Manakish (also pronounced as Manaeesh) is a Lebanese flatbread served with various toppings like cheese and za’atar. They are great as a snack, side dish, appetizer, or even a brunch.
They are usually made in a circular shape and folded in half with the toppings inside of them, resulting in a sandwich-like appearance.
If you’ve been put off by cooking with dough in the past, then this recipe will change that!
About This Recipe
Manakish (also known as manaeesh, manouche, man’ouche or manaqish depending on the dialect) is a savory pie or flatbread. They originate from Lebanon, but they are popular all across the Eastern Mediterranean, or Levant regions.
Za’atar or cheese are the most common toppings. Typically only one is chosen, but you can combine them too. The most common cheese used in manakish is a cheese called akawi cheese.
It is a white, salty cheese that is difficult to find. However, mozzarella is the perfect substitute for those without easy access. Other toppings include labneh (soft yogurt cheese) and a ground beef mixture like Lahm Bi Ajeen.
They are similar to a pizza and typically folded to be served for breakfast or lunch. In Lebanon, Manakeesh is considered the go-to breakfast.
Why You Should Try This Recipe
There are a bunch of reasons to give this recipe a go:
- Very little time prepping required – the mixing at the beginning of the recipe typically takes around 10 minutes prep, then it’s just a case of letting the dough rise for an hour and then cooking on a pan.
- Once you got the ingredient volumes right, it’s very simple to make. Particularly if you’re a bit scared of working with dough, this is a great introduction to using it.
- It uses minimal ingredients and you likely have most of them already at home (with the exception of the yeast).
- Get a taste of delicious, Middle-eastern style cooking (if you haven’t tried za’atar before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised).
- You can be very flexible in what you add for the toppings – some variations even have veggies.
- No oven is needed, with all the cooking done on a pan.
- Flour – we’ve used all-purpose flour since it’s the easiest to get. Bread flour can also be used, resulting in an even fluffier dough.
- Oil – we’ve used extra virgin olive oil since this is the healthiest and is found commonly on Mediterranean diets, but vegetable oil is also often used in traditional cuisines. Using the oil in the dough means you can add the dough straight to the pan without any extra oil.
- Yeast – we’ve used traditional yeast, which needs to be activated with warm water. Other types of yeast such as instant yeast can be added directly to ingredients.
- Toppings – za’atar and cheese are the most common. Traditionally akawi cheese is used, but mozzarella is perfect in this recipe. Other cheeses like feta can also work great. If you’re using za’atar, you can it yourself or make it at home with equal ratios of dried thyme, oregano, toasted sesame seeds, and sumac.
How to Make Step-by-Step Instructions (With Photos)
Step 1 – Mix the water, oil, sugar, flour, yeast, and salt together in a large bowl until a dough is formed.
Extra notes – we recommend a spatula to mix. Make sure the bowl is large enough otherwise you’ll be making a lot of mess in the kitchen.
Step 2 – Gather the dough and place on the countertop. Stretch, slap and fold until the dough is smooth. This usually takes between 5-10 minutes.
Extra notes – Be sure to clean the countertop first. Here’s a great slap and fold video demonstrating the technique for kneading the dough.
Step 3 – Add a drizzle of olive oil to a bowl and place the dough. Drizzle some extra olive oil onto the dough, cover, then set aside for an hour to let the dough rise.
Step 3a (optional) – prepare the za’atar. Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds to a dry pan and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes until the seeds are fragrant and brown, shaking the pan and stirring often. Transfer to a plate, then combine 2 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp dried oregano (or thyme) and 2 tbsp sumac in a bowl.
Step 4 – After an hour, transfer the dough to a chopping board, flatten, then cut into 3-4 separate pieces.
Extra notes – you’ll need a rolling pin to flatten. If you don’t have one, then there are rolling pin substitutes you can use instead like a wine or water bottle. If the worst comes to the worst, you can use your hands. Use a flat, open palm to push the dough and flatten evenly. It won’t be as flat or smooth as a rolling pin, but you just need to get the dough to the necessary thickness.
Step 5 – Flatten a piece so that it has a circular shape, then add to pan.
Step 6 – Cook for 3 minutes on a low heat until you see a lovely golden brown colour. Once this happens, flip then add the mozzarella or za’atar and fold.
Extra notes – be wary that if you cook for too long or on too high a heat, the dough may break when folded.
Step 6 – Cook each side for 2 minutes each, then plate. Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all pieces of dough are cooked.
Extra notes – cooking each piece of dough can take a fair amount of time considering each one takes about 10 minutes each. If you have a spare pan, then it isn’t too hard to cook multiple at a time.
Extra notes – If you have an extra pan to cook the flatbread in, then you can try cooking multiple flatbreads at the same time. Generally, you’ll need about 7-10 minutes per flatbread, so if you’re cooking lots of flatbread then this can be a great time.
How to Make the Za’atar Topping
If you don’t know what Za’atar is, it’s essentially a blend of different spices and seeds. Typically this includes savory dried herbs like oregano and thyme, earthy spices like cumin and coriander, sesame seeds, salt and sumac.
Sumac is a consistent spice you’ll see in za’atar and gives the tanginess that is the key to a good za’atar.
Overall, za’atar has a nutty, earthy flavor. You may be able to buy it in a supermarket, but it’s just as easy to do it yourself since it uses dried spices and herbs that keep for a long time and can make as much as you want.
To make za’atar, you’ll need equal measurements of
- Sesame seeds (or cumin seeds)
- Dried oregano (or thyme)
For 3-4 flatbread pieces, you’ll need 2 tbsp of each. Follow these steps:
- Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds to a dry pan and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes until the seeds are fragrant and brown, shaking the pan and stirring often.
- Transfer to a plate, then combine 2 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp dried oregano (or thyme) and 2 tbsp sumac in a bowl.
- Use the slap and fold technique to knead the dough.
- If you are only making the cheese manakish, then you can skip making the za’atar.
- Don’t cook the manakish on too high a heat to speed up the cooking process, as the dough may break when folding.
- If you have multiple pans on hand and feel confident enough in the cooking process, you can cook multiple doughs at the same time.
- ½ cup (125ml) warm water
- ⅛ cup (30ml) olive oil
- 1 tbsp (15g) sugar
- 1 ½ cups (180g) all purpose flour
- 1 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ cup (110g) mozzarella cheese, shredded
- Mix the water, oil, sugar, flour, yeast and salt together in a large bowl until a dough is formed. Gather the dough and place on the countertop.
- Stretch, slap and fold until the dough is smooth. This usually takes between 5-10 minutes.
- Add a drizzle of olive oil to a bowl and place the dough. Drizzle some extra olive oil onto the dough, cover, then set aside for an hour to let the dough rise.
- (Optional) Prepare the za'atar. Add 2 tbsp sesame seeds to a dry pan and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes until the seeds are fragrant and brown, shaking the pan and stirring often. Transfer to a plate, then combine 2 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp dried oregano (or thyme) and 2 tbsp sumac in a bowl.
- After an hour, transfer the dough to a chopping board, flatten, then cut into 3-4 separate pieces. Flatten a piece so that it has a circular shape, then add to pan.
- Cook for 3 minutes until you see a lovely golden brown colour at the bottom. Once this happens, flip then add the mozzarella or za'atar and fold. Cook each side for 2 minutes each, then plate.
- Repeat steps 5 and 6 until all pieces of dough are cooked.
Amount Per Serving Calories 192Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 1gCholesterol 4mgSodium 607mgCarbohydrates 36gFiber 2gSugar 0gProtein 6g
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