I first had Murtabak long, long ago, in the days before I became a vegan, and I loved it. This delicious Malaysian dish is typically made by stuffing minced meat, usually lamb, and eggs inside the folds of a paper-thin flatbread.
It reminded me somewhat of a paratha, although that is more often vegetarian, so I wasn't surprised to hear that Murtabak first originated among Malaysia's huge Indian population.
I don't often cook with meat substitutes 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 keema would be. Contrasted with the crispy-thin overlay of bread, it is deliciousness itself.So here's the recipe.
Now on to the vegan Murtabak, a wonderful treat from Malaysia.
Vegan Murtabak: A Malaysian Treat
For the stuffing:
- 16 oz vegan sausage (I used Gimme Lean)
- 1 medium onion , minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- ⅓ cup raisins
- ¼ cup sunflower seeds (optional-- I like the slight crunch they add)
- 2 green chillies , minced
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 cup firm tofu , crumbled
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Make the dough for the flatbread
- 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.
Make the filling
- 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.
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 tablespoon 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.
- Serve hot with a spiced herb dip (recipe follows).
Dip for murtabak
- Food processor or blender
- ¼ cup loosely packed mint leaves
- 1 cup firm tofu
- ½ cup soy yogurt (optional)
- ½ 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.