Manakeesh is a Lebanese dish that can be roughly described as an Arab pizza. It is made by flattening the dough and adding a delicious variety of toppings.
The name comes from the Arabic word “Manqushah,” which means carving or stamping. The Manakeesh got this name because flattening out the dough is done by fingers which leaves little dents on the surface.
They are an absolute staple in Arab countries and the toppings can range from minced lamb to labneh and za’atar.
The earliest record of manakeesh was found in a recipe cookbook from the 10th century.
But unlike how many other traditional recipes evolve with time, manakeesh has managed to remain the same throughout the passing of the centuries.
The recipe in the ancient cookbook mentions the use of flatbreads, thyme and olive oil, which remain the main ingredients to this day.
According to the blog Al-Deewan Bakery, the tradition started in the biblical era, when women would bake the dough in the morning in a communal oven and use different toppings on little portions of dough to feed their family.
It is cost-effective and easy to make. Today’s recipe is a classic manakeesh za’atar.
To make the dough for the manakeesh, you will need 500 g of flour, ½ cup of milk, 2 ½ tbsp of oil, 1 tbsp of instant yeast, 1 tsp of sugar and ½ tbsp of salt.
Combine all the ingredients together and knead the dough for about 10 minutes. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it proof for 1.5 hours.
Mix ¾ cup of za’atar with ¼ cup olive in a bowl and set aside. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.
Once the dough has proofed, make smalls into your desired size and flatten the dough with a rolling pin, or if you want to opt for a more traditional approach, you can flatten it with your hands.
Spread za’atar and olive oil mixture on the rolled-out dough and bake for 10-12 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy.