Za’atar Manaqish | Recipe by Sana Masood Ebrahim
Manaqish are almost the Middle Eastern equivalent of homemade flatbread pizzas. The word Manaqish is rooted in the Arabic verb naqash, which literally means to sculpt or carve out. After the dough has been rolled flat, it is pressed by the fingertips to sculpt little dips for the topping to sit in.
Traditionally, manaqish, like we have here, are made from smaller portions of dough left over from daily baking. Classic manaqish are typical with one of three toppings: minced lamb, cheese, or a mixture of za’atar spice and olive oil.
• 1 cup lukewarm water
• 1/2 tsp sugar
• 2 tsp active dry yeast
• 3 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting
• 1 tsp salt
• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For Za’atar Topping
• 7 to 8 tbsp za’atar spice mix
• 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh vegetables (tomato, cucumbers, lettuce, radish)
• Hung curd or feta cheese
1. In a small bowl, combine water, sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to foam.
2. Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt,and olive oil Work the mixture with your hands. Now, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Stir until soft dough forms.
3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is elastic, smooth, and no longer sticky (as you knead, if dough is too sticky for you, you can sprinkle just a tiny bit of flour to help it).
4. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with damp cloth and place in a warm spot (inside a warmed but turned-off oven is a good place). Leave to rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
5. Punch dough down. Knead briefly and form into 8 small balls. Arrange on lightly floured surface, cover again and leave to rise another 30 minutes.
6. Prepare the za’atar topping. While dough is rising, mix together the za’atar spice and olive oil in a bowl.
7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a large baking sheet in oven while heating.
8. Form za’atar manaqish. Lightly oil the heated baking sheet and set near you. Flatten the dough into small discs about 5 inches in diameter. With your finger tips, make indentations in discs and add about 1 tbsp za’atar topping in the middle of each disc, leave a narrow boarder around. Arrange discs in prepared oiled baking sheet (use two sheets if needed, do not crowd the manaqish).
9. Bake in 200*C pre heated-oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the dough is slightly browned on bottom and edges (za’atar topping will remain liquidy at this point). Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so, the topping will dry and settle into dough.
10. Serve za’atar manaqish warm or at room temprature with assorted vegetables, olives, cheese, or homemade hung curd dip.