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Mesamen or musamen (Arabic: مسمن), also called malawi, malawah or murtabak, is a rich traditional, pancake-like bread of the Maghreb, most common to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. These pancake-like breads are usually an accompaniment to a cup of aromatic morning mint tea or coffee. Msemen can be stuffed with vegetables or meat fillings.

Origin name[edit]

The original name is derived from the Arabic word samen or smen, meaning "clarified butter". The word me-samen or mu-samen means "with clarified butter", because it is a substantial ingredient to prepare the bread.

A variety that is made from pulling the dough into strands and forming a disk is called is also called m'lawi in North-Africa.



The recipe uses flour, durum wheat semolina, dry yeast, melted butter, salt, sugar and a bit of water. These are mixed well together into a smooth dough mixture. The dough is cut into several balls, which are then rolled out on an oiled surface and folded into square pancakes. The goal being to spread the dough into the thinnest square or circle and then fold the sides back into a square, creating the signature layers of dough. Once the msemen is folded, another is spread that one is used to envelope a prior folded msemen so as to create about 8 internal layers of dough.

The key being that while one is folding, one must sprinkle semolina on the layers to prevent the layers from sticking entirely and to allow for the heat to then separate the layers when cooked on a griddle.[1][2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Samuel Clark, Samantha Clark. The Moro Cookbook. Ebury Press, 2003. ISBN 009188084X. 
  2. ^ Alain Jaouhari. Marruecos: La cocina de mi madre. Intermón Oxfam Editorial, 2005. ISBN 8484523535.