“Khubz” is the Arabic word for “bread,” and in Morocco, there’s plenty of it. In this series, I’ll introduce you to numerous bread varieties, and I’ll even show you how to make them. You may want to loosen your belt for this.
Let me begin this post by stating that the name of this blog series, “Khubz Chronicles,” might be a little misleading to a Moroccan. Khubz is the Arabic word for bread, and to English speakers, we deem a number of flour-based products as bread. However, Moroccans aren’t nearly as liberal with bread-naming as we might be. Mesamen (which I already wrote about) and harcha are both examples of foods that we English speakers might just call “bread.” If you were to call all bread products “khubz” in front of Moroccans, you might get a good laugh out them. This post is about the bread product that’s actually called “bread,” or the khubz that’s actually called “khubz,” for that matter.
I can’t think of many things that are more Moroccan than khubz; I’ve seriously had vivid
nightmares dreams about the stuff. These round loaves are made with love, and it’s hard to say no when an adorable Moroccan woman shoves half a loaf in your face. Almost all Moroccan women know how to make khubz (assumption), and 99.9999% of Moroccans eat it (yet another assumption). Unlike the bread we eat with meals in Western cuisine, Moroccans use khubz as a vessel for eating meat or vegetables from a communal tagine. Family meals are paramount in Moroccan daily life, and khubz plays a crucial role. It’s seen as a life-giving item and is treated with respect. Throwing away perfectly good khubz, rather than giving it to the poor (or to feral cats), is perceived as shameful, and I’m actually guilty of having thrown it away a time or two.
While khubz is easily identifiable regardless of its location in Morocco, it does reflect the nuances of its region. For example, some regions will bake their khubz with white flour, while others will use wheat, rye, bran, or barley. Rural communities tend to use dome-shaped, wood-burning ovens, while more urban towns often use communal ovens. Alternatively, some towns (like mine) have both; now let’s make some khubz!
|4 c flour (fendi)||1 tbsp baking powder (khmira)||1 tsp sugar (sukkar)|
|1 pot warm water (ma)||2 tsp salt (milHa)||1 c bran (zra)|
Step 1: In a large plate or earthenware tagine, mix all dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar) except for the bran; that comes later. Pour some of the warm water into the mixture and begin to knead.
Step 2: Add more water or flour as needed; the dough should be solid but malleable.
Step 3: Once the dough is well-kneaded, dust the dough—and the large plate or tagine—with flour.
Step 4: Begin sectioning off the dough into smaller portions; you may choose the size of your portions depending on how big or small you want your loaves to be. The recipe I’ve provided makes about 2 or 3 loaves, but my friend in the photos is making about 6 loaves.
Step 5: Dust your large plate with flour and bran, then begin flattening the dough. Khubz is traditionally round, but it can be any shape. Once you’ve flattened the dough, place it on a baking sheet or cloth for 30 minutes.
Step 6: If you’re a Moroccan, you’ll probably take your dough to a communal oven; if you’re not, preheat your oven to 400° F and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Here are some pictures I took while waiting for my neighbor’s bread to bake.
Step 7: EAT IT! EAT ALL OF IT.
I highly suggest baking khubz at least once, because it really is delicious. No, it definitely doesn’t qualify as Paleo or Atkins, but I honestly don’t think Moroccan culture can be completely understood without trying it at least once. Besides, you’ll probably find yourself coming back for more.