Thursday, 6 January 2011

Kessra كسرة 'Algerian flat semolina bread'

The word Kesra in Arabic means a fragment or a piece of something. In Algeria (and Sudan), it refers to a kind of everyday flat bread. Other kinds of bread are called Khoubz. Although homemade bread is confined to rural areas in most Arab countries, Kesra is still made on a regular basis in most Algerian homes. For this purpose, all households are equipped with a tabouna (a kind of small gas cooker), a tagine (flat clay griddle) and a tawa (metallic griddle).

The tagine is also called ‘el-farrah’ in parts of Algeria meaning the ‘one who brings happiness’ especially to kids waiting for the first bread to be ready.

My mum used to say, if you have semolina and a tagine, your family will never go hungry. Algerian love this bread, I have a sister who will hide fresh baguettes in the freezer to make sure we get Kesra with our dinner.

The recipe I am giving you today uses semolina, a bit of oil and yeast. It produces a bread with a soft kind of crumbly texture. It is quick and easy to make. It goes with most of savoury or sweet accompaniments. There are another two kinds of Algerian flat breads;

·         Rakhssess رخساس: thin, dense and crumbly: no yeast but more oil.
·         Matlou’ or  Khmira مطلوع، خميرة: thick, soft and chewy: no oil more yeast.

I will give recipes another day

Ingredients: makes 4 medium flat breads

5 mugs fine semolina
½ mug vegetable oil (or olive oil)
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp dry yeast
Warm water (about 2 mugs)
Optional: Black sesame seeds (also known as Nigella or black cumin)

  1. In a big mixing bowl, mix all the ingredients except water
2.      Slowly add water to make a soft but firm dough
3.      Knead for 10 minutes until you reach a smooth consistency
4.      leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes (sometimes I don’t and it is still OK)
5.      Divide the dough into 4 equal balls
6.      Heat a heavy frying pan (I get best results with a pancake pan)
7.      Roll the balls into disks with ½  to 1 cm thickness
8.      Prick the surface with a fork and dry cook both sides on medium heat until surface is golden brown
9.      To add flavour and texture, you can add 1 tbsp of black sesame seeds to a piece of dough, knead again to spread seeds evenly before rolling and cooking
10.  Cut into pizza wedges style and enjoy warm or cold




  1. what is the volume of a mug. a new Algerian friend told me of several foods and would like to try them, but not knowing the volume of a mug would be difficult to do try and error.

  2. This is how Algerians cook, ever their cookbooks refer to "a measure", leaving me wondering what "a measure" is. It does not matter as long as your cup is the same on for both the oil , water and semolina. My husband is Algerian and I used to be afraid to make this bread, but it is very easy and through trial and error you will get it right. The dough should bounce back slightly when pinched.