Tuesday, January 30, 2007

middle eastern morning goodness

the following flatbread, called mana'esh or manakish, is one which is extremely popular as a morning breakfast snack as is usually flavoured with either the savoury blend of spices called za'atar or some kind of [arabic] melted cheese. the same dough can also be topped with a spicy ground meat mixture and is then called lahm b'ajin. all three preparations are very popular.

za'atar, a type of oregano and a much loved herb and spice mixture, is something which can be bought in more upscale grocery stores these days but it is much cheaper to buy in larger quantities at a middle eastern, and sometimes mediterranean stores. it can also be made at home. see the last 1/3 of my previous post to find recipes and learn more about this herb itself and the spice mix.

the following recipe can be made in a snap and doesn't require hours of proving the dough. it is quite labour un-intensive and can be made in a matter of a few hours leaving you with excellent results. the manousheh can be flattened, spread with the za'atar mix and then immediately frozen and then taken out later to be baked.

these manousheh (plural of manakish) are baked in the oven very quickly at a high temperature. in reality, they are quickly baked on a rounded heated surface which is called a saaj, almost like an inverted wok. you can see examples of it here and here. this site shows how someone is making them on the back of a fry pan! it's in arabic, but you can still get the idea from the pictures.

whichever way you make them, they taste wonderful — especially at breakfast time.

this is a short article about the bread and a vegan* recipe for it [mine uses an egg].

manakish (bil) za'atar مناقيش
lebanese herb flavoured flatbreads


1 c warm water
1 tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp sugar

1 egg* [refer to above link]
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt

3 1/2 - 4 c AP flour

for the herbed oil:

6 tbsp za'atar
1/2 tsp salt
7 tbsp veg or olive oil


add water, yeast and sugar to a bowl and let sit 10 minutes.

add the egg, oil and salt and mix well.

add the flour until you get a soft dough. knead the dough for about 5 to 10 minutes and add more flour, if needed. note that this dough is a little on the sticky side; it is supposed to be that way — though it should not be "wet". . do not add too much flour {refer to "this is a short article" link above in the recipe instructions if you want further confirmation! ;P}.

let the dough sit covered for 40 minutes in a warm spot.

after 40 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 F.

put the dough on a counter surface and shape it into a very thick rough rectangle. cut the dough in half lengthwise and then each half into three equal pieces (sun was going down when i shot these pictures!).

line a baking sheet with parchment paper or tin foil. lightly grease the foil, if you are using that.

make the za'atar oil mixture by mixing together the salt, za'atar and oil. [restir it each time you use it to redistribute it as the ground spices will settle at the bottom.]

take a piece of dough, covering the others, and press it down with your fingers spreading it to a very thin 1/4 inch. do this to the others, depending on how many you will be able to fit on the baking sheet. they should be about 6 to 7 inches wide.

you can also cut each of the six pieces in half again and make mini manousheh if you like.

stir the oil-za'atar mixture again well, and spread a full tablespoon on each round of bread dough. using the back of a spoon or your fingers spread the mix all over the dough.

let this sit for 10 minutes to rise a bit.

before putting them in the oven, use your fingers to press down into the dough to dimple it so it doesn't puff up too much in the oven.


bake for 10 minutes and let cool on a rack.


these are at their best when warm or at room temperature. they are often served with feta, olives, tomatoes, cucumber slices, etc...



The TriniGourmet said...

looks complicated :) but it's after 2 a.m. :D i don't see any fingers :( setting sun is always nice :)

i like olives :)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Oh my goodness, that looks wonderful! Just what I would need for breakfast...

Coffee said...

Looks Delicious!!!!! :)
Can make with dried oregano as well???? if cannot find Za'atar

Princess Jibi said...

wow you sure do have a heavy breakfast... I can only have light stuff like bread.

mandira said...

Wow, the manakish looks delicious. Just came across your blog, you have a wonderful collection of recipes! Great job.

beenzzz said...

I would love to try this. I don't know about making it myself, but it looks delicious! :)

TBTAM said...


Karina said...

You are a bread-baking maven, Bubela! Beauty.

Linda said...

this looks so beautifully delicious and flavor packed! i'm restraining myself this very moment from runing to the kitchen to make it. wow -- thatnks so much for sharing it. love the fetta photo!

Pammie said...

