Murtabak Recipe – How To Make Delightful Singapore Chicken Folded Flatbread

This article has links to products and services we recommend, which we may make a commission from.

This murtabak recipe is for a delicious folded roti or flatbread stuffed with juicy flavorful chicken. Popular in Singapore and famous in Asian and Arab countries, murtabak is a beloved food. This easy version of murtabak Singapore makes little pockets of goodness that are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Journey to Singapore with a local favorite everyone will go crazy for!

Authentic Food Quest Page_Break

What is Murtabak?

Murtabak Singapore by Authentic Food Quest
Delicious pockets of murtabak stuffed with chicken

Murtabak is a type of folded flat bread popular in Arab countries and Southeast Asian countries like Singapore and Malaysia.

These folded breads are square shaped and slightly golden in color. When you bite into them, you discover either meat, vegetables, eggs, onions, and more.

The seasonings and fillings in Murtabak vary from country to country.  This folded flatbread, made with wheat flour, has sweet and savory versions. 

It is usually filled with chicken or meat, egg, vegetables, and herbs. Sweet versions include chocolate, nuts, and even condensed milk.

In the countries where murtabak is popular, it is enjoyed as an everyday dish and is a popular street food.

In this murtabak recipe, we focus on chicken murtabak, one of the most traditional and tastiest versions we had in Singapore.

History of Murtabak

Singapore Murtabak by Authentic Food Quest
The first versions of murtabak were made in Yemen

Murtabak, also known as mutabbak, matabbak and mutabbaq, comes from the Arabic word “folded” (Arabic: مطبق). 

However, some historians also link the word murtabak to the Macedonian word “mutabar.” By which this dish was known in ancient times. 

This word “mutabar” is a blend of  “muta” or egg, and “barota”, or bratha roti, to refer to bread.

The first versions of murtabak were made in Yemen. Yemen was formerly populated by a significant Muslim Indian community of Tamil origin.

Indian Muslim traders are said to have spread the recipe on their commercial activities throughout Southeast Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Today, there are dozens of regional preparations for murtabak. They all differ significantly from one country to another, in the ingredients and the preparation.

Murtabak filled with lamb and murtabak with minced meat are common. The meat is seasoned with local spices with some chopped vegetables added.

In most cases, you’ll not find pork murtabak. This is because murtabak is popular in countries with large Muslim populations and pork is not a Halal food.

Singapore Murtabak

Murtabak Vendor Food in Singapore by Authentic Food Quest
Murtabak vendor in Singapore

Murtabak is extremely popular in Singapore. Fluffy with a crisp exterior, the murtabak is stuffed, folded into a square shape, and cooked in ghee.

In Singapore, popular stuffings include mutton, shredded chicken, tuna, sardines, or minced beef. 

In recent years, some creative stall owners at hawker centers offer murtabak stuffed with squid, prawns, or crab.

In 2016, chefs at Springleaf Prata Place, an Indian Muslim restaurant, attempted to make Singapore’s largest murtabak. 

The single murtabak measuring about 6 ft x 1.5 ft / (2.1 x .45 m) paid tribute to one of Singapore’s beloved dishes. 

Murtabak Singapore is typically served with wet gravy and sliced cucumbers soaked in a tomato-based sauce.

Singapore’s Zam Zam restaurant, a century-old famous eatery is where we savored chicken murtabak.

Discovering Murtabak in Singapore

Murtabak at one of the best affordable restaurants in Singapore. This food in Singapore is one of the best dishes to eat in Singapore for dinner. It is also one of the famous local food Singapore.
Murtabak at ZamZam restaurant in Singapore

Even before arriving in Singapore to explore the food, locals we met on our travels had already told us about Zam Zam.

Zam Zam, an Indian Muslim restaurant that opened in 1908, is the most famous restaurant for murtabak in Singapore.

When we arrived at the restaurant, we were immediately captivated by the murtabak preparation process.  

In the outdoor kitchen, right by the entrance, the vendors skillfully press the dough, stretch it, stuff it and cook it to perfection. 

There are theatrics involved and the whole process is fascinating to watch. It definitely gets one in the mood for murtabak.

We ordered chicken murtabak, the restaurant’s signature dish. The large and beautiful crispy pastry with a golden appearance tempted us. 

Succulent chunks of chicken, perfectly seasoned with eggs and onions filled the inside.

At Zam Zam, the chicken murtabak was accompanied by a thick bowl of chicken curry and sliced cucumbers.

When dipped into the curry sauce, the chicken murtabak was heavenly.

With mind blowing flavors, there is everything to like about murtabak. 

And, with this murtabak chicken recipe, you can make one of Singapore’s heritage dishes in the comfort of your kitchen.

RELATED: Top 12 Authentic Singapore Food You Want To Try

Murtabak Recipe – How To Make Singapore Chicken Murtabak at Home

Ingredients Murtabak Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Ingredients for murtabak recipe

This murtabak recipe contains two sub-recipes. The first is the recipe for the dough, which is cooked raw, directly in a pan. 

The second sub recipe is for the filling, which is a chicken stew in our case.

