Jordanian Matabaqa.. layered onion bread

Jordanian Matabqa a wonderful layered bread, filled with  caramelized onions

A new month and another beautiful traditional Arabic recipe for the group Arabic flavor. Our wonderfully talented host Areej chose to take us to the north of Jordan, specifically to the city of Irbid to teach us how to make Matabka.

Matabka or matabqa is a traditional onion filled layered bread, popular in the North of Jordan. What sets this beautiful layered bread apart is the fact that it uses olive oil instead of butter to achieve the flaky layers. That gives it a uniqe earthy nuttiness that is simply irresistible

Biting into this bread is a real treat! The outer layers are crisp and crunchy while the inner layers are soft and chewy. The sauteed onions add a wonderful hint of sweetness that perfectly complements the delicate bread.

Jordanian Matabqa a wonderful layered bread, filled with  caramelized onions


3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)

1/2 teaspoon anise seeds (optional)

About 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (you may need a little more or less)


4 cups chopped onions

1 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon all spice

1 teaspoon turmeric


In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading attachment (or a regular bowl if you are doing this by hand) , add the flour and salt

Slowly add the water and knead, until you get a smooth and sticky dough. This type of dough is called ajeen awees  which means extra wet dough. You need the dough to be this wet to be able to stretch it later


Knead the dough for 10 minutes in your stand mixer or 15 if you are doing this by hand

Divide the dough into 4 parts, drizzle generously with olive oil, allow to rest for an hour

dough balls

In the mean time, prepare the filling

Heat the olive oil in a pot, add the chopped onions with the salt, pepper and  turmeric.

Cook over medium heat until the onions are translucent

onion filling

Drain the onions, reserve the oil

On a clean surface, preferably marble drizzle some of the reserved olive oil and start spreading the dough with your hands gently and slowly until it is really thin

paper thin

I tried to shoot a simple video to show you the stretching technique

The result is a very thin circle of dough

strech doughSpread a little of the filling all over the dough


Here is a video showing the filling and folding procedure

First fold 1/3 of the dough over the middle 1/3, spread with some filling

Fold the other 1/3 over the center and spread with some filling

Again fold 1/3 of the dough over the middle third, then fold over the other third.

The result is a square of layered dough

Put this square on the side and spread another dough ball into a thin circle

Spread with some filling

Place the square of layered dough in the center of the circle

step 1

Repeat the folding technique

step 2

step 3

step 4

step 5

Up until now we have used 2 dough balls, you can stop here or you can keep on layering up to 7 layers

I personally prefer stopping at 2, that way I can reduce the cooking time

Place the finished layered loaf into a pan and allow it to rest for 30 minutes

step 6

Gently spread the loaf to make it thinner and larger

step 7

Bake in a preheated oven (380 F or 190 C) on the central rack

For a 2 layer loaf : bake for 20-25 minutes

For a 5 layer load: bake for 40 minutes

Serve with some homemade yogurt and  a green salad

Jordanian Matabqa a wonderful layered bread, filled with  caramelized onions

المطابقه الاردنيه

٣ كوب طحين
نصف ملعقه صغيره ملح
(و اختياري اضافه نص ملعقه حبة بركه ونص ملعقه شومر ونص ملعقه يانسون حبوب)
كوب و نص ماء للعجين

اربع اكواب بصل مفروم
كاس زيت زيتون
نصف ملعقه صغيره ملح
نصف ملعقه صغيره بهار حلو

ملعقه صغيره  كركم او عصفر او بالاردني بسموه ورص


بنعجن العجين العويص حتى يتشكل عنا عجينه طريه بفضل تنعجن حوالي ربع ساعه مع الدعك الجيد وتقرص لأقراص

وتغمر بزيت الزيتون ونتركها ترتاح عالاقل ساعه

الحشو :نفرم البصل فرم ناعم نضع بالقلايه زيت الزيتون وبس يحمى نضع البصلات مع الملح والفلفل حسب الرغبه والعصفر او الكركم ونبداء بتقليبه حتى يذبل البصل ويستوي

