The origins of murtabak are unclear. My weathered cookbook tells me its a Singaporean and Malaysian street food, brought to Southeast Asia by the Indian community. Wikipedia, on the other hand, says its a Yemeni and Saudi dish, but that it arrived in the Persian Gulf by way of Kerala. Can anyone shed light? Drop me a line.

This recipe for murtabak is adapted from an old Sanjeev Kapoor recipe and a Martin Yan one, and since I’ve never eaten murtabak from a hawker, I can’t attest to its authenticity. It’s a bit time-consuming to prepare, but its well worth the effort. These dough-encased pockets of oniony, spicy meat are a treat, albeit a rich one at that.



3 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups warm milk
7 tablespoons cooking oil
6 cloves garlic
4 slices ginger
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
3/4 pound ground turkey
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. To make dough, place flour and salt in a bowl. With your hands, rub butter into flour until particles are about the size of peas. Gradually add milk and 3 tablespoons cooking oil, mixing well. Knead until a smooth dough forms, about 10 minutes. Divide dough into 10 pieces. Roll each piece onto a ball, cover and let rest for 1 hour.

2. Place garlic, ginger, onion, water, and chili garlic sauce in a blender and process until smooth.

3. Place a wok over medium-low heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add spice paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 6 to 8 minutes.

4. Raise heat to medium-high. Add meat, curry powder, sugar, and soy sauce; cook until meat is browned and crumbly, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in egg.

5. To make each piece of bread, roll a ball of dough into a circle 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Spread 2 tablespoons filling in center of circle, leaving 2 inches of dough around edge. Fold top and bottom edges over filling, overlapping in center b 1/2 inch; repeat with left and right edges. Brush top with melted butter.

4. Place a frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, swirling to coat sides. Pan-fry bread, a few pieces at a time, until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Repeat for remaining pieces.

6 thoughts on “Murtabak”

  1. it’s like a beef patty. i think it’s interesting that you find a variation of this pretty much everywhere the climate is warm.

    samosas- sambusas, empanadas, beef patties…

  2. Hey Drea! Yep, and in Iran they’re sambuseh.

    The best beef patty I ever had was in Jamaica. Nothing in the Bay Area even begins to compare.

  3. as Drea pointed out above, this reminds me of a samosa, too! mmm, need to make this soon. thankyou for the recipe, Mariam! =) i like that this version has soy sauce, not found in a traditional South Asian samosa.

  4. Yasmine! Yes, let me know how it turns out if you make it. 🙂 (And yes, I wondered about the soy sauce addition too! It was part of the original Martin Yan recipe, and I wonder if it’s used perhaps in Malaysian and Singaporean renditions.)

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