Wednesday 21 March 2018

Murtabak with Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

I blame this recipe on my love of watching street food videos on YouTube.

One of the videos introduced me to the murtabak which is a popular all-day street food in Asia and the Middle East.
It's a crispy pastry pancake filled with anything you like. I went with a savoury version of curried chicken, lots of onions and eggs.

Not going to lie guys, there is a bit of an art to making a really good murtabak. The key lies in the pastry. It's a simple one to put together - just flour, water and oil. The real technique comes when rolling the dough out. Dough balls are soaked in vegetable oil (yes, really!) which helps to make them softer and smoother.
Once they've soaked, you can literally press them out as thin as you can get them with your fingers. If you want to attempt a few flips with the pastry like the incredibly skilled street food vendors, go for it. I made do with getting the dough as thin as possible without it tearing.

Beaten eggs are stirred into the cooled chicken onion mixture and this is what fills our murtabak. You can deep or shallow fry the murtabak and I've given instructions for both. On the side, I made a simple but very effective sweet chilli sauce and a batch of pickled cucumbers and shallots. The two go really well with the rich pastry.

A Simple List of Ingredients:

For the Chicken Filling:
1. Vegetable Oil
2. Shallots
3. Onion
4. Chicken Mince
5. Salt
6. Curry Powder
7. Sugar
8. White Pepper
9. Spring Onions
10. Eggs

For the Sweet Chilli Sauce:
1. Brown Sugar
2. Sugar
3. Water
4. Green Chillies
5. Garlic
6. Lemon Juice

For the Pastry:
1. Plain Flour
2. Vegetable Oil
3. Salt
4. Water

For the Quick Pickle:
1. Cucumber
2. Shallots
3. Vinegar

Bismillah, let's begin!

We start by making the chicken and onion filling so that it has enough time to cool. First job? Peel 10 Shallots and 2 medium Onions.

Finely slice them all.

Then, heat up a few tablespoons Vegetable Oil in a large pan over a medium heat.

Throw in the shallots and onions.

Fry them until golden and fragrant.

Time for the meat. I used 300g Chicken Mince but you can also use any other mince that you have in the house.

Add in the chicken mince.

Sprinkle in:
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Curry Powder
3/4 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon White Pepper

Stir fry the mixture for around 10 minutes until the chicken is no longer pink and is cooked through.

Finally, time to add in our third type of onion - spring onions! Finely slice up 10 Spring Onions.

Add in the heaping pile of spring onions.

Let them cook for 5 minutes then remove from the heat.

Let the mixture cool completely.

Next, let's make our sweet chilli sauce. You can just serve the murtabak with ready-made sauce but this one is pretty easy to cook. It starts by putting 75g Brown Sugar and 25g Sugar in a deep saucepan.

Pour in 300ml Water.

Stir and bring the mixture to a boil until the sugars have dissolved.

Our sweet chilli sauce is sweet and now, we need our chillies. I used 10 Green Chillies which may seem a lot but I promise, the sweet sauce can take it.

Finely slice the chillies and add to the pan. Feel free to deseed or add less chillies, if you prefer.

Add in 1 Garlic Clove, peeled and thinly sliced.

Let the sauce boil.

Then, leave it to cook for 10-15 minutes over a low heat until ...

... it has thickened up a little. It won't be really thick at this point but will get thicker as it cools.

Finally, squeeze in 2 tablespoons Lemon Juice to brighten the sauce up.

Cool the sauce completely.

While the filling and sauce cool, we can make the pastry for our murtabak. I made mine in the stand mixer but it can easily be made by hand. Measure out 300g Plain Flour.

Add in 1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil and 1/2 teaspoon Salt.

Gradually add in 190ml Water, at room temperature.

Mix as you go until you have a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Knead for a few minutes.

Then, divide into 8-10 balls.

Soak the dough balls in Vegetable Oil for at least 1 hour.

Sounds a strange thing to do but doing this will help make the pastry softer and easier to shape later.

Once the filling is cool, stir in 4 beaten Eggs.

If you want the filling more or less eggy, adjust the eggs as you like.

Get the dough balls out of the oil.

To make one murtabak, place a dough ball onto an oiled surface.

Using your fingers, flatten the dough out until it's as thin as you can get it without it tearing.

