Murtabak

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Murtabak
MURTABAK 1 0031.jpg
A cook making murtabak
Alternative name(s) Murtabak, mutabbaq
Place of origin Yemen and Saudi Arabia

Martabak or murtabak, also mutabbaq, (Arabic: مطبق‎) is a stuffed pancake or pan-fried bread which is commonly found in Saudi Arabia (especially the Tihamah and the Hejaz regions), Yemen, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand. Depending on the location, the name and ingredients can significantly vary. The name mutabbaq (or sometimes mutabbag) in Arabic means "folded". In Indonesia, the Murtabak is one of the most popular street foods and is known as "martabak".

In Malaysia, where it is called "murtabak", it is sold in Indian Muslim restaurants and stalls, and usually includes minced mutton, along with garlic, egg and onion, and is eaten with curry gravy, sliced cucumber, onions and tomato sauce. Murtabak also usually includes mutton in Yemen. In Indonesia, particularly Jakarta and other cities, it is called "martabak", and has two versions: a sweet one, and a savory one with egg and meat. Lately, vegetarian murtabaks and other forms of murtabaks with chicken and other stuffings exist and can be found in many Indian Muslim restaurants in Singapore, most famous being those restaurants facing the Sultan Mosque near Arab Street.

History[edit]

Murtabak originated in Yemen, which has sizable Indian population; through Indian traders it has spread back to their home countries, to India and southeast of Asia. The word mutabbaq in Arabic means "folded". The dish referred to as Murtabak is a multi layered pancake that originated in the state of Kerala where the people referred to as "mamak's" (Tamil language = uncle) hail from. The word "mutabar" is the correct name for the particular dish referred to incorrectly as "murtabak". "Mutabar" is an amalgam of two words, "muta" (being the Keralite word for egg, a significant component of the dish) and "bar", an abbreviated form of the word barota, or "bratha roti" (the bread the egg is added on to make the dish). The bread base or pancake on which it is then spread over is referred to in Hindi as "pratha roti" or "pratha". (Note the difference in pronunciations, pratha and brata).

There are similar versions of the bread in places as Yemen and other regions of the Arabic world and in Persia. All of these places in the Middle East were visited by Indian traders centuries ago and it would not be unusual for them to have learned from each other or to have adopted each other's culinary habits and practices. However, the word "mutabar" is the correct name for the egg chilli and onion flavoured multi layered pancake.


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