Bread, a staple in various cuisines around the world, comes in an array of delightful forms. Among these, the class of flatbreads stands out for its versatility and unique flavors. While many may be familiar with popular flatbreads like tortillas, pita, or naan, there is one particular Levantine gem that often goes unnoticed but deserves a special place in every food lover’s heart – manakish.
1. The Versatile Delight of Manakish
Manakish, also known as manaqish, manaeesh, manakeesh, managish, or man’oushe, is a mouthwatering flatbread topped with an assortment of ingredients, ranging from aromatic spice blends to savory cheeses and meats. Originating from the Levantine region, which encompasses Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel, this flavorful creation has rapidly gained popularity and is now a cherished part of the local culinary landscape.
Renowned for its crispy bottom and soft interior, manakish traditionally features za’atar as its primary topping. Za’atar, a delightful blend of the titular herb (closely related to thyme, oregano, and marjoram), toasted sesame seeds, sumac, and salt, infuses the bread with a burst of tantalizing flavors. However, the beauty of manakish lies in its adaptability. It serves as a versatile canvas for various toppings, and culinary enthusiasts can experiment with different combinations to create a personalized culinary delight.
2. A Gastronomic Adventure with Manakish
When it comes to manakish, there are no boundaries. Beyond the classic za’atar, the flatbread welcomes an array of toppings, including savory cheeses, succulent meats like ground chicken or lamb, fiery chilies, eggplant, and spinach. The choice of cheese usually includes salty white varieties such as feta or queso blanco, complementing the bread’s taste perfectly.
Moreover, manakish harmoniously pairs with accompaniments like labneh, a tangy and creamy strained-yogurt cheese, as well as fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions. Additionally, it serves as an ideal companion to a diverse range of dips, such as tzatziki, hummus, or baba ghanoush, enhancing the overall culinary experience.
3. Crafting the Perfect Manakish
For those eager to embark on a culinary adventure and create their own manakish, the process begins with essential ingredients like water, flour, yeast, sugar, oil, and salt. Combining the yeast and sugar with warm water sets the stage for the dough to rise. After blending the dry ingredients and adding oil, yeast, and water, the dough is kneaded to perfection until it becomes smooth and elastic.
The dough is then left to proof until it doubles in size, similar to the process for making pizza dough. Once proofed, it is divided into smaller portions and flattened into thin, uniform rounds. These rounds serve as the base for the delicious toppings that follow. Whether it’s za’atar, cheese, meat, or a delightful blend of all three, the choices are limited only by one’s imagination.
To achieve the signature crispy texture, manakish is baked at medium-high heat (around 400 – 425 degrees) for 10 to 15 minutes. This results in a delectable treat with a slightly charred crust, offering an unforgettable sensory experience.
Manakish, the delightful Lebanese flatbread, stands as a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the Levantine region. Its versatility and inviting flavors have made it a beloved dish for locals and a hidden gem for international travelers. So, if you find yourself near a street food stall, a charming bakery, or a fine-dining establishment in the Levantine region, do not hesitate to indulge in the scrumptious experience of manakish. It is a gastronomic adventure that promises to delight your taste buds and leave a lasting impression.
FAQs About Manakish
Is manakish only consumed for breakfast or lunch?
Yes, manakish is traditionally enjoyed during breakfast or lunch throughout the Levantine region.
Can I make manakish without a pizza stone or baking sheet?
Absolutely! While a pizza stone or baking sheet enhances the crust, manakish can still be baked on oiled baking sheets or parchment paper with equally delicious results.
Can I customize manakish toppings to suit my preferences?
Absolutely! Manakish is a versatile flatbread that allows for limitless customization, giving you the freedom to explore and savor your favorite flavors.
Is manakish suitable for vegetarians?
Yes, manakish can be made with a variety of vegetarian toppings, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians looking to enjoy a delectable Levantine treat.
Can I pair manakish with sweet toppings for a dessert option?
While manakish is traditionally enjoyed with savory toppings, there’s no stopping you from experimenting with sweet options like honey, nuts, or fruit for a delightful dessert twist.