Manakeesh or Mana2eesh is a popular flatbread with a sultry flavor that makes for a unique appetizer or served in wedges to compliment a main course or can be topped with thyme, cheese, or ground meat. Similar to a pizza, it can be sliced or folded, and it can either be served for breakfast or lunch.
Manakeesh is popular in most Levantine countries, as well as in many cities throughout the world where people of Levantine origin have settled. Traditionally, Levantine women would bake dough in a communal oven in the morning, to give their family with their daily bread needs, the most popular form of manakeesh uses za’atar as a topping. The zaatar is mixed with olive oil and spread onto the bread before baking it in the oven.
Za’atar is popular in the Arab world as both a herb and condiment.. Za’atar is a traditional spice blend of dried herbs, sesame seeds, and sumac, and often salt, a centuries-old mixture dating back to the 13th century. In much of the Middle East, za’atar recipes are closely guarded secrets, there are also substantial regional variations.
Za’atar is popular in Armenia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. Along with other spiced salts, za’atar has been used as a staple in Arab cuisine from medieval times to the present.
Fresh za’atar, the herb itself, rather than the condiment, is also used in a number of dishes, it is used for seasoning for meats and vegetables or sprinkled onto humus. Za’atar is commonly eaten with pita, and when the dried herb is moistened with olive oil it becomes an aromatic delight that is spread on a dough base similar to pizza and then baked as a bread. In the Middle East it is sold in bakeries and by street vendors with za’atar to dip into or with a za’atar base filling.
Its strangely addicting, I love putting it on popcorn as opposed to using salt. So try dusting some on eggs, oatmeal, or yogurt. Or add some to your next batch of lemon cookies. Lemon, thyme, and sesame are a trio with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. A perfect touch to add to sweet and savory foods.
1 packet active dry yeast
3/4 c warm water (must be 110 degrees F)
2 c flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c olive oil, divided
1/4 c Za’atar
3/4 tsp kosher salt
Mix yeast with warm water in a large mixing bowl and allow to stand until a creamy layer of foam appears, about 10 minutes.
Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, then gradually stir in flour and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and just a little bit sticky, 10 to 12 minutes.
Place dough into an oiled bowl and turn dough around in bowl to coat surface with oil; cover bowl and refrigerate dough overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Coat baking sheet generously with about 2 Tbsp olive oil; place dough in the center of the baking sheet and flatten to spread out across baking sheet.
Use your palms and fingers to gently press and stretch dough to the edges of the oiled baking sheet, making the flatbread as even in thickness as you can. With fingertips, make small indentations in the dough.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and let double in size, about 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Stir za’atar and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the flatbread.
Let dough rest for 30 minutes uncovered.
Bake flatbread in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
Serve warm with some extra virgin olive oil.