Crispy Dough


I am bad with secrets. I’ve always been bad with secrets. You shouldn’t tell me any secrets, secret holders, because I will give them away.

Case in point: the brunch you see above. What is it? Where can you get it? Why do I love it so?

If I were a good secret keeper, I’d end the post here. But I am not a good secret keeper and alas you shall know…

It all started last year when we moved to Park Slope. My friend Shirin, who I know from college, said: “You have to go to Miriam for brunch and have the crispy dough.”

I thought I wasn’t hearing right. “Crispy dough?”

“Yes,” she said. “Crispy dough.”

“Like the outside of a pizza? Like a freshly baked loaf of bread?”

“No you idiot,” said Shirin, who is a lawyer. “It’s its own dish–a middle eastern dish of fried dough with egg on top and it’s served with pulverized tomatoes and harissa.”

This sounded too bizarre to be true, so the next day I joined Shirin and her boyfriend for brunch and proceeded to order the crispy dough. To quote Elaine Stritch in her one-woman show: “A star was born.”

What is it about crispy dough that makes it so great? It’s certainly not its healthy qualities: it’s basically a big savory pancake fried in grease and topped with a greasy egg. But that pancake–something about the texture of it, almost like a potato pancake without the potato–is a true winner. In combination with everything else: the egg, the tomato and the harissa, it’s heaven.

And if you have a hangover, it’s essential. I can’t imagine having a hangover and not getting crispy dough to cure it. In fact, I did that on Saturday morning after a WILD NIGHT of partying Friday night. (Ok, it wasn’t that wild. It involved show tunes.)

But here’s a thing: this a secret. Miriam is already too crowded as it is. We used to be able to get in right away, and now we have to wait. I was there at the beginning of crispy dough, and now it’s too big even for me.

I feel like the kid in a movie whose best friend becomes a rock star and then totally snubs him when the kid goes backstage to say hello. Don’t do this to me, crispy dough. I MADE YOU, I CAN DESTROY YOU TOO!

But we’re all safe, as long as crispy dough doesn’t get any bigger. So don’t tell a soul, ok? And if you see me at Miriam, just give me the crispy dough stare. I’ll know what you mean—it’s just between us.

21 thoughts on “Crispy Dough”

  1. Malawach!!! This is malawach, which my Israeli roommate used to make sometimes as a treat, and which I ate for brunch obsessively at the otherwise mediocre Hill Diner in Boerum Hill until I moved away a year and a half ago. I was dying to go back for the Best Brunch Ever, which the crispy dough with fried eggs and harissa and pickles and tomato puree clearly is, but it closed after I left town. Now I wonder if it was reborn as Miriam? Oh, so delicious.

    BTW, you can buy the malawach frozen. They used to have it at that (also closed) Israeli grocery store on Broadway at 93rd St. My roommate gave me a package as a going away gift when I moved to Brooklyn and I savored it as slowly as possible.

  2. Crispy dough? Potato pancake with no potato? can I get this in Manhattan? Running all the way up to Brooklyn just for crispy dough boggles me. Not until I get a sampling of just how good it is anyway.

  3. Hey Adam, a couple of years ago during the first edition of AG Survivor, I used malawach in one of my deserts. I believe I candied some eggplant, made some halvah ice cream and served it on it. Look it up!


  4. I love Miriam. It’s great for dinner too. Especially Monday/Tuesday night for the half-price bottles of wine. Love their food.

  5. oh — i knew where it was the second i saw the picture — i love love love that for brunch — sometimes i have dreams about it. . .

  6. Nothing in Park Slope is a secret anymore :( Me, I hear the scoop on all the best restaurants from toddlers, talking amongst themselves in their humongo double-strollers.

  7. I first discovered Malawach in Israel. Then, when I lived in the East Village in the 90s, I used to eat it regularly at Rectangles, which was then on the corner of Second Ave. and 10th Street. I just did a quick search and see that the same restaurant has since relocated to the Upper East Side. (1431 First Ave.) It *is* delicious, though I’m not sure I agree about the potato pancake without the pancake.

  8. it looks like a scallion pancake without the scallion. come to think of it, scallion pancake with fried egg would = perfect brunch food. greasy spoons take note!

  9. I love Miriam. I love Shakshuka for breakfast, hot and hummus-y deliciousness. They actually have a second location if not in the old Hill Diner location, then right near it. I always marvel at the phenomena that is mirrored retail/restaunts on 5th Ave PS and Court/Smith. I don’t know why but it always entertains me.

  10. Have you ever had Navajo fry bread (sometimes just called indian fry bread)? It sounds somewhat similar and is incredibly delicious. Often they make the bread into say tacos. In any case similarly wonderful treat, but probably harder to find in NYC

  11. alexandriamom, it is just called frybread, and is made by most tribes in North America, most certainly not just by Navajos, no matter what they say. The size, fluffyness and flavor of frybread changes from tribe to tribe also.

  12. Wow that looks great! Down in South Louisiana, we have something a bit similar. We use bread dough, stretch it out, and fry it in oil until the outside is crispy, but the inside is nice and soft. We serve it with a soft fried egg, or spread butter on it and top it with cane syrup. YUM!

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