Zayane’s Ramadan Recipe for Onion and Herb Msemen

Ramadan is for eating utterly delicious food. At least that’s my view – and one shared by many Moroccans. Of course, many of us fast, but to concentrate only on this important aspect of Ramadan would be to ignore all that goes on after sunset and prayers, including the zealous consumption of Moroccan cuisine’s best dishes, socialising and fun with family and friends!

In this blog post, Joe and I would like to share with you one of our favourite Moroccan Ramadan staples, msemen,

and to give you a recipe that you can make at home to try it for yourself. If you celebrate Ramadan in any capacity, cooking msemen will kick your iftar up several notches – if you don’t celebrate Ramadan, my exquisite recipe will give you some keen insight into this most holy month for Muslims… insight of the most delicious variety!

Zayane’s Ramadan Recipe for Onion and Herb Msemen

Msemen isn’t the kind of dish one typically finds at a restaurant, so unless you are Moroccan or if you ever celebrated iftar with a Moroccan family, it’s probably new to you. Msemen is a tasty flat bread that we dip in butter and honey, often after prayers during Ramadan, as a luxurious way to recalibrate our blood sugar and palates after a day of fasting. The plain msemen is the most common variety that is enjoyed throughout Morocco, but it is a bread that comes in many variations. Much in the same spirit as pizza – or a calzone, as it were – msemen can be filled with virtually anything to add another dimension or two. Two of my favourites are spiced minced lamb or merguez sausages. Pretty much if there’s a cheese, meat, vegetable or combination thereof that you fancy, you can stuff it in your msemen and it will be delicious.

The recipe I am sharing with you here is my personal one for msemen filled with onions and herbs. Not only is it suitable for vegan and vegetarians… it is taste fantastic! My onion and herb msemen will raise your Ramadan up another scrumptious level – and if you don’t celebrate, it is lovely to eat on its own or as an accompaniment to your favourite tagine!


To try a Moroccan classic that isn’t widely available outside of Morocco and the homes of Moroccans, cook my amazing msemen recipe.

But if you want to dip your toe in the proverbial water before doing so, join us at Zayane during Ramadan to try our special iftar menu, where you can enjoy our personal take on some of Morocco’s most spectacular dishes including msemen. To get the full story about our Ramadan menu, click hereto check out our blog, ‘Ramadan is Abundance, Not Lack’.


If you have any questions about this recipe or if you’d like to share with me what you think of my msemen recipe, please get in touch on Instagramor Twitter! And if you have any special requests for future recipes, Ramadan or otherwise, just let me know!


As ever – Ramadan Mubarak!


Zayane’s Ramadan Recipe for Onion and Herb Msemen


Zayane’s Recipe for Onion and Herb Msemen


  • Bread dough
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1 bunch of parsley and coriander, finally chopped
  • 2 red chillis, finely chopped
  • 1tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper



  1. Sweat the onions in a small drizzle of olive oil until translucent.
  2. Add chilli, herbs and spices. Cook for 5 minutes. Once done, let cool.
  3. Cut the dough into small balls
  4. Oil your working surface and spread the dough until it is so thin it is nearly translucent.
  5. Put 1 tbsp of the onion mix in the middle of the dough and spread it into a square.
  6. Fold the dough over the onion mix by bringing two opposite sides first to cover the onions then the other sides to cover the first fold making an envelope.
  7. Oil your first msemen and repeat the same process with the rest of the dough.
  8. Pan fry but do not use too much oil – just enough so the msemen doesn’t stick to the pan.
  9. Serve hot.



Recipe: Zayane’s Harira – I Can’t Believe It’s Vegan!

‘You went vegan, why would you do that to yourself?’ I heard a robust, bearded man say at a social event I recently attended. The context was clear – a friend of mine confessed to the crowd that she had recently decided to go from vegetarian to full vegan, and this rather abrasive gentleman couldn’t help but view her lifestyle choice as some for of punishment or self-flagellation. In hearing the exchange it reminded me that the more dogmatic carnivores out there tend to view vegan and even vegetarian food as insipid, bland or even downright disgusting.

