Today I’m sharing a recipe for my family’s favourite, Khobz Ftir bel Chakchouka.
An Algerian semolina galette stuffed with a cooked-down onion and tomato Chakchouka.
My 5 & a half year old asks me to make this Chakchouka-stuffed Ftir for dinner A LOT. That’s when he’s not busy asking for the un-stuffed version at breakfast!
Chakchouka / Shakshuka
You may be thinking “oh that’s not Chakchouka a.k.a. Shakshuka, it hasn’t any eggs floating on top?!” well here we make Chakchouka without eggs most of the time, suits me as I’m not much of a fan. It is mainly made in summer, when onions, peppers and tomatoes are in peak season and very cheap.
Fresh is Best!
When those summer-food cravings strike during winter, here we don’t have to resort to tinned tomatoes. We still find ripe juicy tomatoes in the local food markets or street sellers and let me tell you, they are worth all of those extra dinars.
In general, children don’t seem (to me) to be big fans of food with onion chopped a little on the chunky side. Is Chakchouka the exception? well 2/3 of mine like Chakchouka, admittedly mainly inside Ftir or Mhadjeb. Really anything that remotely resembles a Pizza is a go.
You could chop the onion finer in a food processor but I think it takes away from the overall textural experience of the stuffed Ftir.
Crisp crumbly semolina crust, enveloping naturally sweet – with a little harissa heat, cooked-down onion and tomato.
Often Khobz Ftir bel Chakchouka is circular in shape. This requires a bit more accuracy and arm work to divide and roll out the dough therefore, I prefer this easier semi-circle shape. The shape reminds me of Cornish pasties and Calzone pizzas.
While I like making this for dinner as an alternative to pizza, the easy to carry slices make for a satisfying on-the-go snack. Think work or school lunch boxes and yes it’s still as tasty (just maybe a little softer) eaten at room temp, as it is eaten fresh and warm from the Tadjine.
Where it all started
Ftir is of Berber / Amazigh origin and known by various names: Kesra, Aghroum n’tajine etc depending on the region of Algeria.
I tasted a similar version at my sister-in-law’s house – made by her sister-in-law. Hers had dollops of cream cheese added to the chakchouka layer when assembling. I loved it so much I’ve been recreating it ever since, without the cream cheese as my kids hate it!
Enough of my chitter chatter, on to the recipe…..
Khobz Ftir bel Chakchouka
An Algerian semolina galette stuffed with a cooked-down onion & tomato mixture.
For the Chakchouka:
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 Large Onion (chopped)
- Salt (to taste)
- 2 Large Tomatoes (peeled & chopped)
- 1 tsp Harissa paste
For the Khobz Ftir Dough:
- 350 g Plain Flour ((Or all-purpose / bread flour))
- 150 g Semolina (Fine)
- 1 ½ Tsp Salt
- 50 ml Vegetable Oil
- 2 tbsp Olive Oil (extra virgin)
- Semolina (Coarse (or extra-coarse))
- In a large frying pan(preferably with a lid) over low-medium heat, add oil, add onion and a pinch of salt, stir to combine then cover and allow the onion to gently soften while you prep the tomatoes.
- Remove cover, stir in harissa paste allow to cook a minute or two then stir in tomatoes, cover, increase heat a little and allow to cook until tomato sauce has reduced and thickened. Transfer chakchouka to a large dish or plate and let it cool to room temperature. Meanwhile…..
Prepare Khobz Ftir:
- In a medium size bowl, mix together all the dry ingredients. Rub oils into the flour mixture with your fingertips, until the mixture is an even sandy texture.
- Add water (doesn’t need to be warm) a little at a time, you need just enough to bring the dough together into a rough ball. Cover bowl and leave for 10-15 minutes.
- Divide dough into 2 or 4, depending on how large your cooking surface is.
- Pre-heat tadjine**(see notes for alternative suggestions)
- Working with one ball of dough at a time, coat worktop & dough with semolina***, first slightly flatten dough by hand then with a rolling pin, roll out into a large circle (a little smaller than the tadjine), about 2-3mm thick.
Assemble & Cook:
- Spread half (or a quarter, depending on many you divided the dough into) the chakchouka on the lower half of the dough circle.
- Carefully pat a little water with your finger tips around the outer circumference of the dough.
- Fold the top half of dough over the chakchouka to form a semi-circle.
- Seal the joining of the dough by crimping with a fork, then pierce the surface.
- Transfer to tadjine and cook on both sides. Cook until ftir is crisp and deeply golden – rotate often.
- Repeat with remaining dough and chakchouka.
• *Harissa paste is optional and can be replaced with other hot sauce or chillipowder.
• **Metal Tadjine alternatives: tawa/tava, large heavy-based frying pan/skillet, crepe pan, hot plate, flat griddle pan.
• *** Keep dusting work surface and dough with semolina as you are rolling it out into a circle.