Sunday, March 8, 2009

Murtabak (Stuffed Meat Pancake)

Such a beautiful weekend day today! Ground snow melting, sunshine on my face and I am down to 2 layers of clothing. Despite the lost hour sleep due to the change of clock time, I was not complaining . Spring will be here very soon and I can't wait to bring my camera outside to snap some blue skies and flower buds.

Contrary to some thoughts, I am not a very big eater of rice and the 2 dishes with 1 soup mealtime requirement of the Chinese family. Curry is a very typical Cantonese bloke who was nourished by his parents' daily soups that were supposed to keep him healthy. And until I married him, I have never drank so much soup nor made it in my life. I prefer light meals with as little ingredients as possible and I can happily survive on sandwiches for dinner.

As the days get warmer, I long for something light that doesn't fill me up and knowing that it is time that I shed off the extra pounds that were piled up during the winter months!

This pancake is available throughout Malaysia and Singapore and usually eaten during breakfast and tea time at Indian Muslim restaurants, served with a small plate of watery lentil curry or chunky piece of meat in curry gravy. The dough is stretched very thin and cooked on a flat hot surface. When I am back on vacation in Malaysia, I always have the plain version of this pancake known as Roti Canai and seldom try the Murtabak. So, for dinner tonight, I needed something more substantial with a meat filling and I also cooked up some potato curry as side dish to go along with it.

The idea to make this came from a cookbook that I borrowed from my friend, CrazyMommy. Although I have numerous cookbooks, sometimes I don't see recipes that I want to see and never able to locate a recipe I want when I needed it! With luck, CrazyMommy's recipe book was flaunting at my face when I went over for a playdate.

Although I was not a champion in stretching thin and flipping the dough like those they make in the restaurants, I tried my best with my small rolling pin and pinch and pull technics of my fingers. Surprisingly, I avoided alot of tears by pinching and pulling from the sides of the dough and go anti-clockwise motion as I went along. The meat filling consists of minced beef cooked with onion and ginger with spices and cooked separately while the dough has been shaped to balls and rested for 2 hours. The addition of cumin powder with garam masala gives the filling a slight spicy kick and the pancake itself was slightly sweet from the addition of sugar. Murtabak must be served warm as it hardens after a while.


The recipe was adapted from the cookbook titled 'Malaysian Hawker Favourites' by Periplus.

In addition to 150gm of all purpose flour, I added 50 gm of bread flour. I thought this would give a better stretchiness to the overall dough. The addition of sugar is a must to give the pancake a contrasting taste to the meat filling which is slightly spicy and savory. I melted my butter to very soft mushy texture before adding it to the flour with the milk added lastly to gather up to make the dough. Kneading with hands will be best and at least 8 minutes of elbow grease to make the dough light and elastic. The dough was then divided into 5 balls, which was then oiled and let to rest for 2 hours. I used vegetable oil and left the dough balls inside the dark oven.

I am pretty sure that this cookbook was written by and for the Western market as it required cumin powder and garam masala. In Malaysia, all we do is add the widely available concocted curry powder to the meat and cook away. Ground cumin is a very lovely spice that gives the distinctive aroma to the curry powder while garam masala contributes more to the taste rather than smell. I skipped the addition of the chopped chilli so that Missy E can enjoy something different from her usual rice and soup dishes. And not forgetting Prince D who must have everything we have! I find the original recipe of adding one egg to each pancake filling too outrageous and just used one beaten egg for the whole meat filling.

The rolling and stretching part of the dough took some time. I just took each ball and squished them first with my fingers to flatten them. This makes the dough spreads out to the sides and when I started rolling them with the rolling pin, the middle part would thin out easily. Continue pinching the edges as thin as possible. The meat filling was then spooned into the middle part and the dough was folded from both horizontal and vertical edges to form a parcel shape. Using a non stick pan drizzled with vegetable oil, each pancake was pan-fried on low heat for 5 mins on each side till slightly charred. The cooked pancakes were then cut to quarter sections and served with the potato curry.

1 comment:

danny kwok said...

murtabaka and roti prata...such a commonality but a luxury. I suppose this took long to make too? I always see the hawkers put a lot of oil.

but I can see the result is shiok..yum yum...

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