It’s time to take a break from Pizza and embrace manakeesh. Manakeesh is a much-loved Lebanese breakfast made of pizza-like dough with delicious toppings of herbs, ground meat or cheese.
It has all the delectability which a pizza offers yet stay true to its roots, owing to its traditional toppings. So if you are bored of the same old Italian pizza, take a bite of manakeesh for a refreshing change.
Manakeesh is the perfect example to depict the evolution of village cuisine into urban culinary backdrop. A food which was once cooked by village housewives, now rules the street food stalls as well as menu of plush bistros.
The secret of its popularity lies behind its simplicity, low price tag and of course it’s amazing rustic flavours. It is a lip-smacking outcome of a marriage between aromatic herbs and mild, creaminess of the cheese, in concert with soft chewiness of the dough – a true culinary rendition in every aspect.
When it comes to toppings, there are so many options to choose from, zaatar or a mix of dried herbs, sumac, sesame seeds and salt, being the most popular one.
And if it turns out to be too naive for your palate, team it up with akawi cheese (cheese preserved in salt bath), kishq (mix of burghul and dried yogurt), ground meat or spinach to make it more wholesome. Most of the names are surely alien to you but a trip to Middle Eastern grocery will solve your problem in a jiffy. And don’t forget to serve manakeesh with diced tomatoes and cucumber by its side; without them a manakeesh will remain incomplete.
So start your day with Manakeesh or snack on it during any part of the day and treat your taste buds to authentic Middle Eastern flavours.
· 2 ¼ lb all purpose flour
· 2 tsp dry yeast
· 2 cups warm water
· 1 tsp salt
· 4 tsp olive oil
· Fresh Lebanese zaater, stirred into adequate amount of olive oil to get a runny consistency
· 1/3 cup grated akawi cheese
· Stir the yeast into ¼ cup of warm water and set aside for an hour to let it become active.
· Stir the salt into the flour along with some olive oil over it, empty the remaining cups of water on it and combine them together into soft, pliable dough.
· Roll out the dough into a medium-sized circle of moderate thickness and spread the zaater-olive oil mix all over the surface.
· Top it up with grated akawi cheese and place the dough on a baking sheet.
· Cook in your oven for about 6 minutes or so at 650 F; keep a watch on the manakeesh to save it from burning.
· serve right away with pickled cucumber and fresh tomatoes.