Man-oushi (singular for Mana-eesh) may look humble in appearance, but is
steeped in tradition.
Mana-eesh be Za’tar is a herb-flat-bread traditionally served for breakfast, but I am willing to have it any time of the day! If not made at home it is conveniently bought from neighbourhood bakeries. Always accompany Mana-eesh Be Za’tar with wedges of tomato – they go very well together.
A Za’tar (thyme) mixture consisting of thyme, sumac, sesame seed and salt is available at Middle Eastern specialty shops. Sumac is added for its tangy taste; at times it is augmented with citric acid. (Citric acid is salt-like, and possesses an acute lemony taste.)
2 mL (1/2 tsp) sugar
350 mL (1 1/3 cups) lukewarm water
10 mL (2 tsp) yeast granules
7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) salt
750 mL (3 cups) all purpose
15 mL (1 tbsp) vegetable oil
250 mL (1 cup) za’tar (thyme mixture)
175 mL (3/4 cup) olive oil
Dissolve sugar in the water, add yeast and let stand for ten minutes. Add salt to flour and mix. Pour the yeast mixture over the flour and mix thoroughly. If you find it too sticky add more flour.
Sprinkle a handful of flour on the counter top and knead dough until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Form into a longish shape and pat with vegetable oil.
Divide dough into 3 or 4 portions. Roll into smooth balls. Place on a tea towel, cover with another tea towel and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll flat until 7 mm (1/4 inch) thick or the thickness of orange peel.
Place on a greased baking sheet – or on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal or flour. Cover with a tea towel and put in a warm draft-free place for at least 1 hour. Just before baking, indent all over the surface with your fingers in order to make wells for the oil while Man-ooshi is baking.
Mix Za’tar mixture with oil and spread over dented loaves. Bake in a hot 230-260C (450-500F) oven for about 15 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown. Broil the tops a bit.
Serve piping hot, and always accompany with wedges of tomato. A nice cup of tea will also add to your pleasure!
Makes 3 – 4 loaves.
Note 1: In recent times, Mana-eesh made with a variety of appetizing toppings have become quite popular; the toppings range from specialty cheeses, onion mixture, sausage, eggs, etc…
Note 2: Miniature Mana-eesh may be served as appetizer.
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