Ruth Oliver's Jachnun. Photo: Ilan Nachum. Styling: Dalit Russo.
Ruth Oliver's Jachnun. Photo: Ilan Nachum. Styling: Dalit Russo.
Recipe

Yemenite Jachnun – Traditional and Easy

Many Yemenite's admit that they no longer make homemade jachnun, which is sad, since the recipe is simple and puts the store bought to shame

Jachnun is a labor intensive dish, but the recipe is fairly simple, and the results put any commercially available product to shame. When initially rolling and folding the jachnun, you can use a rolling pin, but ultimately you’ll need to roll up those sleeves and use your hands to stretch and grease the dough. Of course in Yemen, they didn’t use margarine, which only entered into the recipe during the years of austerity and never left. In Yemen, they use semneh – a clarified preserved butter. It’s worth it to try and achieve the original taste and use ghee (the Indian version of semneh) which is available in markets, or make semneh at home.

Before you start, get yourself a special Jachnun pot with a diameter of 8.5″-9.5″ (22-24 cm).

Ingredients for Jachnun

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kilogram) flour
  • 4 tablespoons (50 grams) Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons (500 ml) water
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 14 oz (400 grams) margarine melted, or clarified butter (semneh or ghee)

To serve:

  • 1 tomato grated
  • zhug to taste
  • 1 egg hard boiled (optional)

Instructions

  • 1. Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment and mix for 3-4 minutes until the dough is pliable and smooth. Cover and let rise for about two hours at room temperature.

  • 2. Divide the dough into 16 balls around 3 oz (90 grams) each and the size of a tennis ball.

  • 3. Generously grease your work surface or a baking sheet and roll the dough balls so they are well and evenly coated. Spread the balls out, cover, and leave for another two hours.

  • 4. Heat the oven to 250F (120C) degrees.

  • 5. Roll out each ball with a rolling pin, then continue to stretch and flatten until you have a circle of dough that is as thin as possible. Coat your hand in the melted margarine/butter and carefully grease each round of dough (you'll need about 1-1½ tablespoons per round).

  • 6. Fold the right side of the dough to the center and then the left side so that you have a rectangle, and then roll horizontally into a log. Place the prepared rolls in a pot, arranging the layers in a criss cross pattern.

  • 7. Bake overnight (at least 12 hours) and serve hot with zhug, grated tomato, and a hard boiled egg (optional).

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