Flaky, buttery, Date Bread – Inspired by the Omani Maldouf

Not too long ago, I had an opportunity to spend time with family in Oman. I was bowled away by the country’s natural beauty, the rugged mountains juxtaposed against magnificent beaches and the dates served everywhere. But somehow, I missed an opportunity to taste good Omani bread and it was an Anthony Bourdain episode on this country that got me curious. One of the first breads I came across was Maldouf, a date flatbread also known as a date chapati. The combination of ground dates and ghee sounded divine, something that would appeal to my sweet toothed parents and in-law, but the egg in the dough was something I wanted to skip.

I started with a recipe from the local paper in Oman, The Oman Times and tweaked it to come up with this. The dates add just a hint of sweetness, the cardamom makes it a tad bit exotic and the ghee leads to the flaky delectable layers.

It takes a bit of time to roll out the dough, but the end result is so worth it. Have it warm as it comes off the griddle or serve it at room temperature with a spicy curry.

Ingredients:

  • 15 pitted dates
  • 1 cup atta (chapati flour) – you can use white whole wheat flour instead
  • 1 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cardamom powder
    ½ tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt.
  • ¼ cup ghee
  • Ghee for shallow frying bread
  • Flour for rolling out bread

How to:

1. Soak the dates in one cup of boiling water for one hour and then grind to a paste with the water in a blender.

2. Once the date paste is ready, whisk the atta, white whole wheat flour, cardamom, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Add the ghee and mix with your hand till it gets a bit crumbly.  Add the date puree and mix the dough well till it all comes together and forms a soft pliable dough.

3. Divide the dough into 12 balls, roll in your hands till smooth, and set aside covered by a damp towel for an hour.

4. Take one ball at a time.  Place on a lightly floured board and roll out into circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter.  With a pastry brush, brush the circle with ghee.  Fold dough from opposite sides to the center, slightly overlapping the ends. Brush some more ghee and bring the other sides to the center forming a square.  Press the dough down, and spread the square into a larger one with 6 inch sides. Repeat with all dough balls.

5. Cook each bread on a medium hot griddle adding some ghee on the sides.  When the bread starts puffing (about 1/2 a minute or so), flip it over and cook till both sides and have nice brown spots.

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