The first step in making the murtabak is to prepare the dough. This dough requires a bit of rest so that the flour particles absorb the moisture from the dough. 

While the dough rests, make the filling with the chicken and spices.

When the murtabak dough is ready, it is spread out on a flat surface. And filled with oil so that it can be easily taken off. This dough should be very thin, almost transparent. 

The cooked filling is placed in the center and closed like a letter to form a square envelope.

These filled squares go straight to a skillet with ghee and are cooked on both sides. If your murtabak is on the thicker side, simply hold it down with a pair of tongs to cook evenly.

Ingredients

  • Bread flour
  • Ghee
  • Water
  • 3 Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Onion
  • Fresh ginger
  • Fresh turmeric root
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Murtabak Dough

Ingredients Murtabak Dough by Authentic Food Quest
Ingredients for murtabak dough

First, it is important to understand what the dough of the murtabak is like. Those who bake and have experience in kneading expect the dough to come off easily when it’s done.

Unfortunately, that is not the case for the murtabak dough. This dough is soft, sticky, and quite moist. This way it can be stretched enough to make foldable pancakes or murtabaks.

To make the dough for the murtabak, the first thing is to add the salt to the wheat flour and mix it well. 

Then, add the liquid ingredients a little at a time, starting with the ghee and ending with the water. 

This dough is easier to knead in a bowl, at least until the flour absorbs the moisture.

The kneading process requires patience to get a dough with an elastic consistency. 

The dough must rest for a couple of hours, before dividing it into small balls to make the murtabak.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: Using the same dough, you can also make a traditional Thai dessert. Get the recipe for Thai Roti – Best Crispy Banana Thai Pancake

Murtabak Chicken Filling

Chicken cooking for murtabak Recipe by Authentic Food Quest
Chicken mixture cooking to make the filling for murtabak

Making the filling for murtabak is as simple as it is tasty. To prepare the chicken stew, first chop the onions, chives, and garlic and then sauté everything together. 

When it becomes transparent, add the chicken and the spices to form a delicious stew. This takes less than twenty minutes to cook. 

The stew must be dry so as not to ruin the dough.

Murtabak Recipe Tips

Use Bread Flour To Make Murtabak Dough

Bread flour has a high gluten content making it a strong flour that provides the right structure and texture.  

Compared to 12% gluten in All-Purpose flour, bread flour usually contains 13-14% gluten. This makes bread flour popular for breads, rolls, pizza dough and the recommended flour for this murtabak recipe.

The extra protein from the gluten makes it a bit denser and perfect for containing the chicken filling in this murtabak recipe.

You can order bread flour and have it delivered from Amazon. Alternatively, you can also use All-Purpose flour in equal amounts.

Tips To Stretch The Murtabak Dough

Shaping Murtabak Dough Step 9 by Authentic Food Quest
Shaping the murtabak dough

To stretch the dough for the murtabak, you must first cover your hands and the surface on which you will stretch them with oil. If not, the dough will stick easily to your hands.

If the murtabak dough sticks to the surface where you stretched it, you can peel it off using a kitchen spatula.

If you have never made murtabak before, first start by stretching a ball of dough. Stretch it out on a flat surface without filling and try folding it.

Repeat as many times as necessary until you feel comfortable stretching and folding the murtabak dough.

Spread enough ghee in the pan where you will cook the murtabak. And, choose a nonstick skillet.

Cook the chicken very well, the only liquid that contains the murtabak filling is the egg.

AUTHENTIC FOOD QUEST RECIPE: How To Make Phyllo Dough From Scratch – Easy Homemade Recipe

Have Ghee or Clarified Butter to Coat The Dough

Ghee is very important to the murtabak tastes and flavors. It is used as an ingredient in the dough and also to knead and stretch the dough. 

Similarly, the pan where the murtabak is cooked should be covered with ghee or clarified butter.

Curry Dipping Sauce

In Singapore, murtabak is usually accompanied by a delicious curry sauce. While you can enjoy the murtabak without the curry sauce, having the additional flavors elevates the experience.

We recommend this Madras Curry sauce, a zesty blend of black pepper, coriander, coconut milk and curry leaves. 

Simply simmer the sauce and use it as a dip for your Singapore murtabak.

Freezing Murtabak Dough

Dough Balls for Murtabak Step 07 by Authentic Food Quest
Dough balls for murtabak

Murtabak dough is very simple and does not contain yeast. So, it can be refrigerated for up to three days, and stored in the freezer for up to four weeks. 

In both cases (freezer or refrigerator), the dough should not be thawed in the microwave. Only at room temperature.

Prepared murtabak can be cooked and stored in an airtight container for up to five days.

Murtabak Recipe –  Step by Step Instructions

Make The Murtabak Dough

Prepare the dough by mixing all the ingredients together. When the dough appears elastic and homogeneous, put it inside a bowl and cover with a lid on it. 

Let the dough rest for about two hours. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

After two hours, remove the dough from the bowl. Turn it over onto a clean flat surface and knead it for a couple of minutes. 

Divide the dough into eight or nine dough balls of similar size. Each ball should weigh approximately 90g.

