Za’atar Manaeesh

Mini Za'atar Manaeesh

Za’atar manaeesh were my go to ‘fast food’ breakfast when I lived in the United Arab Emirates. With bakeries at every corner, getting a few of these on our way to school in the morning was an easy and delicious way to get breakfast in. I didn’t realize how much I loved the flatbreads covered in za’tar (a spice mix) until I immigrated to Canada.

Suddenly, I was on a quest to find the best manoosheh (singular form) and all the nearby options I found were less than satisfactory. Why was it so oily? Why is the za’tar so salty? Why is the bread soggy? 😦 When I finally did find an acceptable place to buy them in Mississauga, I still missed the convenience of being able to have manaeesh without having to drive out of my way to get them.

What’s a girl to do? Make them herself of course! Or, get her mom to make them, hahaha. First thing’s first, what is za’atar? It’s both the name of wild thyme, and the mixture made from the thyme which includes sesame seeds, sumac, salt and of course thyme. Now, the actual ratio of the mix is something that changes from household to household and bakery to bakery. Every person will take pride in their special za’atar. That being said, you can buy pre-made mix from any Middle-Eastern grocery store.

Packaged Za'atar

I would be lying if I said the store-bought stuff is as good as the hand-picked mix you can get if you know someone in the motherland, but it’s as close as one can hope to get. There are many types of za’atar, red, green, Lebanese and Jordanian, etc.; I usually get the green Lebanese, or I ask the store owner, or the friendly looking mom, what the best option is :D.

All you have to do once you have the mix, is mix it with some good olive oil and spread it over a flatbread, toast it and you’re good to go! If you’re so inclined, you can make your own flatbread, but for a quick breakfast, slathering some za’atar onto a thick, store-bought pita and toasting it in the oven works just as well. I’m reluctant to include a recipe, because there’s nothing to it really, but here you go:

Makes 5 large Mana’eesh

To make the za’atar paste:

  • Equal parts olive oil & za’atar mix (about half cup of each is good for this recipe)
To make the dough (or just use use store-bought pita):
  • 1 rounded teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose or bread flour (you can use whole-wheat)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
In a small bowl, mix the olive oil and za’atar mix to make a paste. Depending on how much you use on you mana’eesh, you may need to make more (just add equal parts of za’atar and oil). Set aside.
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and sugar in a 1/4 cup of water and set aside for the yeast to work it’s magic. Bubbles and foam will appear.
Meanwhile,  put the flour in a large bowl and make a depression in the middle. Add the olive oil to the middle and work it in the flour with your fingers. Add the yeast mixture and then gradually add 1 cup water, knead until you have one big sticky ball of dough.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead, adding a few tablespoons of flour at a time, until you get a dough that is smooth and does not stick. This should take about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Place in a warm place for about an hour for it to rise.
To make the mana’eesh. Divide the dough into 5 equal balls. Flatten each ball into a circle with a rolling pin or your fingers. The thickness is entirely up to you, I prefer a bit of a thicker man’oosheh myself.
Divide the za’atar paste amongs the 5 mana’eesh circles and spread with the back of a spoon. Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet in an oven preheated at the highest temperature. Bake for about 5 minutes until the edges just start to get golden brown.
Top Tip: You can also make these on the grill. For an even easier recipe just skip the dough making and spread za’atar mix on a thick, Greek style pita. You can also freeze any leftover mana’eesh.
Change It Up: Top your mana’eesh with feta, tomatoes, mint, olives, scallions or any combination you would like!

Did You Know: That children in Lebanon are always encouraged to have a za’atar manoosheh before an exam? Apparently, za’atar is good for the memory. Sounds like a perfect excuse to have me some mana’eesh over the next few weeks!



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2 responses to “Za’atar Manaeesh

  1. Julie

    LOVE Za’atar but we have some really salty za’atar at the moment. Any way to fix this???? My husband is Syrian and we both always have Lebanese za’atar.

  2. Hmmm, you could just try adding more thyme and sesame seeds to dilute it?

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