Moroccan food

Mad for Mafouna A Delicious Moroccan Specialty

Lauren A
by Lauren Almonte

March 28, 2019

2 minute read

When you hear the word pizza, you might immediately think of Italy. If not Italy, then perhaps you imagine Chicago’s deep dish pies or maybe even Brooklyn’s thin crust slices. I bet you don’t think of Morocco, home to madfouna.

Moroccan bread

Nicknamed “Berber pizza” and “Amazigh flatbread,” this mouthwatering meal is cooked in the Sahara Desert. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking: how do you cook pizza in the desert? Unlike the ‘zas we are all familiar with, madfouna utilizes the elements of its unfavourable environment to cook the pizza in an unconventional way: in the sand. Before your mind runs away to all the sandy beach-lunches you’ve endured over the years, consider the traditional Berber style of cooking pizza.

First, you must dig a hole in the sand as the base of your “oven.” After the hole is formed, a small fire is then lit to heat the cooking stones. The dough is stuffed with a variety of ingredients depending on your preference – although the most common fillings are beef, onions, eggs, and nuts. Reflective of the country’s proclivity for spices, a large assortment of herbs and flavours are also added. Popular spices for madfouna are cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger, and parsley. The dough is pinched over the top of the filling, similar to a large dumpling, and then pressed and flattened. This dough-patty is then placed directly onto the hot cooking stones before being covered with sand. Now all there is to do is wait!

Morocco mud oven

When your stuffed pizza is finally done cooking and it’s removed from the sand, don’t let its first appearance fool you. The charred-black crust (and sand!) is carefully removed with a clean cloth and knife. Underneath this burnt exterior you’ll find a golden crust of yummy-goodness, which is only hiding its delectable insides that have been cooked to tender perfection.

Desperate to try madfouna but don’t have a desert on hand? Madfouna is also traditionally baked in a mud oven, especially in the city areas of Rissani. Although some foreigners claim to have mastered different Berber pizza recipes for modern ovens, the savoury smoky taste that makes madfouna so enticing can only be created with the traditional methods. Looks like you’ll just have to go to Morocco to get the real deal!

Share this post with your friends!