Serving Tea and Bread the Maghrebi Way
BY: Nisreen Eadeh/Staff Writer
The North African Arab countries of Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia, often referred to as “Al Maghreb,” contribute to the diversifying Arab American identity. Just as the Lebanese and Syrian immigrants of the 1880s did before them, North African migrants are bringing their traditions to America and popularizing the foods.
In the Maghrebi region, the Arab customs of serving coffee or tea and food to guests is a unique experience. In Morocco, for instance, it is often mint tea that is served, rather than black tea, along with pancake-like bread that has a spongy texture. This bread, baghrir, is eaten in Maghreb countries for breakfast, as a snack, or an appetizer.
At North African restaurants in America, foodies can find baghrir and give it a taste. The bread is most often served with sweet and savory dipping sauces, such as fruit jams, simple syrup, honey butter, and even melted chocolate. When cooked correctly, baghrir is covered in small holes that make it absorbent for the dips.
Baghrir is also commonly accompanied with vegetables and meat in a dish called msemen. Baghrir can be made into a pocket and stuffed with combinations of vegetables, meat, rice, couscous, or anything else someone may want to eat with the versatile bread.
Try cooking this traditional Maghrebi tray of tea, bread, and dips for a delicious, new cultural experience.
Maghrebi Mint Tea
Serves 10 to 12 in small glasses
4 teaspoons green tea
8 sprigs fresh mint
8 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar
Place tea and mint in a teapot
Pour in 1 cup of the boiling water and allow to stand for 10 seconds
Discard water in pot then add sugar and the remaining 7 cups boiling water
Allow tea to steep to desired strength then serve.
Recipe Source: Arab America
Serves 16 5″ beghrir
250 gr of fine semolina
4 tablespoons plain flour (40 gr)
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon yeast
½ teaspoon salt
500 ml warm water
2 teaspoons baking powder
In a blender insert the semolina, flour, sugar, yeast and salt. Add the warm water and blend until there are no lumps and the batter is smooth. (If you don’t have a blender place all the ingredients in a large bowl and use an electric whisk instead of a blender.)
Add the baking powder and blend again for a few seconds. Leave the batter for 30 minutes to allow the yeast to proof and blend again for a few seconds.
Grease a non-stick pan and place it over medium high heat. Wait for the pan to be very hot to start baking the pancakes, otherwise you won’t get many holes on your pancakes.
Place a small amount of batter (as you would for any pancake) and leave the pancake until it dries out. As soon as you place the batter on the pan, the batter should start bubbling and drying out. Once the baghrir is no longer wet (it takes about a minute), it will mean that it is cooked. The baghrirs are cooked only on one side. Never flip them while baking them as you will loose the holes.
Repeat until you’ve used all the batter.
Don’t pile up your Moroccan pancakes while they are still hot, as they will stick to each other. If you want to pile them when they are hot, separate them with a tissue.
Serve hot and top your baghrirs with anything yummy, pretty much like with any other pancake!
Recipe Source: My Moroccan Food