نضع على رخامة المطبخ كمية من الزيت الزيتون ونبداء برق العجين حتى تصبح رقيقه وشفافه

ونفرد عليها ملعقه كبيره من الخليط ونطبقها كما في الصوره ونضعها على جنب

نفرد قرص اخر بنفس الطريقه نضع بصل ونفرده ونضع العجينه المطبقه الاولى بنصف هذه المفروده ونطبق العجينه المفروده عليها بنفس الطريقه

نكمل بهذه الطريقه حتى نكمل العجين نترك القرص الكبير يرتاح نصف ساعه ثم نضعه بصينيه دائريه ونفرده جيدا وبحذر حتى يتشكل عنا رغيف كبير مكون من كل الطبقات

طبعا الفرن حامي من قبل حراره ٣٨٠ ف نضع الصينيه بالفرن تخبز حوالي ٣٥ دقيقه ل ٤٠ دقيقه المده تعتمد على عدد الطبقات انا عملت ٥ اخدت ٤٠ دقيقه وعملت وحده طبقتين اخدت ٢٠ دقيقه طبعا انت حره بكمية الطبقات معك من طبقتيت ل ٧ لكن اذا زودت كمية الطبقات يجب ان تغطيها بالفويل قبل الخيز وتضعيها بصينية ذات حواف وتتركيها بالفرن عنار وسط مده اطول حتى تستوي الطبقات
تقدم ساخنه مع السلطه او خيار ولبن او شنينه

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Coconut quinoa pudding

Quinoa coconut pudding

For the month of Nov my Secret recipe club  assignment was Le Andra’s blog  love and flour.

LeAndra describes herself as “currently a Charlottean, I write in the corporate world by day and bake/blog by night”.When asked why she loves baking, her reply is :”  because people will do anything if you bribe them with cookies.” :) Love her sense of humor

I have to admit that I  had to laugh at a segment in her about page “I am grateful to my mother for preparing homemade meals nearly every day and  for handing down to me the maddening-to-others habit of leaving each and every cabinet door open when I am working in the kitchen.”

I do that sometimes, especially when my mind is pre-occupied with something and it drives my husband completely mad :) I was glad to know that I am not the only one.

coconut quinoa pudding

As I went through Love and flour’s archives, I bookmarked a number of recipes but I was particularly drawn to her quinoa recipe collection. It was a toss up between Quinoa Patties with Corn, Feta and Zucchini and her  coconut quinoa. But since I love both coconut and quinoa yet I never thought of putting the two together !I  decided to go with the coconut.

My only modification was to make the coconut quinoa sweet by adding a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla.  The result was ambrosial! The  creamy richness of the coconut on a canvas of nutty quinoa with a hint of sweetness and a hint of vanilla!

Coconut quinoa pudding title

  • 2 cup coconut milk
  • Pinch of  salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons dried coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Rinse the quinoa well
  2. Combine the coconut milk, salt, sugar, dried coconut and vanilla in a medium saucepan.
  3. Add the quinoa and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil, stirring occasionally
  4. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes more (Check on it after 10 and 15 minutes to see if the quinoa absorbed the liquid)
  5. When the quinoa absorbs all the liquid, remove from heat and keep covered to steam for 5 minutes.
  6. Fluff with a fork and serve with a drizzle of honey

coconut quinoa


For more on how to cook quinoa perfectly, you can check out my quinoa salad with corn and black beans

My quinoa is bitter, how can I make it less bitter? Nearly, if not all, of the natural bitterness of quinoa’s outer coating can be removed by a vigorous rinsing in a mesh strainer. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer(you want something with small holes or else the quinoa will go through it), and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Rub and swish the quinoa with your hand while rinsing, and rinse for at least 2 minutes under the running water.

