vendredi 14 juillet 2017


I am at Riad Hamdani, a bed and breakfast lodging place, Moroccan style, very comfortable and inspiring near the Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca.

In the morning, facing the garden and the swimming pool I sat down for my breakfast, which I had been looking forward to, I would like a Maghrebi breakfast please! Soon enough ingredients began arriving one by one, apricot marmalade, peanut sauce, citrus marmalade, cheese, yogurt, watermelon, thick crusted Moroccan bread, a tasty omelette but the centre piece was indeed: MSEMEN, a flaky pastry like pancake with layers separated, filled with butter and crispy and very tasty.
It is difficult to make this, the owner, who with her Moroccan husband owns and runs this place, said to me. She is of Belgian origin from a place closer to the German border. It takes very long time, and it has to be spun and suddenly it occurred to me, she is describing something I commonly see in the streets of Cochin, Kerala, India and also in my favourite eating-places in Indian parts of Kuala Lumpur.
Mesamen or musamen (Arabic: مسمن), also called malawi, malawah or murtabak, is a rich traditional, pancake-like bread of the Maghreb, most common to Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. These pancake-like breads are usually an accompaniment to a cup of aromatic morning mint tea or coffee. Msemen can be stuffed with vegetables or meat fillings.

Yes, the humble Paratta or parotha of Kerala is a cousin to this bread, which can be eaten at breakfast or as a snack or filled with meat or potatoes.
I especially felt good about the MSEMEN today, thinking of the young Muslim spinning his murtabak like a dervish in the café that I visit now and then in Fort Cochin, Kerala.

Also the Maulana Indian Resto in Seri Kembangan, where my best friend in asia lives, a good place for Parotta or Murtabak and some curry.
I have had Parottas in
Kerala India
Seria, Brunei, also Kuala Belait 
Doha Qatar
Its cousin in Casablanca
And look forward to learn more about its migration from the Middle East to India as well as Maghreb.
To Kerala, I am sure it came from Saudi to Yemen to Cochin!