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Arabic Flatbread with Herb Topping

20 February 2014 / 19:02:10  GRReporter
2849 reads

Danielle Lachana


Known locally as ''Manakish bi Za'atar'', where ''Manakish'' means 'decorated' or 'stamped' (fingers are used to make indentations in the dough - see method)  and ''za'atar'' refers to a generic name for a local herb of the thyme family*, this is a popular breakfast food in Lebanon as well as an appetizer and it is traditionally also eaten in neighbouring countries such as Syria and Palestine. It is often topped with cheese or meat but most popular is the version below with za'atar. Ready-made za'atar mixes are often used but you can easily make your own by combining thyme (and optionally also oregano and/or marjoram), sesame seeds and sumac.  Sumac, which comes from ground dark red berries that grow on bushes, has a slightly bitter and salty lemon flavour, so if you cannot find it you could substitute with some finely grated lemon zest and salt.

 These flatbreads also go very well with Muhammara (Roasted red pepper and walnut dip,) (see last week's GRR recipe here)



(Makes  approximately 8 (15 cm) bread rounds)



 For the dough, sift the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a food processor or mixer with a dough hook and mix at a fairly low speed adding the water gradually until the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl. Increase the speed a little and mix until the sides of the bowl are completely clean and the dough feels smooth and elastic.

Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely with cling film or a clean tea cloth/towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.

 Meanwhile mix together all the ingredients for the za'atar with enough olive oil to make a slightly runny spreading consistency.

 Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll into balls. Roll out each one on a floured worktop to a disc of thickness about 5 mm or less.

 Make indentations in the dough with your fingertips,



 and spread with the za'atar mixture leaving a border of about 1 cm.



Transfer the rounds onto a hot, lightly-greased baking sheet and cook in a pre-heated oven, in batches if necessary, at 220°C (425°F / gas mark 7) for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is a little crispy and brown. (Check that the base is cooked).

 Serve warm (or cool on a rack).

 Good also accompanied by roasted red pepper dip (see GRR recipe link above).



 Back next week with something sweet ...


 * Za’atar is a class of herbs, and includes members of the thyme, oregano, and savoury families. 

The ready-made mix, which is often used, contains one or more of the za’atar herbs and has many regional and even family to family variations.


Tags: Pita Manakish Arabic bread Mediterranean recipes Manakish bi Za'ataar Recipes Thyme sumac
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