This Eastern Mediterranean dish consists of a doughy flatbread topped with spices, cheese, or meat. Manakessh can also be topped with spinach or Swiss chard. There are various spellings, such as manakish, manaqish, manaeesh, or manakeesh. The dish is often eaten for breakfast or with small dishes in a meze (appetizer) spread. Enjoyed in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, the dish is also found among Middle Eastern communities in the United States. A common topping for manakessh is za'atar—a mix of ground spices, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and sumac—that is mixed with olive oil and spread onto the dough before baking. Queso blanco or mozzarella can be substituted for the traditional akawi cheese.
Recipe Servings: 6
- In a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast, sugar, and ½ cup of the warm water.
- Set aside for 10 minutes to proof the yeast, until the texture becomes foamy.
- Add the flour, the remaining ½ cup warm water and salt.
- With the dough hook attachment of the stand mixer, or kneading by hand, begin mixing on low speed.
- Slowly add in the oil.
- Increase the mixer speed until the ingredients are fully combined, adding more flour or water as needed to achieve the desired consistency.
- Lightly flour a bowl and turn out the dough, placing it inside the bowl and then covering with a kitchen towel.
- Let rise in a warm place for 60 minutes, until doubled in volume.
- Divide the dough into 12 balls, then re-cover and let rise for an additional 30–45 minutes.
- In a bowl, soak the akawi cheese in cold water for at least 30 minutes. If using another cheese, skip this step.
- In another small bowl, combine the za’atar with oil.
- With a large box grater, grate the soaked akawi cheese. Skip this step if using a different cheese.
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- Prepare a baking sheet, lining it with parchment.
- On a floured work surface, roll each of the balls of dough out to a round shape 6 inches in diameter.
- Place the rounds on the prepared baking sheet.
- Top 6 of the rounds with grated cheese and 6 with a generous amount of the za'atar mixture.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.
- Serve warm, or at room temperature.
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