Za'atar bread (aka Za'atar Manaquish) is a Lebanese flatbread topped with olive oil and za'atar. In the Middle East they are typically served for breakfast, but they also make a great appetizer or side dish. This recipe is very similar to a vegan naan recipe, but so much tastier! Serve za'atar bread warm with a dip, olives and some chopped vegetables for the perfect tear-and-share platter.
What is manaquish?
Manaquish is a a popular Levantine flat bread with a long history in the Arabic world. Za'atar is the the most popular topping for this much loved bread, hence the term za'atar bread. Manaquish can be sliced or folded, and you can add whatever toppings your like to it. It's actually very similar to pizza!
The word manaquish is the plural for the word manqushah, which comes from the root verb naquasha, meaning to "sculpt or engrave." This is because small indentations are made in the dough to trap the za'atar and oil.
What is Za'atar?
Za'atar is a combination of herbs, sesame seeds and sumac that's a staple in Middle Eastern cooking. The taste is deep and rich with a hint of sour from the sumac.
You can make you own za'atar quite easily, but these days it 's readily available in most large grocery stores.
Ingredients in Za'atar Bread:
*This is a list of ingredient for the bread - or manaquish. You turn it into za'atar bread by adding olive oil mixed with za'atar in the quantities listed in the recipe below.
- Flour: I use plain white flour. However, you can use bread flour, which will add a bit more chew to your za'atar bread. If you have a gluten intolerance you can use gluten free flour in a 1:1 ratio.
- Sugar: Sugar not only enhances the flavor, it's essential in activating the yeast.
- Salt: Salt plays an essential role in baking. It tightens up the gluten structure, meaning that it firms up your bread.
- Yeast: Yeast can be a complicated beast! The fact is that you don't actually need to prove active dry yeast by soaking it in lukewarm water, but it doesn't hurt. For me, it's proof that the yeast is still active and will make the dough rise. If the yeast doesn't bubble up in the water, you know it's dead and that you need to use a different yeast. So, I included this step in the recipe. You can omit it if you know your yeast is new and active.
- Add the lukewarm water, sugar and yeast to a small bowl. The water needs to be lukewarm. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast. Leave the yeast to bubble and ferment for 15 minutes. If it doesn't bubble up, the yeast is too old and will not work in this recipe.
- Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and yeast liquid and stir until a dough ball begins to form. Dust your hands with flour, and bring the dough together with your hands.
- Dust your work surface with four, and knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of flour. It should be pliable and elastic.
- Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp towel. Allow it to rise for 2 hours. It should be roughly double in size.
- Knock the dough back and divide it into eight equal balls. Allow them to rise for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising again, prepare your za'atar mixture by mixing your olive oil with the za'atar.
- Heat the oven to 230 C or 450 F (hot!). Put two baking trays in the oven and heat them up for a few minutes. A pizza stone works perfectly here.
- Flatten each ball with your hand and stretch each piece into small flat breads. If you prefer not to use your hands to stretch the dough, you can use a rolling pin. You can create a personal pizza sized piece of bread either way. The dough should be about 10mm think and either oblong or round in shape.
- Spoon the oil and za'atar mixture onto the bread and place the trays in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Serve with my hummus or ful medame. Za'atar bread is also excellent with tzatziki, which can easily be made with vegan yogurt.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Vegan naan recipes don't normally call for za'atar. In it's traditional form, naan is made with ghee, which is not vegan friendly. Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice, so the flavor will be more intense than you would find with naan. If you would like to convert this recipe to a simple vegan naan, then simply omit the za'tar spices.
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Za'atar Bread - Za'atar Manaquish
For The Manaquish (bread):
- 2 ½ teaspoon instant dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water *must be lukewarm , not too hot.
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
For The Za'atar Topping:
- 2 tablespoon za'atar spice mix
- ½ cup olive oil
- Combine the yeast and suger with the warm water in a cup.
- Mix together the salt and flour in a large bowl.
- Gradually add the olive oil and water/yeast mixture, stirring the whole time.
- Once the mixture has started coming together, begin kneading the dough with floured hands. Continue kneading it in until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky add a small amount of flour.
- Cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 2 hours.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide it into eight equal balls. Leave them to rise for 30 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, prepare the za'atar mixture by mixing the olive oil and za'atar together in a small bowl.
- Heat the oven to 230 C (450 F). Place two baking sheets in the oven to heat up.
- Flatten each ball with your hands and stretch it into small flat breads. Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin to gently roll each piece into a flat bread. They should be quite thin, about 10 mm.
- Take the baking trays from the oven and oil them lightly. Transfer the za'atar bread to the trays and using your fingers, make small dimples in the bread. Spread the za'atar mixture onto the bread leaving a small margin around the edges.
- Bake for 10 minutes.