Malawach (Yemenite Jewish Pancakes)

July 23, 2017

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Malawach (or Malawah) is a Yemeni Jewish flatbread typically eaten for breakfast; enjoy it savory with zhug, grated tomato, and hard boiled eggs; or make it sweet with honey drizzled across the top.

The dough is time consuming to prep, but make this recipe or double it, and store them in the freezer-- the pancakes can go straight from the freezer to the grill pan and be ready within 3 minutes.

A friend from Tel Aviv recently told me that when she first came to the states, scallion pancakes from Chinese restaurants were her favorite because they reminded her of malawach back home! Whether you like malawach, scallion pancakes, or paratha, this is a great flaky flatbread recipe to have on hand; the buttery, pull-apart texture is something I quickly became obsessed with. Enjoy them for breakfast the traditional Yemeni Jewish way (I love mine topped with poached eggs). Modify this malawach recipe with your favorite spices and fillings for a modern spin.
Lyna Vuong

Makes: 8 (8-inch) pancakes


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
In This Recipe


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, and salt.
  2. Slowly pour in the warm water, and use your hand to stir and mix the dough until it fully pulls away from the bowl. If the dough is not completely combined, stir in 1/2 tablespoon of water at a time, mixing until the dough comes together.
  3. Transfer the dough to a clean countertop and knead until it is smooth and elastic, roughly 5 minutes. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover the dough and with a knife or pastry scraper, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces; keep the dough covered with plastic wrap while you flatten each ball out.
  5. Prepare a sheet tray by lining it with parchment paper and set it aside. On a clean countertop, rub 1 tablespoon of butter across the worksurface. Place one piece of dough at a time on the buttered countertop and use a rolling pin to shape the dough into roughly an 8-inch circle (you should not need to use flour to roll the dough).
  6. Take 1 tablespoon of butter and use your fingers to dollop pieces of it across the surface of the dough; starting from the center, with both hands use your fingers to press and slide them across the dough, stretching it outwards, creating a large 12 x 14-inch rectangle. The dough should be thin enough to see through to the countertop, it's okay if a few tears occur.
  7. If creating a filling variation (see below for suggestions), sprinkle 2 tablespoon across the surface of the buttered dough now.
  8. Starting from the widest edge of the rectangle, fold over the dough in 1-inch increments until a long rope is created. Coil the rope into a pinwheel and place on the prepared sheet tray. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap previously used, and roll the remaining pieces of dough. Cover the sheet tray with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough overnight, or until thoroughly chilled.
  9. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Use a rolling pin to flatten the pinwheels into 8 1/2-inch circles. Stack the flattened dough in between pieces of parchment paper, and place inside a freezer storage bag. Freeze the dough for a minimum of 45 minutes, and store up to 1 month.
  10. To cook, lightly butter a large non-stick or cast iron pan and place over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a frozen piece of flattened dough to the pan and turn the stove to medium. (The pan should not be smoking.) Cook the dough 1 to 2 minutes per side until it is golden brown. The malawach is best enjoyed fresh off the pan; if you plan to serve all the flatbread, place them in an oven at 200 degrees to keep warm until ready to serve.
  11. Filling variations: nigella seeds; everything spice; sauteed greens (could be leftovers, like chard, kale, or spinach); fresh chopped herbs like oregano, rosemary, or thyme; sauteed garlic or shallots; sliced scallions; sharp, hard cheese of your choice, crumbled or shredded

More Great Recipes:
Bread|Pancake|Middle Eastern|Make Ahead|Grill/Barbecue|Cast Iron|Serves a Crowd|5 Ingredients or Fewer|Vegetarian|Brunch

Reviews (17) Questions (0)

17 Reviews

Meg July 29, 2018
Paranthas are not made with eggs. The only ingredients for a basic Parantha are oil, water, and whole wheat flour
Gina E. August 14, 2017
These are easy and unusual and delicious! I make breads/flatbreads/naan, etc. a lot but these caught my eye. I filled them each differently; with nigella seeds, scallions, toasted sesame seeds/dried onions, and cheese. Loved them all! The nigella seeds malawach paired well with a chicken curry dish. Great for dipping but also tastes amazing eaten alone. You can't stop at one, lol.
Author Comment
Lyna V. August 14, 2017
Hi Gina, thrilled that you were able to make them and experiment with all the different fillings, sounds delicious with the curry dish. Thanks for sharing!
Arrxx August 3, 2017
Sounds delicious. I think a video would be really useful.
Gina E. August 14, 2017
I ate them all up, so I'll make them again and video the process. Not sure I can post a video here, but if not I'll post a link to YouTube. They come together quite easily, though I swapped out the pastry flour for whole wheat and so they needed a bit more water. Heartier and healthier.
Susan W. August 3, 2017
Any recommendations for a substitute of the butter if you are lactose intolerant....really intolerant? Can olive oil be substituted and, if so, how much?
Author Comment
Lyna V. August 3, 2017
Hi Susan! my initial hunch would be to try coconut oil or shortening, although I haven't tried this personally. Perhaps you could post to our site's hotline and see what the Food52 community has experimented with? Let us know how it goes!
Susan W. August 3, 2017
Thanks so much. I will try this weekend and will let you know how I fare.
Juliebell August 3, 2017
Hi Susan. Can you tolerate ghee?
Ally August 2, 2017
In Israel — at the fantastic malawach place in Tzfat — they served them filled with mozzarella, zaatar, slices of tomato, and zhug. Glad I can make these at home too!
Author Comment
Lyna V. August 14, 2017
That sounds delicious- filled with mozzarella! I'll have to try that sometime, thanks for sharing Ally!
scott.finkelstein.5 July 31, 2017
"Modify this malawach recipe with your favorite spices and fillings for a modern spin."
Unfortunate implications with that use of "modern." Do you perhaps mean "postmodernist?"
susan July 27, 2017
Did I miss it, or did you mention whether it should be a non-stick pan?
Author Comment
Lyna V. July 27, 2017
Thanks for clarifying, I will update this! A non-stick or cast iron pan is ideal.
Gina E. August 14, 2017
I used my copper/stainless frying pan (not non-stick though it's heavy and high-quality) and with a tiny bit of melted butter they didn't stick at all. Don't think you'd need a non-stick pan.
KDH9966 July 27, 2017
do they have to be frozen, can it just be chilled before cooking?
Author Comment
Lyna V. July 27, 2017
I recommend freezing the dough so that it firms up the butter in the dough, this helps make the bread flakier once it's grilled! (Similar technique as a pastry dough.)