Our very first attempt from the Arab cuisine. Manakesh, an all time favourite of all of us here at home especially the kids. Inspite of being living in the Middle East since quite a long time, I had never bothered to try out any of the Arab delicacies though we used to relish most of them from the Arab restaurants here.
This Arab bread was finally baked in my kitchen the other day. I should thank my cousin Rekha for this. She asked me if I could do a guest post in her blog Food0licious Pictured. She runs a beautiful blog with many delicious recipes. I wanted to give her something different, and what more could I give her staying in an Arab country other than an Arab delight. You can find us in her blog here.
For all those of you, who are not much aware of Zaatar and Manakish, “Zaatar” in Arabic is a traditional Middle Eastern herb mixture popularly eaten in countries such as Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey. It is traditionally eaten as part of a healthy breakfast with flat bread and olive oil or yogurt cheese. It is also used to spice chicken, meat and vegetables and can be mixed with olive oil and vinegar to make a salad dressing.
It is a mixture that is made out of mostly dried thyme, oregano, sesame seeds and sumac….there are many variations to it that consists of cumin, coriander, fennel seeds etc.
Here in UAE, it is readily available in all the grocery stores. For all those of you who are not in the Middle East can either check it out at any Middle Eastern grocery store or you can even make it at home.
If you are going for the home made zaatar you will need
- 1/4 cup sumac
- 2 tablespoons thyme
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
- 2 tablespoons marjoram
- 2 tablespoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
Coarsely grind the sesame seeds in a food processor or with mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. That’s it, zaatar is ready!!!
This zaatar can be stored for a long period if kept in an airtight container in a cool and dark place.
Manakesh, manakeesh or Manaeesh is an Arabic food consisting of a dough similar to a pizza dough, topped with zaatar, cheese(Akaawi cheese) or ground meat, but used widely in many Levantine countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch.
A very tasty and healthy dish which should be had with a cup of sweet black tea.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup water, lukewarm
1 cup zaatar
1/2 cup olive oil
- Mix the yeast in ¼ cup of lukewarm water and let it sit for 15 minutes.
- Mix the zaatar with the olive oil and keep aside.
- In a bowl mix the flour and salt. Add the yeast solution and knead well to form a soft dough by adding water little by little.
- Grease a bowl with a little oil and transfer the dough into this bowl. Cover the bowl with a moist kitchen towel and keep it in a warm place for 1- 2 hours. After 2 hours the dough will rise and double in size.
- Knead the risen dough on a floured surface for a few minutes. Now divide the dough into 8 equal parts and using a rolling pin, roll out each portion into your desired thickness and size(thickness depends on whether you want a crusty or soft base. For a crusty base roll out into thin rounds and for a soft base roll out into thick rounds.)
- Using a fork prick generously on the rolled out bases. Now smear one tablespoon of the zaatar and olive oil mixture on each base. Spread it all over the base.
- Bake these in a preheated oven at 350F for 12 – 15 minutes.
- Serve warm with a cup of extra sweet black tea.