Know that mujabbana isn't prepared with only one cheese, but of two; that is, of cow's and sheep's milk cheese. Because if you make it with only sheep cheese, it falls apart and the cheese leaves it and it runs. And if you make it with cow's cheese, it binds, and lets the water run and becomes one sole mass and the parts don't separate. The principle in making it is that the two cheeses bind together. Use one-fourth part cow's milk and three-quarters of sheep's. Knead all until [p. 64, recto] some binds with its parts another [Huici Miranda observes that this passage is faintly written and only a few letters can be made out] and becomes equal and holds together and doesn't run in the frying pan, but without hardening or congealing. If you need to soften it, soften it with fresh milk, recently milked from the cow. And let the cheese not be very fresh, but strong without...[words missing]...that the moisture has gone out of. Thus do the people of our land make it in the west of al-Andalus, as in Cordoba and Seville and Jerez, and elsewhere in the the land of the West [here written as al-Maghrib].
Manner of Making it
Knead wheat or semolina flour with some yeast into a well-made dough and moisten it with water little by little until it loosens. If you moisten it with fresh milk instead of water it is better, and easy, inasmuch as you make it with your palm. Roll it out and let it not have the consistency of mushahhada, but firmer than that, and lighter than musammana dough. When the leaven begins to enter it, put the frying pan on the fire with a lot of oil, so that it is drenched with what you fry it with. Then wet your hand in water and cut off a piece of the dough. Bury inside it the same amount of rubbed cheese. Squeeze it with your hand, and whatever leaves and drains from the hand, gather it up [? the meaning of this verb eludes me] carefully. Put it in the frying pan while the oil boils. When it has browned, remove it with an iron hook prepared for it and put it in a dipper ["iron hand"] similar to a sieve held above the frying pan, until its oil drips out. Then put it on a big platter and dust it with a lot of sugar and ground cinnamon. There are those who eat it with honey or rose syrup and it is the best you can eat. (Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook, translated by Charles Perry)
- 1 Tbsp dried yeast
- 1 tsp malt syrup (or sugar)
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 3 cups milk, lukewarm
- up to 10 cups flour
- 400g mild feta or similar cheese, cut into chunks
- 150g mild cow's milk cheese (edam, young provolone, asiago-- even colby will do in a pinch), *grated or finely chopped
- oil for frying
Combine the water, malt, and yeast and let stand ten minutes or substitute sourdough starter. Combine the leavening with the warm milk and work in enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead until smooth and very springy, ~250-300 strokes. Put the dough in a clean, oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.
Mash the feta in a bowl and mix in the other cheese. It should all cling together, but if it seems a bit dry and crumbly, you can add a drop or two of milk.
Punch down the dough and knead a few strokes. To form the mujabbana, break off a bit of dough about the size of a ping-pong ball. Make a hollow in it with your thumb and put in a spoonful of cheese. Then seal the dough thoroughly around the filling. Shallow-fry in about half an inch of oil or deep fry until golden. Drain and sprinkle with plenty of cinnamon and sugar. Serve warm. Makes around 3-1/2 dozen. Does not freeze or reheat well.