Make the Chicken Filling

Over medium high heat, cook all the garlic and onions in a pot with ghee. Add the spices and continue cooking.

Add the chicken to the pot. Using a spoon, shred the chicken while mixing it together with the onions, garlic and spice mix. 

Cook uncovered and stir to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Turn off the stove when you don’t see the liquid at the bottom of the pot. Set aside and let it rest.

Shaping Murtabak

Once the chicken has cooled down, in a mixing bowl, add the eggs and stir well.

Grease a flat surface with ghee and put a little on your hands. Take one ball of dough and stretch out the edges using your fingers.

Using a tablespoon, take a generous serving of the chicken mixture and place it in the center of the dough. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling and shape the murtabak until it looks like a square. 

Repeat these steps for all 8 or 9 murtabak balls.

Cooking Murtabak

Heat ghee in a pan over medium heat. Lay out the murtabak and cook it on both sides for about 3 minutes on each side until crispy.

Add more ghee as you cook all the murtabak. If your murtabak is well stuffed and thick, use kitchen tongs to gently press down. Cook all four edges until crispy.

Singapore Murtabak by Authentic Food Quest

Murtabak Recipe

Yield: 8 murtabak
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours

This murtabak recipe is for a delicious folded roti or flatbread stuffed with juicy flavorful chicken. Popular in Singapore and famous in Asian and Arab countries, murtabak is a beloved food. This easy version of murtabak Singapore makes little pockets of goodness that are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. Journey to Singapore with a local favorite everyone will go crazy for!

Ingredients

For the dough

For the filling

  • 1 lb or 550g of minced or shredded chicken
  • 2 tablespoons of ghee
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped, 100 g
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped, 60 g
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 fresh ginger root, 2.5 cm, 15 g
  • 2 fresh turmeric roots, 5 g
  • 4 cloves of garlic - crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of curry powder
  • 1 red onion, 50 g
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. Place four cups of bread flour, along with the salt, in a large bowl. Mix well. Then, add ghee and egg. Reserve half a cup of flour.
    2. Mix with your hands or a spoon, incorporating the water little by little. Knead either in a bowl or on a flat surface. Knead until the dough loses moisture. Add the remaining flour little by little using a tablespoon until the dough appears elastic and homogeneous. Place in a bowl with a lid and let it rest for about two hours.
    3. While the dough is resting, prepare the chicken filling. Place two tablespoons of ghee in a pan over medium-high heat. When the ghee starts bubbling, add the crushed garlic first, followed by the yellow onion and spring onion. Cook for a few minutes until they turn translucent.
    4. Next, add the cumin, curry, salt, grated turmeric, and grated ginger. Stir well and cook for about three minutes.
    5. Put all the chicken into the pot, and with a spoon try to shred it while mixing it with the sautéed onions and spices.
    6. Cook uncovered over high heat, stirring occasionally to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom. Turn off the stove when you don't see the liquid at the bottom of the pot. Let it rest.
    7. Remove the dough from the bowl. Turn it over on the table, and knead it for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into eight or nine balls of similar size. Each ball should weigh approximately 90g.
    8. Pour the chicken stew into a mixing bowl, when cool. And add the eggs. Stir well.
    9. Grease a flat surface, put a little oil on your hands, and take the first ball of dough. Put it on the table, and stretch it from the inside out, pushing with the tips of your fingers.
    10. Next, place a generous tablespoon of chicken in the center of the dough, and fold the edges over the filling into an envelope. Mold the murtabak with your hands until it looks square. Repeat this process with all the dough balls.
    11. Over medium heat drizzle some ghee into a pan. Take one murtabak square and cook it on both sides, for about three minutes, until crispy. Add more ghee as you cook the murtabak squares. Use kitchen tongs to turn over the murtabak and press down if your murtabak is thick.
    12. Serve the murtabak with red onion and finely chopped cilantro (optional).
    13. Best enjoyed hot.

Notes

    • Spices are crucial for this murtabak recipe and if they are fresh the better the flavors. We use fresh ginger and turmeric roots, along with curry, cumin, garlic, and salt.
    • Murtabak is usually eaten together or dipped into curry sauce. While the curry sauce is optional, it is worth trying for an even more flavorful experience.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, Authentic Food Quest earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 141mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 28g

Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information is generated by an online API and makes calculations based on serving sizes. These figures are only estimates and results may vary.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a Star Rating or simply share a photo on Instagram

Love Murtabak? Pin it!

Pinterest Singapore Murtabak Recipe by Authentic Food Quest

27 Comments on “Murtabak Recipe – How To Make Delightful Singapore Chicken Folded Flatbread”

  1. Oh I love the spices in this recipe! Curry and turmeric are 2 of my favorites! I have a personal chef client that would love these handheld entrees. Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  2. I tried this for dinner tonight. It is truly wonderful, nothing is overpowering and not heavy on the stomach. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Yummy! This looks so tasty and packed with flavor. The family is definitely going to love this. Looks so amazing and I loved reading this post, so fun and interesting! I can’t wait to make these for my family with my daughter! Thank you for a unique recipe!

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Post a Comment

We love to hear from you, so tell us what you think.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.

Skip to Recipe