Somalian Canjeero (Lahoh) Flatbreads

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If you fancy a flatbread with a difference, try making a traditional Somalian Canjeera (Lahoh). Made with three different flours, Lahoh is a four-step process: making a starter, making and proving the dough, preparing sharaba (tangzhong) and finally cooking! Canjeera flatbread can be eaten both with savoury dishes and as a pancake topped with butter or honey.

What is Canjeero (Lahoh) Flatbread?

Canjeero a pancake-like flatbread that originates in Somalia, but is also very popular in Yemen, where it is called Lahoh, and also eaten by Yemenite Jews in Israel. Traditionally made with Sorghum flour, it can also be replicated with a mixture of whole wheat, plain white flour and cornmeal. Typically made in a circular pan, these flatbreads are a great sidekick to stews, lentil dishes and soups. Similarly, in Yemen, it is typically paired with a spicy and herby Zhoug. However, this East African staple can be eaten as a filling breakfast with butter, honey or golden syrup. Make your flatbreads thicker and cut little circles of it with a small cookie cutter, and you can use Canjeera (Lahoh) as a base for canapes or mini open sandwiches for African-inspired afternoon tea.

Made with cornmeal (or fine polenta), Canjeero (Lahoh) has an exciting texture and flavour. It is somewhere in between Naan, cornbread and a pancake. Made with fermented dough starter, and then briefly proved, this flatbread puffs up in the pan and the yeast creates little bubbles of air that rise to the top when cooking. It looks almost like a large flat crumpet!

How to Make Canjeera (Lahoh) using Sourdough Starter?

The recipe below shows how to make the Canjeera (Lahoh) flatbreads from scratch, but if you keep a Sourdough Starter, use it!

24-48 hours before you want to make your flatbreads, feed 40g of your 100% hydration starter with 20g of wholewheat flour and 30ml of water and leave at room temperature (covered but not sealed) until you’re ready to make the dough. Then proceed as per the recipe below.

Step-by-Step Recipe for Somalian Canjeera (Lahoh) Flatbreads:

To Make the Starter:

Three days before you plan to make the Canjeera (Lahoh) flatbreads, make the starter. Place the plain flour, whole wheat flour, yeast and water in a bowl and mix well to ensure there are no lumps in the batter. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for 3 days. By the end of the fermenting process, the mixture will smell slightly sour and may have brown liquid separated on top of the mixture.

To Make the Dough:

Mix the fermented starter, fine polenta, plain flour, salt and yeast. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Depending on the type of polenta (cornmeal) you are using, you may need to add another splash of water if your dough is too firm. Cover the kneaded dough and leave to prove for 1 hour.

To Make Tangzhong (Sharaba):

Whilst the dough proves, make the sharaba. Add flour to a small saucepan. Turn the heat on low-medium and gradually add water stirring continuously to prevent lumps (like you would when making a roux).

Keep cooking the flour until you arrive at a smooth paste (thick cream consistency). Take off the heat and let it cool down slightly.

Knead the tangzhong into the dough. Then add 100 ml of warm water and beat until you arrive at a thin crepe-like batter.

Cover it with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes. You will know it is ready when lots of small bubbles appear on the surface. Don’t mix it again from then on.

Cooking Canjeera (Lahoh):

Heat a round baking stone, small cast iron skillet or a heavy-based frying pan on medium heat. Brush lightly with some odourless oil

Add a large ladle to the pan and swirl the batter in a circular motion to cover the surface. Cook until the batter is dry on the top and you can see lots of tiny holes. There’s no need to flip it. Canjeera is cooked on one side only.

Repeat with the rest of the batter. Enjoy Canjeera (Lahoh) with savoury dishes or as a pancake with some butter and honey!


Have a look at our other bread recipes, that are perfect served with stews, soups and chillis:

lahoh

Somalian Canjeero (Lahoh) Flatbreads

If you fancy a flatbread with a difference, try making a traditional Somalian Canjeera (Lahoh). Made with three different flours, Lahoh is a four-step process: making a starter, making and proving the dough, preparing sharaba (tangzhong) and finally cooking! Canjeera flatbread can be eaten both with savoury dishes and as a pancake topped with butter or honey.
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Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Fermenting & Proving: 3 d 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 3 d 2 hrs 15 mins
Course Bread, Breakfast, Side Dish
Cuisine Somalian, Yemeni
Servings 4 flatbreads
Calories 195 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the Starter (or use sourdough – details in text above):

  • 50 ml water
  • 20 g plain flour
  • 20 g whole wheat flour
  • ¼ tsp yeast dried, active or instant

For Canjeera (Lahoh) Dough:

  • 85 g fine polenta (cornmeal)
  • 60 g plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp instant yeast

For Tangzhong (Sharaba):

  • 15 g white flour
  • 100 ml warm water

Instructions
 

To Make the Starter:

  • Three days before you plan to make the Canjeera (Lahoh) flatbreads, make the starter. Place plain flour, whole wheat flour, yeast and water in a bowl and mix well to ensure there are no lumps in the batter. Loosely cover and leave at room temperature for 3 days. By the end of the fermenting process, the mixture will smell slightly sour and may have brown liquid separated on top of the mixture.

To Make the Dough:

  • Mix the fermented starter, polenta, plain flour, salt and yeast. Knead for 8-10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. Depending on the type of polenta (cornmeal) you are using, you may need to add another splash of water if your dough is too firm. Cover the kneaded dough and leave to prove for 1 hour.

To Make Tangzhong (Sharaba):

  • Whilst the dough proves, make the sharaba. Add flour to a small saucepan. Turn the heat on low-medium and gradually add water stirring continuously to prevent lumps (like you would when making a roux).
  • Keep cooking the flour until you arrive at a smooth paste (thick cream consistency). Take off the heat and let it cool down slightly.
  • Knead the tangzhong into the dough. Then add 100 ml of warm water and beat until you arrive at a thin crepe-like batter.
  • Cover it with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes. You will know it is ready when lots of small bubbles appear on the surface. Don't mix it again from then on.

Cooking Canjeera (Lahoh):

  • Heat a small round baking stone, cast iron skillet or a heavy based frying pan on medium heat. Brush lighly with some odourless oil.
  • Add a large ladle to the pan and swirl the batter in a circular motion to cover the surface. Cook until the batter is dry on the top and you can see lots of tiny holes. There's no need to flip it. Canjeera is cooked on one side only.
  • Repeat with the rest of the batter. Enjoy Canjeera (Lahoh) with savoury dishes or as a pancake with some butter and honey!

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcalCarbohydrates: 38gProtein: 6gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 296mgPotassium: 141mgFiber: 4gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 2mg
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