Romanieh (lentils and eggplants cooked in pomegranate sauce)

romanieh (Eggplant and lentils cooked in pomegranate sauce)
In January, I went back home to Jenin for a visit and the trip was bitter sweet. Just crossing the border makes my soul sing. I know this may sound crazy to some but to me, the earth there is different, the sky is different, the very air you breath is different.Simply put, I feel at home!
No matter where I am, my heart is always there..My grandmother used to say that we are just like the olive trees..our roots dig deep into this land..this is where we belong
hundreds of years old olive tree

500 year old olive tree

Yet, it is never easy to see your land, crippled by an occupation,  to see cities look old and tired,as if forgotten by time, to see people suffer with beat up economy, to wish you could pray in Jerusalem but never be granted the permission to do so.To face an ugly horrible wall that makes you feel you are walking in one big giant prison
Israeli wall in the west bank

Israeli wall in the west bank

Israeli wall
To take pictures of your grand parents’ home through a hole in the wall. The house is sad and empty. The trees carry fruits that no one can pick. The kids who once grew here are now old men and women scattered in a dozen countries, they don’t have the permission to live in their own home!
Old home
Palestinian home
One of the reasons why I started and then maintained this blog was to help spread easy and authentic Middle Eastern and particularly Palestinian recipes. At a time when everything Palestinian seems to be under attack. Our land, our food, our traditional cloths were stolen and now they are being marketed as Israeli. It makes my blood boil and  I feel like the least I can do is document our food identity,one post at a time, one recipe at a time.
I am here to tell as many people as I can that it is called Palestinian Maftoul not Israeli couscous, it is an Arabic salad not an Israeli salad, and the gazan dagga is a celebration of the amazing gazan people who can take the heat and rise from the ashes time after time.
Today,since I am sharing another traditional Palestinian recipe, I thought I would give you a glimpse of my trip back home. I’ll start with my visit to Nablus.
nablus city Nablus palestine
 Nablus was founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian in 72 CE as Flavia Neapolis. The city takes pride in its almost 2,000-year-long history and there is no better way to enjoy it than to take a walk down the old market.
Old market
 Whether you are shopping for souvenirs
Palestine- nablus
Or looking to enjoy some of the local food the market has to offer :pickled olives,  Nabulsi cheese , dried fruits or Nabulsi soap (sabon nabulsi) which  is a type of castile soap produced only in Nablus out of  virgin olive oil
Nablus market
 Araies (Pita bread stuffed with minced meat, herbs and spices then grilled to perfection)
 Pita bread
Korshaleh (Tea time crackers, usually dunked in tea)
tea crackers
 If you are shopping for traditional sweets, Nablus is the place to  go to!
sweets 2
Nablus sweets
 I loved watching this guy make koolaj, which are paper thin sheets of dough, something very similar to phylo. Koolaj is usually stuffed with nuts or cheese, it is then baked, then drizzled with a rosewater scented syrup. The outer layers of dough become crisp and crunchy while the inner layers absorb the syrup and take on the spices usually mixed with the filling. The result is simply irresistible!
kolaj and kataief
 Atayef cart! I have never seen atayef being sold on a cart!I usually I buy it from a bakery or  make it home
atayef cart
We ended the trip with praying in  Al hanbali mosque, this mosque has been in the old city since the 16th century, it is famous for the beautiful wood work and marble columns
hanbali mosque Al hanbali mosque Al hanbali
 Now back to the recipe :)
Palestinian Romania
Romanya is recipe mostly associated with the city of Jaffa.The recipe and the ingredients are pretty simple but the result is far from it. When you try this for the first time, you’ll  get  complex layers of flavor and texture that will have you reaching for spoonful after spoonful trying to decide what it is that you like so much about romanieh. Is it the creamy eggplant? the sweet and sour notes of the pomegranate molasses? the earthy nuttiness of the lentils?or is it simply the irresistable combination?