I should come out and be honest – I, Meryem Mortell – founder and Head Chef at Zayane, am neither a vegan nor a vegetarian. However, what I find bizarre is the brazen ignorance when it comes to the utter deliciousness of vegan cuisine.

Moroccan food has plenty of examples of dishes that have been vegan and vegetarian way before it was ‘trendy’ – in fact they are traditionally made as 100% plant-based dishes simple because that is how they are often most delicious.

In my humble view, the most stunning example of Moroccan cuisine’s potential for vegan goodness is Morocco’s most famous soup – Harira.


Harira is made – and savoured – throughout Morocco.

It can be made vegan or vegetarian – in some cases it is made with pieces of meat in it. At Zayane we make it 100% vegan both because that is how I personally think it taste best and most authentic, but also to include all dietary requirements in it’s utter deliciousness. Our version is essentially a spiced tomato soup rich with herbs and pulses – it isn’t gluten free as it contains both flour and vermicelli (however, we are able to make it gluten free – please just let us know 24 hours before you dine with Zayane!). I personally make every fragrant and warming batch of harira at Zayane. I once entrusted this important task to my son and co-Head Chef Joe, and suffice it to say that despite him being an amazing Moroccan chef, it didn’t turn out quite the way I like it… I suppose one has to literally be from Morocco to make it taste perfectly authentic (sorry Joe!). Whether or not my version taste as authentic and delicious as I think it does, all I can say is that most of our Moroccan customers have confessed that it reminds them of their mum’s harira back home, which is rather flattering!


Like most of my Moroccan culinary repertoire, my ability to cook amazing harira came through my mother’s tutelage.

Her version – which included egg and small tender chunks of lamb – was (and remains) exquisite and the talk of the town throughout the year, but in particular during Ramadan. During this holy period in Morocco, harira soup is enjoyed daily as it is packed full of vitamins and minerals and helps revive and re-energise us after the day of fasting. During Ramadan the tempting fragrance of harira playfully wafts through the air as you pass by each house where it is being prepared for iftar, or when we break our fast after sundown. At Zayane we are proud to announce that Sky TV recently filmed a special about how I make my harira soup – it will be showing next month just before the start of Ramadan.


So after all this talk of harira, you probably want to enjoy a piping hot bowl, yourself.

The easy solution is to find your way to Zayane in Notting Hill where I can personally serve you some. Or… you can make it yourself at home with Zayane’s own recipe! To be perfectly honest, as Joe experienced, making harira isn’t the easiest dish to make for a novice as the quantity of concasse tomatoes, herbs, spices and flour have to be right for it to come out perfect.  But don’t worry – I’ve made the following recipe with these difficulties in mind to make your cooking efforts a bit easier!


Enjoy and please don’t forget to tell us what you think of our recipe on social media!

Zayane's Harira Recipe

Recipe for Zayane’s Harira


  • 1 celery chopped finely
  • 1 bowl of chopped parsley
  • 1 bowl of chopped coriander
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 kg of tomatoes skinned, de-seeded and chopped or 1 bottle of passata.
  • 2tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 cup of brown lentils
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 2 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 2 vegetarian stock cubes
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp aged butter (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vermicelli
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil



  1. Put celery, herbs, lentils, onion, tomato purée and spices in a large heavy pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Cover with water to 3/4 of the pan. Cook until lentils are cooked about 40 minutes. Add tomatoes and stock cubes. Cook for 15 minutes. Add vermicelli and chickpeas. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Prepare flour mix. Put flour in a large bowl add 2 cups of cold water, mix into a paste with no lumps. Add water if too thick. It has to be the consistency of French pancakes.
  4. Add to the soup while stirring constantly. Cook for another 20 min. Add the aged butter if desired. Enjoy!


