To accompany the aloo gobi I made for dinner last week, I decided to pair it with murtabak, which is a lamb-filled flatbread from the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia. Murtabak is one of those foods where there seem to be many variations of it (the English turnover, the Indian roti). In addition to Indonesia, murtabak is a common street food in countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Thailand. Since aloo-gobi is a vegetarian dish (potatoes and cauliflower cooked in a variety of spices), it was great to have a little bit of meat in the meal as well. Meat and onions, spices, all nestled within warm, fried dough-what more do you need?
I’ll admit-the recipe seemed a bit time consuming but post-making it, it really wasn’t too bad. It’s definitely one of those recipes you can do in steps-make the dough, make the filling, break. Reconvene for the rolling out the dough and adding the filling bits, and ultimately right before serving it, the frying part. This was yet another terrific recipe from one of my newest cookbook acquisitions, Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking. It really makes me want to hop a plane tomorrow to Asia and visit as many countries as I can there, strictly for food sampling purposes of course!
And you could certainly experiment with this recipe, swapping ground lamb for beef, chicken, or even turkey for something different.
(Sorry for the poor quality photos-bad lighting paired with “dough” color doesn’t make for optimal photographs)
Murtabak (Lamb-Filled Flatbread)-Indonesia
Recipe courtesy of Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking
For the dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee or canola oil, plus extra for greasing and frying
3/4 cup warm water
For the filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeno chile
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 lb ground (minced) lamb
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (fresh coriander)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
MAKES 6 FLATBREADS
-To make the dough, sift together the 3 cups flour and the salt into a large bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons ghee and use your fingers to rub it into the flour mixture until the mixture is the consistency of coarse meal. Slowly drizzle in the warm water, tossing, gathering, and pressing with your hands to incorporate, until the mixture comes together in a rough mass. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Using your hands, roll each piece into a neat ball. Rub the balls of dough with ghee, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
-To make the filling, in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, chile, coriander, cumin, and turmeric and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Crumble the lamb into the pan and saute, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Add the cilantro, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and stir to mix well. Let the filling cool to room temperature.
-Brush a clean work surface with ghee. Working with 1 dough ball at a time, use a rolling pan to flatten it into a disk and then roll it out into an oval about 1/8 inch thick. Using your fingers, spread the dough gently into a thinner oval about 6 by 10 inches; it should be paper-thin, smooth, and elastic.
-Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the beaten egg onto each dough round and spread all over the surface with the back of the spoon. Sprinkle 1/6 of the filling on one-half of the dough and fold the the other half over to cover. Fold in the edges of the dough and pinch to seal and enclose the filling. Heat a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat and brush with ghee. Working in batches, add the filled dough to the pan and cook until crisp and golden brown on the first side, about 5 minutes. Carefully turn and cook until the second side is crisp and golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Keep warm in the oven while you assemble and fry the remaining breads.
Cut each flatbread into 4 pieces, arrange on a warmed platter, and serve at once.