Msemen (dialectal, from Arabic: مسمن, translit. musamman; also Romanized mesamen, musamen; also called malawi, malawah or murtabak) is a rich traditional, pancake-like bread of the Maghreb, most common to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. It is usually an accompaniment to a cup of aromatic morning mint tea or coffee, but can also be stuffed with vegetables or meat fillings.

Msemen-like bread is used to make the Egyptian feteer meshaltet, a layered pastry made from one or more msemen stacked on top of each other. Feteer meshaltet, which is sweet or savory, can be eaten as is or stuffed with optional fillings.[1][2]

Origin of the name

The original name is derived from the Arabic word samn or smen, meaning "clarified butter". The word musamman or mesamen 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 malawi 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, later cut into several balls which are then rolled out on an oiled surface and folded into square pancakes. The goal is 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 is that while one is folding, one must sprinkle semolina on the layers to prevent them from sticking entirely and to allow the heat to then separate them when cooked on a griddle.[3][4]

See also


  1. Marzouk, Sarah (February 12, 2017). "A Brief History of Fiteer, Egypt's Pizza-Like Pastry". The Culture Trip. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  2. Amira (November 5, 2014). "Alexandrian Feteer i.e. Pizza Feteer". Amira's Pantry. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  3. Samuel Clark, Samantha Clark. The Moro Cookbook. Ebury Press, 2003. ISBN 009188084X.
  4. Alain Jaouhari. Marruecos: La cocina de mi madre. Intermón Oxfam Editorial, 2005. ISBN 8484523535.
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