Innovating Tradition with Tradition– Zayane’s Bakoula Briwats

At Zayane my son Joe and I have a dish that isn’t just a culinary innovation, it
challenges the innovation process. On the one hand it goes far beyond merely
reinvigorating an originally Moroccan concept with European ingredients that
are passed through the prism of modern preparation and presentation. On the
other hand, one might argue that our tasty dish is forged in a far more humble
hue of originality and creativity.

It is a dish comprised of two measures of
traditional Moroccan cookery, and a modest measure of imagination.

Our dish
goes by the double-barrel Bakoula Briwats: two words that will be instantly
recognisable to Moroccan culinary savants, which often belong together in the
same Moroccan meal or even on the same dinner table. But it is only at Zayane
where these staples of Moroccan cuisine are fused together into one delectable

The first element is bakoula – a dish that is adored throughout Morocco.

It is awarm salad made from mallow, preserved lemons, olives, garlic, herbs and – for
those who like a spicy kick – roasted or fresh chilli. This tasty and healthy dish is
eaten with Moroccan semolina bread. When in season, mallow is Morocco’s
favourite leafy green, which we buy in bunches in the souks, or harvest wherever
the delicious edible weed grows. As mallow is hard to come by in Britain, our
bakoula at Zayane incorporates a mixture of kale and spinach that gives this
salad a remarkably similar taste and texture to the original version. It can be
enjoyed as a light and healthy snack, starter or side dish.

The second character in this gastronomic marriage is a briwat, a stuffed
triangular parcel made from Moroccan warka filo pastry that can be savoury or

The most commonly enjoyed briwats are the sweet variety made with an
irresistible almond filling. Back home we eat almond briwats with Moroccan
mint tea as an afternoon ‘pick-me- up’ or as a special dessert. At Zayane, Joe and I
offer hungry guests a delectable range of savoury briwats, including duck, king
prawn and Camembert, as well as our tempting hazelnut, cheesecake and
chocolate briwats for dessert.

So how do Joe and I combine these two authentic dishes that have long been
enjoyed on their own, without being infused into one another?

Why would we
risk upsetting the culinary equilibrium – and offending Moroccan foodie
traditionalists – by doing so? At Zayane we are always exploring new flavours
and combinations and are particularly excited when our experiments result in
food that is as delicious as it is healthy. The first time we placed a generous
spoonful of bakoula salad into a triangle of warka pastry, the resulting briwats
were a burst of scrumptious vegetarian goodness. We threw tradition to the
wind and innovated with our eyes and imaginations firmly fixed on some of
Moroccan cuisine’s most humble dishes.
We’d like to welcome you to Zayane to try our spectacular Kale and Spinach
Briwats (Bakoula Briwats) – but if you prefer to try this Zayane innovation in
your own kitchen, click here for the recipe!

Recipe for Kale and Spinach Briwats

 1 kg kale (chop if large and discard large stalks)
 1 kg spinach
 2 preserved lemons (large), skin only, finely chopped
 1 handful kalamata olives, chopped
 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
 1 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
 5 cloves of garlic finely sliced
 ½ cup olive oil
 1 tbsp sweet paprika
 1 tbsp cumin
 2 tbsp lemon juice
 1 tbsp harissa sauce (optional)
 spring roll pastry
 1 beaten egg
1. Heat olive oil in a large deep pan, add spices.
2. Let them sizzle for 2 min then add garlic. Cook garlic but do not let it
3. Add all other ingredients but the spinach.
4. Stir with a wooden spoon until kale is cooked.
5. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
6. Put in colander to cool down and also get rid of excess liquids.
7. Take one spring roll sheet and cover the rest with a damp cloth. Cut into
three rectangles. Use one at the time and cover the other two as they dry
8. Put one tbsp of the kale and spinach mixture in one corner of the pastry
and fold the pastry over it (to make a triangle) keep rolling and tucking
and then glue the end with the egg wash. You will end up with a samosa
shape. You could also shape it as a spring roll.
9. Deep fry until golden brown or bake in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 5-
10 minutes.