Aish Merahrah – Egyptian Fenugreek Corn Bread
Aish Merahrah is an Egyptian flat bread made with 5 -10% ground fenugreek seeds and maize. It is part of the traditional diet of the Egyptian countryside, prepared locally in village homes in Upper Egypt. Aish Merahrah is similar to markouk, a Lebanese bread. The loaves are flat and wide, and usually about 50 cm in diameter.
The bread is made of maize flour that has been made into a soft dough that is fermented overnight with a sourdough starter, shaped into round loaves that are then allowed to rise or “proof” for 30 minutes before being flattened into round disks that are then baked. They can be kept for days in an airtight container. The addition of fenugreek seeds increases the protein content, storage length and digestibility of the bread.
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seed, dry-roasted in a heavy skillet and ground to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder or mortar & pestle
- 1 teaspoon dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1½ cups lukewarm water
- 2 to 3 cups unbleached white flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups cornflour
- Place the warm water in a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast and sugar; stir until they are dissolved. Then stir in 1½ cups of the white flour (keep stirring in the same direction) -- 100 stirs, about 1 minute.
- Stir the salt and ground fenugreek into the dough. Then gradually stir in the cornflour. Stir in some more white flour until the dough won't take more flour and then turn it out to a lightly floured board. Knead the dough for about 5 to 6 minutes, adding flour only if needed.
- Put the dough into a lightly oiled medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.
- Punch it down and then let it rest for 5 minutes so that it is workable. Lightly oil several large baking sheets.
- Cut the dough into 8 pieces on a lightly floured board. Place between palms and flatten. Then, with a rolling pin, roll out each piece to a 15 cm circle. Place each piece on a baking sheet. Cover the breads with plastic wrap and let rise again for 20 minutes.
- Place a rack in the centre of the oven; preheat oven to 205°C.
- Bake the breads, one sheet at a time, for 12 to 15 minutes. They should be lightly browned on both sides. Remove and let cool on racks.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.