This month MENA Cooking Club is visiting Jordan and the host of the month is Evelyne from Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Jordan has always been a country that I have wanted to visit. I would love to look through the pink cave, snorkel in the red sea, or enjoy one of the hot springs that has healing properties.
This month we had lots of goodies to choose from, but since I have already made most I decided to go with a traditional Bedouin bread called shrak. Shrak has been on my to do list for awhile now, but I have been scared to try. One would think anything a Bedouin would make should be simple since they did not have a lot to work with, but you could not be further from the truth. They grew up doing these recipes and I’m sure they could do so even with their eyes closed. If you want good bread go to a Bedouin.
Shrak bread is a large paper thin bread. It is spun around with your hands until it’s large, thin and then slapped on the saj on an open fire. I had such a journey with this bread, but like all of those who love to bake it was fun and I learned a lot. The first batch I made I used half buckwheat flour and yeast. I should have known better then to use a flour I had never worked with before. The flour was really sticky and I ended up having to add a lot of extra flour to work with it, when I was cooking the bread it had a strange odor and then when we tried it, well it was sweet. Buckwheat flour is actually made from flowers and the taste was like a strong molasses, I was not happy so I tried again a few days later.
A lot of places around Riyadh make saj bread which some people also call markook. I had got in my head that it was silly adding yeast to this mixture since yeast is used to get a rise and that is something we do not want. Sure enough, when I found a place and asked yeast was not added. The recipe ended up being simple with just flour, water and oil. I was really worried that I would not be able to get the dough as thin as the original shrak, but the dough was really easy to work with, I was able to get it really thin with my hands and throwing it back and forth.
I ended up using a small dome cake pan that I had. I just turned the stove top on medium heat, allowed it to get hot and threw the bread on the top. One of the keys is that you want a flour to dust it in, I kept it on my counter. The flour makes it easy to work with and made me able to get it very thin. I made all of the breads about less than half of the usual size since it was just easier for me baking indoors. There really is not a certain time to cook them, just stand there watching over them and as soon as they start getting the little brown bubbles (this is what makes shrak, shrak after all) place them on a plate. I covered mine with plastic wrap so they would soften up and would be easy to roll later on. You can eat the bread alone or use them to wrap meats such as sharwarma.
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup warm water
1. In a mixing bowl, add flour, salt and olive oil, mix well. Gradually add water until a soft dough has formed. Place in a food processor and mix well.
2. Set up your indoor saj and cook until small golden bubbles appear. Place on a plate and cover with plastic wrap until needed.
Yields: 12-16 small breads
By the way check out all of our wonderful treats on Pinterest here.