When I announced Malaysian as the cuisine for this month’s It’s A Vegan World, I knew rightaway that I wanted to make Murtabak again, but this time a vegan version of it. I don’t often cook with meat substitutes because I don’t care much for them, but I also wanted to make sure I kept the integrity of this satisfying, hearty dish that makes one want to burp with satisfaction and lick one’s fingers till every last bit is gone.
TVP was out because even softened and cooked, it is not soft enough for stuffing inside a delicate bread. After looking over the meat substitute shelf at Whole Foods, I finally picked up a package of vegan sausage (Gimme Lean).
The meat, or in this case the vegan sausage, is cooked with a mixture of spices and onions not unlike a kheema would be. Contrasted with the crispy-thin overlay of bread, it is deliciousness itself.
So here’s the recipe, and a reminder to get cooking and send me your vegan Malaysian dishes before the deadline, Sept. 5. This is not difficult, folks– Malaysian cuisine is chock-full of delicious vegetarian foods that would appeal to anyone’s tastebuds. In fact, here’s a great resource from a reader who just sent in her recipe to IAVW: Malaysian Delicacies. Sudha’s blog has lots of delicious-looking vegetarian dishes to get you started, if you haven’t already.
For the bread:
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour plus more as needed
1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup soy yogurt
2 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
2 tbsp flaxmeal + 6 tbsp water, whisked together
1 tsp salt
Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Knead the dough around 10 minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until you have a smooth dough. Place in an oiled bowl or container, turning over once to coat the top of the dough, cover, and set aside at least for half an hour.
For the stuffing:
1 pound ground vegan sausage (I used Gimme Lean)
1 medium onion, minced
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1/3 cup black raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds (optional– I like the slight crunch they add)
2 green chillies, minced
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup firm tofu, crumbled
Juice of one lemon
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp canola oil
Heat the oil in a skillet and when warmed, add onions. Saute until they begin to soften, about 8 minutes.
Add the ginger and garlic, stir quickly, then add the sausage, breaking it up into little bits as you put it in the skillet.
Stir-fry until the sausage starts to brown, then add the powdered spices and salt to taste and stir fry for a few more minutes.
Add the crumbled tofu and stir again. If the sausage is still clumping together, mash it down with a ladle or with a potato masher until it is broken up into tiny bits.
Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the raisins and sunflower seeds and mix thoroughly. Add lemon juice, sugar and mint and stir in. Turn off the heat and set aside to cool.
The assemble the murtabak:
Tear off a lemon-sized piece of the dough and roll it between your palms into a smooth ball.
Using just as much flour as is necessary, roll into a very thin disc, about 8 inches in diameter. The dough will put up some resistance at first, but it will relax eventually. You should be able to see the countertop through the rolled disc, that’s how thin it should be. Don’t worry– the dough is pretty elastic and doesn’t tear very easily.
Now place about 3-4 ttbsp of the stuffing in the center of the disc, leaving a border of about 2 inches.
Fold over the top and then the bottom of the disc over the stuffing, and then fold in the sides, until you have a packet. Push the stuffing into the corners of the packet using your fingers, so it is even.
Sprinkle some flour on the countertop and roll the packet out into a square of about 6 inches.
Heat a cast-iron or non-stick griddle and smear some oil on it. Now place the murtabak on it and cook until golden-brown spots appear on the bottom. Flip over and cook until spots appear on the other side.
Before serving, cut into four squares.
1/4 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 cup firm tofu
1/2 cup soy yogurt (optional)
1/2 cup soy milk
1 green chilli, minced
Salt to taste.
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until you have a smooth dip. Add more soy milk if necessary.
Remove to a bowl.