Malawah Bread is one of the many kinds of bread eaten in Yemen. What makes it unique is that it is layered and folded with butter or ghee inside which makes it very tasty. You will most likely find this bread in the many restaurants in Sanaa, Aden, Hodeidah or other parts of the country. I have never seen it done in the home but perhaps somewhere they do make it at home. It also usually comes very large in a single or malawah double serving and then is folded on the table to keep it from cooling down and getting too crispy.So this is my recipe for Malawah which looks a bit different from the restaurant one because it is smaller and I didnt cook it on in the Tanur, but I was actually surprised at how much it does taste almost exactly like the restaurant one! Some tips: The bread tends to get extra crispy in some spots and then stay chewy in the other spots, this is a result of the thickness of the dough. So it you like it chewy then keep it on the thick side.
1. Mix together the flour, water, and salt and knead it until smooth, about 15 minutes. You may need to adjust the flour/water ratio slightly depending on the absorption of the flour and also the climate where you live. You want a dough which is perfectly smooth and soft, and doesn't stick too much to the table/and your hands. See the dough in the video to get a better feel for that.
2. Form the dough into 2 equal balls and cover with a bit of butter and let it relax for at least 20 minutes.
3. Being tossing out each dough ball into a very thin sheet, preferably in the shape of a rectangle. You can do this any way you feel comfortable, such as pressing it on the table, tossing it between your hands, or using a rolling pin. I find it easy to being by pressing the dough into the table and then tossing it out with my hands when it gets larger. The rolling pin is difficult for me because it always wants to stretch back into a small shape.
4. One the dough is stretched out, brush both sides with melted butter. Fold the dough into a rope-like shape--see the video. Then tie the rope into a knot, and then once again, and tuck in any loose ends. You should have the shape of a rough ball with some air pockets. Cover and let it relax for another 20 minutes. At this point, preheat the oven/baking stone to 500 F
5. Begin to toss out the dough once again, just like before. Stop when you have a good size and thickness for bread. The thinner parts will be crispy and the thicker parts will be chewy. Mine was around 12-15 inches but I was limited by the size of my pizza stone. Place cornmeal on the pizza peel and then place the bread on it and ensure that it moves when you shake it. Your baking stone needs to have been preheating for 30 minutes before you cook the bread. You could also use a Saj or Tannur oven if you prefer.
6. Cook the bread for 4-5 mins, or until it is brown on top. Remove and serve immediately.