Hi Burekaboy,

Looks nice. I love middle eastern food. Especially from Turkey, have you been there? I reckon they have the best kitchen in all of Europe, if you include Turkey as part of Europe. Okay they are closely tied with France, now that I start to thinking of fois gras and all those varieties of cheese... Anyway the turks have an amazing variety of foods and are very inventive. And their waiters are very professional, especially fish restaurants where they fillet the fish for you at the table.

TopChamp said...

I'm a novice breadmaker and have always refrained from making it properly (ie. not in the machine) as I can't think of a warm place to leave it to rise.

Will you tell me please where your warm place is? (Same question to anyone else who has one...)

TopChamp said...

p.s. Decided to stick to basics with Brownies and go for jam tarts - they'll be red and purple so I'll get away with it I think for valentines. Easier to do with 20 than biscuits.

burekaboy — said...

sarina - LOL, everything is complicated after 2 am! no fingers this time, they may show up later though..... :B

rosa - i'm not a breakfast person myself really but after 10 am, ok, i'll eat :))

coffee - yes, you can use oregano/thyme but grind it. don't know if you can get sumac in s'pore though. i think you may be able to find za'atar there (muslim markets?).

PJ - nawww ... my breakfast is always liquid until later on!

mandira - welcome and thanks for the visit and comment :) glad u like the recipes.

beenzzz - it's not as complicated as it looks :P most people buy these from cafés anyway.

TBTAM - thanks :))

karina - hola chiquita banana :P now if only they were GF. thanks for the kind words :D i think u need to make up a goddess version — you'll end up a hero.

linda - hey there :) thanks for the compliments and dropping by. they are indeed very flavour packed; hope you try 'em. :D

TC - np re: brownies. as one idea, i was gonna tell u to make the lemon squares and use food dye to colour the base pink. your idea sounds mighty fine. good luck with the project.

as for the baking, this is a foolproof recipe really. in terms of finding a warm place, really ambient (room) temp is fine but it may take a little longer for rising. often i will put the dough in a closed environment like inside the microwave with the door closed (obviously); you can also use the inside of the oven -- heat the oven at lowest temp for only 1 - 2 min and turn it off. then put dough inside with pilot light on. that will work also. hope that helps.

burekaboy — said...

pammie - oops, missed u in that long previous reply! turkish cuisine is very familiar to me and one of my favourites; as you say it has a great variety. it has a very old culinary tradition with many influences and also has several different regional ways of cooking giving it even more variation. jews have lived there for many centuries and developed a rich sephardic tradition, especially in the culinary sense so many of the dishes are the same [i.e. burekas, kefta and shwarma] or similar (they mix alot of dairy with meat and we don't). unfortunately, i haven't had the chance to visit but it's on my list of places to visit. also, za'atar and sumac are extremely turkish, too and used at breakfast time. (btw, e-me; i can't find ur email on ur site).

chanit said...

אתה יודע כמה אני אוהבת כאלו..נכון? נשאר משהו-אז תשלח לי
גם אצלך בלוגר עשה בעיות אתמול
הפיתות שלך והבלוג שלך הוזכרו היום
?יש תוכניות לט"ו בשבט או שזה הפתעה

burekaboy — said...

עד עכשיו הייתה הפתעה עדיין, רק משהו קטן אני חושב -- מה אתם עושים

אז זאת אומרת שאני מפורסם עכשיו
!?:)) HAHAHA

chanit said...

אכלנו יותר פירות יבשים מרגיל, מלון מיובש אכלת
הבית מלא אגוזים מכל סוג..
?אצלי תמיד היית מפורסם, זה לא מספיק

לאחר שכתבתי על הבלוג שלך באורט, מישהו שם גילה אותך שוב לפני יומיים, המליץ שכדאי להציץ למטבח שלך

...פעם יגלו גם את שלי שמה...סתם צוחקת:-)

burekaboy — said...

חנית - את יודעת, לא אוהב פירות יבשים ממש אבל לפעמים בא לי לאכול אותם

מה אומרת!? לאאא נכון -- את מביאה/מראה לנו תמיד משהו חדש וטעים כל פעם

באמת לא יודע איפה את מוצאת את כל הדברים על מה שכותבת בבלוג שלך

צחקתי בקל רם על מה שכתבת שפעם יגלו אותך, שטויות את כבר מפורסמת -- אני באמת צריך להודות למי שכתב עלי

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I made this bread yesterday and it was fabulous!!! Thanks for giving me the idea!

burekaboy — said...

rosa - thanks for the feedback, my dear. happy to hear you liked them so much! they're great rewarmed, too.