Recipe source: My friend Nisreen Rahhal

1 cup green lentils

7-9 cups of water

2 medium eggplants (peeled and cut into cubes  ‘see notes’)

1 cup sour pomegranate juice (or 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses+ juice of 2 lemons)

1 teaspoon cumin

Salt to taste

6 cloves of garlic minced

1 teaspoon sumac

1 and 1/2 tablespoons flour

4-6 tablespoons olive oil


Add 7 cups of water, cumin and  and the lentils to a pot

Bring the water to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer.

Cook until the lentils are almost done (the time will vary depending on the type of lentils you use)

If the lentils absorb most of the water add 1-2 cups of warm water

Add the eggplant and half of the minced garlic and cook until the cubes are soft and cooked through

Add the salt and sumac

In a small bowl, mix the flour, pomegranate molasses and lemon juice until homogenous

Add the lemon flour pomegranate mix to the eggplants and lentils and stir until the mix thickens

In a pan, saute the remaining minced garlic in the olive oil until the garlic turns golden

Pour the olive oil and garlic into the lentil and eggplant pot and stir

Take the pot off the heat and ladle into the serving plate while hot

Decorate with parsley and pomegranate seeds, you can eat romania with pita bread or using a spoon


You can keep the eggplant peel if you like, it will give a more intense eggplant taste and a deeper color to the end result. I usually peel one egg plant and leave the skin on the other

romanieh (Eggplant and lentils cooked in pomegranate sauce)

(وصفه الرمانيه (حبة رمان

كوب عدس بني،
حبتين باذنجان متوسطه الحجم مقشره و مقطعه مكعبات متوسطه الحجم،
عصير رمانه حامضه و في حال عدم توفر الرمان الحامض نستبدلها بملعقتين طعام من دبس الرمان مضاف لهم عصير ليمونتين،
ملعقه صغيره كمون،
ملح حسب الرغبه،
 سته اسنان توم مدقوق،
ملعقه كبيره سماق ،
شطه او فلفل حار حسب الرغبه و حسب الذوق ممكن الاستغناء عنها،
ملعقه كبيره و نصف طحين.
يغسل العدس و يسلق بكميه مناسبه من الماء،مع اضافه الكمون ،
عند اقتراب نضوجه يضاف مكعبات الباذنجان و نصف كميه الثوم المدقوق و يترك ليغلي قليلا حتى استواء الباذنجان،
نضيف الملح و الشطه و السماق يحرك المزيج
 يذاب الطحين جيدا في دبس الرمان المخلوط مع عصير الليمون، ثم يضاف الى العدس مع التحريك حتى يسمك القوام
في مقلاه مع قليل من زيت الزيتون نقلي كميه التوم المتبقية حتى يحمر و نضيفه فوق خليط العدس و نحرك قليلا ثم نطفي النار .
و يسكب في صحون وتؤكل الرمانية بارده مع الخبز او بالملعقه:)

Egyptian fava beans and herbs dip (Egyptian Bessara) #Arabic_flavor

Bessara- fava bean dip

It is the 25th of the month which means it is time for our #Arabic_flavor reveal.

For the month of August, our host Rehab Elbarody took us on a trip to Egypt. She chose to share her family’s recipe for Bessara, a fava bean dip rooted in Egyptian history.  According to Rehab, bessara dates back to the pharaonic era! (which makes it a recipe that is thousands of years old !).The word Beesara is derived from Hieroglyphic Bees-oro  (bees- which means cooked) and (oro which means beans).

Bessara  is made with simple, cheap ingredients: fava beans, onions, garlic and lots of fresh herbs which give bessara its unique green color. The fact that these simple ingredients can give you a meal that packs a real nutritional punch made bessara popular.

This was actually my first time trying bessara and I have to say that it was a pleasant surprise!  Refreshingly green, creamy, with layers of flavor from the  spices and herbs, beautifully rounded by the caramelized onions. If you love hummus, do give bessara a try, it is plays along the same notes but with a more complex and layered flavor profile.

