Tafernout: Dented Moroccan Flatbread
In the villages right outside of Marrakesh in every direction that takes to the Berber mountains, you’ll find a fantastic bread called tafernout. It is a flat bread made from leavened or unleavened dough baked in a clay oven on a bed of pebbles or medium stones. I have never seen any flat bread like it.
When I lived in Morocco, tafernout was unheard of in cities or anywhere close by; it was reserved to remote villages where it had been secludedly baked for generations. Its popularity has crept up over the years that it is now available as soon as you drive a kilometer or two away from the city at rural joints and roadside restaurants everywhere in the South.
We all know you can bake marvelous flat bread without stones. While they don’t do much to the taste of the bread they do concentrate the heat and distribute it evenly which yields a beautiful texture to the bread and allows for browning throughout, in places where the bread normally stays dull and white.
The result is a bread with dents all over, a toasty aroma, and crispy edges. The bread comes out to your table straight from the oven, often with a burning-hot pebble still stuck inside one of the dimples. Better be careful.
On the road from Agadir back to Marrakesh we stopped at one of the roadside cafes that serves tagines and grilled meats. The smoke from the meats grilling on charcoal smelled so inviting. It was lunch time and we couldn’t resist. As soon as we sat down we ordered tafernout. By the time it was baked the rest of our lunch was at the table too. We enjoyed tafernout with succulent grilled kefta and merguez followed by fall-off-the-bone goat meat tagine. All tasted fabulous.
Hmm, perhaps you and I should try making tafernout at home. I think simply preheating a baking sheet lined with pebbles in the oven will do the trick. It should be a fun experiment. What do you think?