Place about 2 tablespoons of the filling into the middle of the pastry.

And, firmly but loosely fold the pastry into a square. It doesn't have to be perfect and if it's your first time making these, it may take a couple of tries before you get it right.

There are two options when frying the murtabak. 

First, you can deep-fry them in hot Vegetable Oil. This will get the murtabak really crispy, almost like samosas. It is the more difficult of the two methods as flipping these large pastries is a two-hand job. If you choose this way, quickly place the pastry into the hot oil and fry until golden brown and crispy - about 7-8 minutes.

The second option is to shallow fry the pastries in a few tablespoons of vegetable oil. I tore one of the pastries and didn't want to deep fry so cooked it this way and found is so much easier.

Pan frying this way is actually my preferred method. The resulting murtabak are not as crispy as their deep-fried counterparts but are more like pancakes or paratha. To cook this way, heat up a few tablespoons vegetable oil in a frying pan before carefully and quickly putting in the murtabak. Cook, flipping occasionally, until the murtabak is golden brown - about 7-8 minutes.

Continue assembling and frying the rest of the murtabak.

They're best eaten fresh and crispy.

Along with the now thickened homemade sweet chilli sauce.

And, a sharp pickle to balance the rich pastry and sweet spicy sauce. To make it, simply mix together: 1 Cucumber, seeds removed and finely sliced
8 Shallots, peeled and finely sliced
Pickling or White Vinegar, enough to cover the vegetables.

Let the pickle sit in the fridge until you're ready to eat.

Yes, these murtabak are a bit of a project but well worth the effort. Crispy, deeply savoury and delicious with a cold drink. Enjoy!

Murtabak with Sweet Chilli Sauce.

crispy pastries filled with curried chicken, onion and egg + a spicy sweet sauce for dipping.

Prep Time: About 30 minutes + time for cooling.
Cook Time: About 45 minutes.
Serves: Makes 8 large pastries.


For the Chicken Filling
3 tablespoons Vegetable Oil
10 Shallots, peeled and finely sliced
2 medium Onions, peeled and finely sliced
300g Chicken Mince
1 teaspoon Salt
2 teaspoons Curry Powder
3/4 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon White Pepper
10 Spring Onions, finely sliced
4 Eggs, beaten

For the Sweet Chilli Sauce
75g Brown Sugar
25g Sugar
300ml Water
10 Green Chillies, finely sliced
1 Garlic Clove, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Lemon Juice

For the Pastry
300g Plain Flour
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
190ml Water, at room temperature
Vegetable Oil, to fry

For the Quick Pickle
1 Cucumber, seeds removed and finely sliced
8 Shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Pickling or White Vinegar, enough to cover the vegetables

Cook the filling:
Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and onions. Fry until they're golden and fragrant. Add the chicken mince, salt, sugar, curry powder and white pepper. Stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink and is cooked - about 10 minutes. Stir in the spring onions and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely.

Make the sweet chilli sauce:
Place the brown sugar, sugar and water into a deep saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the garlic and green chillies. Simmer until the sauce has thickened up - about 15 minutes. It will thicken up even more as it cools. Add the lemon juice and let the sauce cool.

Make the pastry:
Place the flour, vegetable oil and salt into a bowl. Gradually add the water, kneading as you go until the dough comes together. Continue kneading until you have a smooth but slightly sticky dough. Divide the dough into 8-10 balls. Place the balls into a pan or bowl and cover with vegetable oil. Let them soak in the oil for at least 1 hour.

Make the pickle:
In a bowl, mix together the cucumber, shallots and vinegar. Let them sit in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Assemble and fry the murtabak:
Stir the beaten eggs into the cool chicken filling. Heat enough vegetable oil to shallow or deep fry the murtabak in a pan. Take a ball of dough and flatten it out on an oiled surface until it's very thin. Place 2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle and wrap the pastry up to enclose the filling. Carefully transfer it to the hot oil and fry until the pastry is golden brown and crispy. Continue making the rest.

Serve the murtabak immediately as they're best eaten fresh. Enjoy them with the sweet chilli sauce and pickle.

Keep me in your duas please, and enjoy your murtabak!

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!

Spice Enthusiast
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