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.
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)
- 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
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!