Fava beans and herbs dip

Egyptian Bessara

500 grams split fava beans (soaked in water overnight)

1 large onion, chopped

5 cloves of garlic

1 bunch fresh parsley chopped (1 cup)

1 bunch fresh cilantro chopped (1 cup)

1 teaspoon black pepper

salt to taste

For the onion topping

1 medium onion cut into strips

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon ground caraway

1 teaspoon dried coriander

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 tablespoons ghee or olive oil

Egyptian bessara

  1. Soak the fava beans in clean water for 8 hours or over night , rinse and discard the water
  2. Place the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a simmer, when froth appears on the surface, drain the beans and add new water to cover the beans, bring back to a simmer
  4. After simmering for 25 minutes, add the herbs and onion and garlic and let the beans simmer some more until they are completely soft .
  5.  Drain, reserving some of the water
  6. Transfer the beans to the bowl of a food processor and purée;add a little of the water you reserved if you need it to help the mix puree
  7. Place the puree beans back in the pot and add the salt and pepper and cook on medium low heat until the consistency thickens (it should be thick enough to allow you to scoop it with bread)
  8. Using a piston and mortar, grind the garlic with the caraway, black pepper and coriander
  9. Heat the oil or ghee in a skillet and fry the onion rings until golden (over medium-low heat).
  10. Add the garlic and spices and fry for a couple of minutes
  11. Remove and drain over paper towels, reserve the oil
  12. Add the oil to the thickened beans
  13. Transfer to a serving platter; garnish the surface with the fried onions and serve at room temperature with bread, green onions, pickles or olives

Broad bean dip

المقادير :
1/2 كيلو فول مدشوش
بصلة كبيرة
5 فصوص ثوم
باقة كبيرة بقدونس
باقة كبيرة كزبرة
ملح وفلفل وشطة
بصلة صغيرة مفرومة ناعم
2 فص ثوم
ملعقة صغيرة كراوية (سر الطبخة من عائلة البارودى )
نصف ملعقة فلفل اسود
ملعقة صغيرة كسبرة جافة
3 ملعقة كبيرة سمن بلدى
الطريقة :
ننقع الفول المدشوش 8 ساعات فى ماء نظيف ثم نشطفه جيدا .
نغطى الفول بماء نظيف ثم نرفعه على النار حتى يغلى وتظهر الرغوة على السطح فنصفى الماء ونعيد الفول مرة اخرى على النار بعد تغطيته بماء نظيف مرة اخرى .
نلقى فى ماء السلق مع الفول,البصلة والبقدونس والكزبرة المقطع ونتركهم حتى تمام النضج .
يصفى الخليط مع مراعاه ترك كمية بسيطة من الماء به .
يهرس فى الفود بروسيسور ثم يعاد مرة اخرى للنار مع تتبيله بالملح والفلفل والشطة ومع مراعاة تهدئة النار حتى تتكاثف الطبخة .
للتقلية :

ندق الثوم مع توابل التقلية جيدا حتى تتصاعد الرائحة العطرية للتوابل

نسيح السمن ونضيف له البصلة حتى يصفر لونها ويشف .
نضيف الثوم والتوابل للبصلة حتى تتحمر .
نصفى السمن ونضيفه للبصارة ونحتفظ بالتقلية لتجميل الوجه

Gazan dagga “hot tomato dill salsa” #Arabicflavor

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

I have been trying to write a post for 2 weeks with no luck. What is happening in Gaza makes it very hard to write about food or anything else for that matter.

If you have not been keeping up with the news, let me fill you in. In the past 21 days, over 1000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) have been killed. Over 200 of the 1000 were children. Almost 6000 Palestinians have been injured. Nearly 166,000 Palestinians have sought shelter at United Nations facilities because their homes were either destroyed or unsafe to live in because of the Israeli attack.

