Kesra is a traditional Algerian bread made from semolina flour, olive oil, and nigella seeds, which is cooked on a hot plate resulting in a coarse & grainy texture. This bread has a nutty flavor due to semolina flour, and it is best to serve with soups, stews, or tagine and used as spreads (honey & jams).
In the Middle East and North African countries, flatbread is a popular staple food among locals, which holds great cultural significance. If you are familiar with Arab cuisines, each of them has their versions of flatbread which is almost similar. One flatbread that I enjoyed is the Algerian bread called Kesra.
What makes Kesra unique is that it is made from semolina flour which gives a nutty taste. Also, this bread can be eaten either cold or hot which is perfect to serve it together with hot tea or milk.
One thing to know is that using semolina flour- when making unleavened flatbread, is also used in other North African countries such as Morroco, Libya, or Tunisia. However, in this post, I will be sharing my version of the Algerian bread recipe—Kesra.
Difference between Kesra and Kuboos
Kesra and Kuboos / Khubz are both a type of flatbread that is traditionally a staple food in Arab countries. However, North African flatbread- including Algerian bread is different than Middle Eastern bread such as khubz. That is because they both have different cultures, which makes their food unique. You can use this bread to spread it with jams or serve it with stew or soup.
Kesra, along with Morocco, Tunisia, and other North African bread, is a type of unleavened flatbread made from semolina flour that has a crumbling exterior but is still soft on the inside. This bread is made on a hot plate or flat grilling which the dough is flattened into a round shape and cooked till it becomes light brown.
On the other hand, Kuboos / Khubz, are leavened flatbread since they can puff up and grow when cooking in a hot pan or baking in a hot oven. This type of soft & fluffy bread is found in Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, UAE, and other Gulf Arab countries. This bread is used to dip on hummus or baba ganoush, and for wrapping a shawarma or other grilled meats like kebabs.
In this post, we will focus more on the North African bread Kesra recipe, but I do have a separate recipe post for Kuboos / Khubz recipe.
Here are the ingredients you need to make this delicious Algerian bread Kesra recipe:
Semolina Flour: I am using this type of coarse flour made from durum wheat. It looks like sand which is used for pasta, desserts, or a type of bread like this recipe.
Olive oil: I am using extra virgin olive oil since it gives a stronger flavor. Also, it will add moisture to the dough and help create a tender crumb when mixing it.
Yeast- I am using instant yeast since this will help the bread rise but not as much as other bread like pita bread.
Nigella seeds- I love adding this type of black seeds since it adds a nutty flavor and makes the bread visually appealing.
Salt and Sugar: The salt and sugar will help balance the sweetness and saltiness of the bread. Also, I prefer to use brown sugar since it’s more organic than white sugar.
Water: You will need water since it hydrates the flour and forms gluten, forming a bread structure.
Step by Step Instruction
Here are the instructions on how to make Kesra recipe:
- In a large bowl, I combine semolina flour, salt, brown sugar, yeast, and olive oil. I stir them together using my hand till it forms a crumbling texture.
- Next, I add the nigella seeds and slowly add water till it forms a soft dough.
- After that, I use my hands to knead for several minutes until it forms a round ball shape. Divide into 2 and reshape into a ball again.
- Covered it with plastic, and place it back on the bowl. Leave it for 30 minutes.
- On each ball of dough, I use the rolling pin to form a circular shape about 6 inches in diameter.
- Now to cook this Algerian bread, I preheat the cooking pan and place the shaped kesra bread on it. Make sure you use the fork to gently prick the surface of the dough on all side to help cook the bread evenly.
- Cook it on both sides until it turns a light brown.
- Before serving, I use a knife to divide it into 4 or 6 pieces.
- Use it to serve with soups or stews, or spread it with your favorite honey/jams.
Tips and Hints
- Cook the kesra bread over medium to medium-high. If you set it at a high temperature, the bread will cause burn spots on the outside.
- The Kesra is best eaten and served warm.
- Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic
- Coarse semolina is preferably used for most North African bread.
- If the dough is dry, add more water if needed.
- Olive oil will make the dough soft and moist which will help cook the bread easier.
Kuboos- This is a Middle Eastern Flatbread called Pita bread which is made using plain or wheat flour, olive oil, salt, yeast, and water.
Greek Flatbread– This round flatbread is similar to Middle Eastern variation, but it is made using milk rather than water.
Roti- This is an Indian flatbread that is made using Atta or whole wheat flour, water, and butter, and it doesn’t use yeast.
Tortilla- This is a Mexican flatbread that is made using wheat flour or cornmeal flour.
Frequently Asked Questions
To reheat the bread, I heat it the microwave where I set it for 15 seconds in medium heat. In addition to that, you can also wrap it in foil and warm on a stove.
If your bread is too dry or crumbling, it might be you are not adding enough water during the kneading process. Add warm water to knead the bread.
Yes, you can freeze this bread to store it for a longer duration. Wrap it in aluminum foil and place it in the freezer-safe bag.
Yes, you can replace gluten flour with rice flour, corn flour, or chickpea flour.
To me, it will take at least 2-3 minutes on each side to cook Kesra bread until it develops a golden brown color.
???? Recipe Card
Kesra (Algerian Bread)
Kesra is an Algerian flatbread recipe that is made from semolina flour together with water, yeast, olive oil, and salt. It is best to serve with soups, stews, or tagine and used as spreads (honey & jams).
- 2 cups of coarse semolina flour
- 4 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- ¾ to 1 cup of warm water Pour gradually
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 teaspoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of yeast
- 1 tablespoon of nigella seeds
Combine semolina flour, salt, brown sugar, yeast, and olive oil in a large bowl. Use your hands to stir together till it forms a crumbling texture.
Add the nigella seeds and slowly pour water when mixing them. Knead the dough until it becomes soft.
Divide into 2 and form into a ball shape. Covered it with plastic, and place it back on the bowl. Leave it for 30 minutes.
On each of them, use the rolling pin to form a circular shape about 6 inches in diameter.
Preheat the cooking pan and place the shaped kesra bread on it. Use the fork to gently prick the surface of the dough on all sides to help cook the bread evenly.
Cook it on both sides until it turns a light brown. Use the knife to divide into 4 or 6 pieces
Serve with soups or stews, or spread it with your favorite honey/jams. Enjoy!
- Pour water gradually when mixing and kneading the dough.
- You can use sesame seeds if you don’t have nigella seeds.
- If the dough is dry, add more water if needed.
Serving: 4gCalories: 273kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 5.7gFat: 15.7gSaturated Fat: 2.2gSodium: 587mgPotassium: 73mgFiber: 2.6gSugar: 2.3gCalcium: 27mgIron: 2mg