Manakeesh: How To Make Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza

Manekeesh or Manaqish is almost the equivalent of baked flatbread pizza in the Middle East. The Manaqish term is rooted in the Arabic verb naqash which literally means sculpting or cutting out. After rolled flat, the dough is pressed by the fingertips to form small dips to rest in the topping.

Manaqish are usually made from smaller amounts of dough leftover from regular baking. Usually, classic manaqish has one of three toppings: hazelnut lamb, cheese, or a combination of za’atar spice and olive oil. 

Manakeesh is a very popular breakfast meal in Levantine. It consists of a flatbread overlaid with a variety of potential toppings. Za’atar, cheese, and onion, and tomato, or a combination thereof, are only a couple of those toppings.

Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Snacks
  • Cuisine: Lebanese

They are most commonly made about the size of a personal pizza pan and folded in half like a sandwich for easy consumption. Though there are many different varieties, the most well-known manakeesh is za’atar and cheese. In Lebanon, the go-to breakfast is known as Manakeesh. It’s quite close to the way we treat an egg and cheese sandwich as our go-to breakfast in America.

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The whole preparation and cooking time is 3 hours. This recipe is suitable for 4 servings. 

Photo credit: @rashacooks / Instagram.com

Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza Ingredients

For the dough,

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one package active dry yeast)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, more for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For za’atar topping,

  • 7 to 8 tbsp quality za’atar spice
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Additional ingredients,

  • Fresh garden vegetables (tomato, cucumbers, radish)
  • Olives
  • Homemade labneh or feta cheese

Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza Instructions

Step 1: Combine the water, sugar, and yeast in a small pot. Put it aside to foam for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Create the batter. Combine the flour, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl. Run your hands through the mixture. Now, make a well in the middle and pour in the mixture of yeast and water. Stir until the dough becomes soft.

Step 3: Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic, smooth, and no longer sticky (as you knead, if the dough is too sticky for you, just sprinkle a tiny bit of flour on it).

Step 4: Shape dough into a ball and place it in a mixing bowl that is lightly oiled. Cover with damp cloth and place in a warm place (a good place is inside a dry, but turned-off oven). Let stand for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Step 5: After the dough has rested, briefly knead and shape into 8 little balls. Arrange on a lightly floured surface, cover again and leave for 30 minutes to grow.

Step 6: Mix the za’atar spice and olive oil in a bowl while the dough is rising.

Step 7: Oven preheat to 400 degrees F and heat up a baking sheet.

Step 8: Make the za’atar. Clean the heated baking sheet gently, and set it near you. Flatten the dough into tiny disks with a diameter of around 5 inches. Make indentations in the discs with your fingertips and add about 1 tbsp of za’atar topping in the center of each disk, leaving a narrow border around outside.

Step 9: Arrange the disks on an oiled baking sheet prepared (use two sheets if necessary, don’t crowd the manakeesh).

Step 10: Bake in a 400 degrees F heated-oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until the bottom and edges of the dough are slightly browned (za’atar topping should remain liquid at this point).

Step 11: Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes, let the topping settle into the dough.

Step 12: Serve manaqish za’atar hot or at room temperature with some vegetables and feta cheese.

Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza Additional Information

  •  Za’atar is a popular spice mix of Lebanese oregano, a couple of other spices, sumac, and toasted sesame seeds.
  • This recipe will take about three hours to make.
  • This recipe will make enough for four people.
  • The za’atar blend in Manakeesh is mixed with olive oil and poured over the flatbread, and then baked in a brick oven.

Image source: thespiceathome.com

About Lebanese Manakeesh Pizza Recipe

The dough recipe is homemade. You can most definitely use all-purpose flour if you choose, but with bread flour, the dough comes out fluffier!

You blend an even ratio of Za’atar with olive oil or vegetable oil can also be used. The most widely used cheese in manakeesh is a white salty cheese known as akawi. A milder cheese, called Nabulsi is also used. You may also use the queso blanco combined with mozzarella as a tasty alternative with a pinch of salt.

Conclusion

You can also make these a week or two ahead and freeze them in freezer bags. Then, you can take as many manakeesh as you need out to thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature. Warm them up in the oven at a low temperature. Click here to learn more information about international recipes.

Featured Image: @zaatarwzeitkw  / Instagram.com, @zaatarwzeitkw / Instagram.com

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