Andy Sewell, courtesy of Phaidon
Recipe adapted from samromani
Manriklo is a pan-fried bread traditionally cooked over ashes, though you can use a pan or cast-iron skillet. Hancock likens it to Native American “frybread” and Indian naan. Every Romani clan and sub-community has a version this pan-friend bread: to say that bread is a staple would be an understatement. Bread has an importance in Romani culture tantamount to holiness — there’s rarely a meal without it. In We are the Romani people, Dr. Ian Hancock reveals that bread should never be thrown away, and if you drop the bread, well then you best apologize to it. Many Roma will kiss their bread before eating it. Bread is serious.
The Manriklo recipe is usually basic because it’s meant to be a pallet for the baker’s creativity. I like the combination of bacon, rosemary, and dill, which pairs well with the “Gypsy Celebration Soup.” I like the bread with grated and melted Gruyère on top, but you could even mix the Gruyère in with the dough. Bread is everything.
Combine flour, salt, bacon, rosemary, dill, and optional Gruyère in a bowl.
Add warm water in small amounts until the dough is able to be worked with. If too much water is added, then add flour until the dough is the proper consistency.
Add several drops of oil and knead the dough.
Divide the dough into small balls.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, or stretch it into a thin circle with your hands.
Coat the pan with oil and allow it to heat.
Place the flattened dough in the pan when the oil sizzles.
If cooking over ashes:
Place a rack, pot, or pan over the ashes of a fire, add oil to the surface if necessary, and allow it to heat.
Place the flattened dough on the cooking surface.
Be sure to flip the bread so that it cooks evenly. When the bread is ready, it should be fragrant, raised, and slightly brown on both sides. Serve with grated, melted cheese (if desired).