EVENT: BREAD BAKERS
THEME : MIDDLE EASTERN BREADS
Manakeesh, Manakish, Manaeesh, Manaqish or in singular form Manousheh is the Middle East’s version of a pizza. It is usually topped with herbs, cheese or minced meat and can be served for breakfast or lunch. Very popular in Syria, Lebanon and the Arab Peninsula. Traditionally, the women would bake them in a communal oven early in the morning in time for breakfast. Manaqish is the plural word of the Arabic word manqūshah which means to crave out or sculpt. The dough is rolled into a flat shape and then pressed by fingertips to create dips in which the topping lies in.
The cheese usually used for the topping is a soft white cheese called Akawi. I decided to use a popular topping, zaatar. Zaatar is a spice mixture which consists of thyme or oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt. Sometimes chili flakes are added. I had some ready made zaatar so I used that.
Serve Manakeesh Anytime
Though a popular breakfast bread, Manakeesh can be served with a main dish, soup or enjoyed on their own with a variety of freshly sliced vegetables like cucumber, onion, or tomatoes and olives or even meat. Modern day version of manakeesh has a topping of chocolate and banana.
Group Bread Bakers
Every month enthusiastic bakers get together to bake a bread/flatbread according to the theme. Members of the group take turns to suggest the theme. It is because of this group, I have discovered different breads or flatbreads world over.
This Month’s Theme: Middle Eastern Breads
This month Karen who blogs at Karen’s Kitchen Stories suggested Middle Eastern Breads. Did I mention that Karen is a fantastic fantastic bread baker? Oh yes she is and if you don’t believe me please check out her blog.
Middle Eastern Breads
I find Middle Eastern Breads so different in taste and flavours from the other breads. That is why I knew, come what may I have to participate in this theme. Actually, I am so busy doing 26 Indian Flatbreads for the group Blogging Marathon so was not sure whether I would manage. Baking or preparing flatbreads is the easy part. It is writing the posts on time that is difficult.
But, manage I did as I really wanted to try Manakeesh. I was beating the clock or well the days to get 26 flatbreads and the manakeesh ready before I travelled. We reached a point where hubby was screaming “make some rice, please!” Told him he could have all the rice he wants after my flatbeads were ready. You see it is only him, me and occasionally the neighbours who sample all the food that I cook.
Two days before travelling, I decided to bake Manakeesh. Hubby was up in arms! Forget it, he said. And I persevered. Manakeesh was baked and served with his favourite Leek Potato Soup. which sort of pacified him. We women sure know how to please everyone:)
Check out what kind of Middle Eastern Breads other Bread Bakers have made:
- Baked Pita Bread from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Eggless Challah Bread from Cook with Renu
- Fatayer Jebneh (Arabic Cheese Pie) from Food Lust People Love
- Garlic Butter Glazed Talami Bread from All That’s Left Are The Crumbs
- Jerusalem Bagels from Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Kaak from Ambrosia
- Khobz Al Khameer (Traditional Emirati Bread) from Ruchik Randhap
- Kubaneh from Gayaythri’s Cook Spot
- Laffa from Sizzling Tastebuds
- Manakeesh from Mayuri’s Jikoni
- Maneesh from The Mad Scientist’s Kitchen
- Rose Shaped Dinner Rolls – Turkish Pogaca Pastry from Sneha’s Recipe
- Tahinli Ekmek | Turkish Tahini Bread from Bread and Dreams
- Vegetarian Lahmacun (Turkish Pizza Snack) from Cook’s Hideout
Ingredients Required For Manakeesh
As I was leaving soon for India, I decided to make a small batch. Its the first time that I’ve made a dough for any bread that is so little! However, it was much easier to handle and knead. Double the recipe to make 8 pieces.
Also feel free to add a topping of your choice like white cheese, minced meat, etc. As akawi is not available readily in most countries, feta cheese makes a good substitute.
- Flour – all purpose flour, plain flour
- Water – normal tap water, warm
- Yeast – I have used instant dry active yeast. This doesn’t need to be fermented in warm liquid before adding to the dough.
- Salt – for the dough
- Olive Oil – use a good quality one as you want that lovely flavour from it. To add in the dough, greasing and for the topping.
- Za’atar Spice Mixture – it is quite easy to get this mixture in most Middle Eastern Shops. Or Google to make some at home as it is pretty easy. I had some gifted to my by my son, so used ready made one.
MANAKEESH, MIDDLE EASTERN FLATBREAD
FOR THE DOUGH:
- 1½ cups plain flour all purpose flour
- ½ cup warm water
- 1¼ tsp instant dry active yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 3-4 tbsp za'atar spice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- extra oil for greasing
- extra flour for dusting
PREPARATION OF THE DOUGH:
- Mix flour, salt and yeast in a big bowl.
- Add oil and rub it into the flour.
- Add water and make a soft dough.
- Dust the worktop with little flour and knead the dough for 5 -7 minutes till it becomes smooth and silky.
- Grease the bowl with oil.
- Shape the dough into a round ball.
- Rub oil over it.
- Place in the bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel or a lid.
- Let the dough rise for 45 minutes or till it is double the size.
SHAPE THE MANAKEESH:
- Grease your hands and gently punch down the dough using your knuckles.
- Knead the dough gently and divide it into 4 parts.
- Roll each part into a ball.
- Cover with a tea towel and let it them rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Grease a baking tray with some oil.
PREPARATION OF THE TOPPING:
- Mix the zaatar and olive oil together.
BAKE THE MANAKEESH:
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Dust the worktop with some flour.
- Take one part of the dough and roll it out or shape it into a circle using your hands. Make it a circle about 5 inches in diameter.
- Place the rolled dough on the baking tray. Using your fingertips, make small indentations all over the rolled dough.
- Take about a tbsp of the zaatar and olive oil mixture and spread on the rolled dough. Don't spread the mixture till the edges.
- Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Place the tray in the hot oven and bake the flatbread for 7-8 minutes or till the edges turn light brown.
COOL AND SERVE:
- Take the Manakeesh out of the oven and place them on a wire rack to cool.
- Serve it with cheese, soup, minced meat, vegetables, olives,eggs etc.
- make the manakeesh as small or big as you like.
- Serve it with a topping of salad to make it a light lunch option.
- You can pat it into shape with your hands or use a rolling pin.
- It is best not to spread the olive oil and za'atar mixture till the edge, outside the oil will drip out.
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