Since the onset of the Covid19 pandemic, I’ve had plenty of reasons to be thankful to be living in Singapore. The most obvious of course is that besides the outbreak in the migrant worker dormitories, the community situation has remained controlled which allows us to move around relatively freely. The second of course is that given the lack of overseas travel, at least we still have a pretty nice place to live in.
But what makes Singapore really an amazing place to live in is the street food! I grew up eating not just Chinese food but absolutely loving Malay and Indian food as well. In fact, I remember one of my researcher friends telling me that years ago he tried to track the impact of food on ethnic risk for diabetes and discovered that it was a failed study because Singaporeans eat everything! You will not find a Chinese Singaporean who does not eat nasi lemak or roti prata, or a Malay Singaporean who does not have halal Chinese food options. Food in Singapore is an absolute melting pot of cultures and in this season I kind of feel that even though we can’t physically travel, we can go on adventures of the palate!
Recently I’ve been doing lots of fathead dough recipes – all kinds of savoury puffs and sausage rolls. It’s a big favourite of the kids and so I would make a new recipe once a week. But a couple of days ago I had a sudden craving for murtabak, which is a well loved street food in Malaysia and Singapore. It’s like a meat stuffed pastry that’s fried on a griddle. The 2 most common varieties are mutton murtabak and chicken murtabak, but I used minced beef here because it’s so much easier to get ground beef than lamb or mutton in a regular supermarket. What I really love about murtabak is also the egg in the filling (I’m a secret egg lover).
The dough in traditional murtabak is flour-based and is usually stretched out paper thin, then folded over the stuffing and pan fried on a well-oiled griddle. Fathead dough does hold together pretty well although I must admit that I had some leaks of the filling as some of the dough was rolled out too thin. The other trick about frying fathead dough is that the fire should be relatively low to make sure the dough is cooked fully.
My parents are always willing guinea pigs for my cooking experiments! And I am always amused at how they might have had their cereal breakfast but they didn’t mind tucking into murtabak immediately after. Anyway the feedback was good and they said that the murtabak flavour was “like the real thing”.
Low Carb Murtabak
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
- 2 tbsp cream cheese
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1 egg
- 2 medium red onions, finely sliced
- 250g ground beef
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1/2 inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely grated
- 1/3 cup chopped spring onions
- 1/3 cup coriander leaves
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp meat curry
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garam marsala
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3-4 tbsp ghee
- Microwave the mozarella and cream cheese for about 1.5 – 2 minutes. Stir in the almond flour and egg and mix well. Separate the dough into 4 balls and set aside.
- In a skillet, put 2 tbsp ghee and stir fry the onions over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another minute.
- Add the ground beef, breaking up the meat into small lumps. Add the spices (garam marsala, turmeric, chili powder, curry powder), salt and pepper and continue to cook till the beef is cooked through. Put the beef mixture into a bowl, then stir through the coriander and spring onions. Allow the meat to cool down slightly then stir in the eggs.
- Roll out the dough in between 2 sheets of baking paper into a roughly rectangular shape and as thinly as possible. Place 2 dessert spoons of the meat mixture at the center of the dough, then fold up the sides to form a square packet. Put aside on an oiled plate.
- Heat up 2 tbsp ghee in a non-stick skillet on low heat. Pan fry the dough packets (about 2 minutes a side), and try to sear the edges of the murtabak parcels. Make sure the murtabak is well-browned.
- Slice each murtabak piece into quarters and serve hot.