The images, footage and stories coming out of Gaza are enough to give you nightmares for the rest of your life but can  you imagine what it must be like to live through it all? I have dear friends in Gaza,and I have been worried sick about them especially after losing contact with most of them after short messages saying that their houses were bombed, they are still alive but barely.

I can hardly bear to watch the news, yet I can’t stop myself from watching. Every broadcast leaves me with a cascade of emotions. I am Sad, broken, angry, furious but above all, I feel helpless. I want to do something but what?

Nisreen Al shawwa, and Mona Al Saboni, two wonderfully talented Arabic bloggers had the answer. They called upon all the Arabic food bloggers to come together and form a group. The aim of the group is to provide a true image of the Arabic world using food and recipes as a canvas.  With every recipe “Arabic flavor” (the name we chose for the group) will share a recipe from a country and every blogger will tell you a little more about that country.

Our first feature and the reason the group came together is Gaza and Nisreen suggested the Gazan Dagga. But before I get to the recipe..

Let me tell you a little about Gaza

The Gaza strip or simply Gaza is a Palestinian region on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea.Gaza is a small area measuring  41 kilometers long, and from 6 to 12 kilometers wide, with a total area of 365 square kilometers (141 sq mi).  Around 1.82 million Palestinians live in Gaza making it among the most densely populated parts of the world. 1.1 million of the 1.8 million in Gaza are Palestinian refugees. They were kicked out of their homes when Israel occupied Palestine in 1948.

Gaza cuisine

As home to the largest concentration of refugees within historic Palestine,Gaza has a unique cuisine that is the result of the merging of the culinary traditions of the original Gaza residents with those brought by the refugees from hundreds of towns and villages that now exist only in memory—depopulated and destroyed in the year 1948.  Add to the mix the Egyptian influence that resulted from the Egyptian rule between 1959 and 1967 and the result is an extraordinary cuisine that is Mediterranean, Levantine, Egyptian but above all uniquely Gazan

Gazan dakka ingredients

Hot Chili and dill is one of the unique combinations in the Gazan cuisine . It is served along side grilled meat, chicken or fish for a blast of heat and flavor.  Chili and dill are also combined with tomatoes and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil to form the signature Gazan salad (Gazan dagga). Fresh green chili peppers crushed in a mortar with dill seeds or fresh dill along with lemon and salt are also served along side stews and soups for a blast of bright flavor on cold and dark winter days.Ground red chili peppers  with dill seeds are preserved in oil and sold as a condiment and ingredient, resembling North Africa’s popular harissa. In short, Gazans take pride in making you sweat :) then again, if you live in a place that is bombed by Israel every two years, you’d better learn to tolerate the heat.

Gazan dakka (dill and pepper tomato salsa)

Gazan dagga

Gazan salad or salata ghazaweh (السلطه الغزاويه او الدقه الغزاويه)


1/2 teaspoon salt

1 small onion chopped

2 hot chili peppers, roughly chopped

1 cup fresh dill, minced or 1 teaspoon of dill seeds

2 very ripe tomatoes, chopped

1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil


In a Gazan clay bowl or zibdiya (or a morter or curved bottomed bowl) mash the onion and salt into a paste using a pestle.

Add chilies and continue to crush.

Add half of the dill (if using fresh dill) or all of the dill seeds if using seeds and crush them to release the natural oils

Add tomatoes and mash (you can make the salsa as smooth or as chunky as you like.

If using fresh dill add the other half along with the lemon juice and toss .

Top generously with olive oil.

Serve with flat bread on the side for dipping

Notes and variations:

  • You can substitute minced garlic for the onions.
  • For a tahini salsa variable, dd chopped cucumbers and 1 tablespoon of tahini. (This variation is from the old village of Beit Jirja, north of the Gaza Strip.)
  • A small food processor may be used in place of a mortar and pestle. Make sure to “pulse” the ingredients—don’t purée them But if you want to experience the full flavor of this salsa, do take the time and effort to make it in a mortar and pestle.
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