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  3. Next, add in grated carrots, chilli and tomato paste, and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add tinned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken and water from tomatoes to evaporate. Remove from heat, stir in the coriander and leave to cool.
  4. Grease a working surface with oil, then take a ball and use your hand to spread into a very thin circle. Carefully stretch out the edges into a large thin square, around 25cm x 25cm. Spread a scoop of cooled filling into the centre. Fold opposite ends to meet in the middle, then fold the other two ends so an envelope is formed. Repeat process with all dough balls.
  5. Heat another tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Once hot, place as many shaped flatbreads as you can fit into the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

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