This is my version of Manakeesh, a popular Levantine food consisting of bread which is most commonly topped with Za'atar.
Yotam Ottolenghi describes za'atar as "A traditional spice blend from Palestine including dried thyme (za’atar) from the hills of Jenin in the north of the West Bank mixed with ground sesame seeds plus a touch of sumac, salt and vegetable oil. Perfect as a dip with Palestinian olive oil and freshly baked bread. This zesty seasoning is served at breakfast in many Middle Eastern countries – can be used with meat, fish, cheese, eggs or sprinkled on a pizza"
I first came across za'atar whilst in Israel and bought a jar back with me to experiment with back home. When mixed with olive oil, I would say that it is somewhat like pesto, with a wonderful savoury and salty taste. It works perfectly as a topping on fleshly baked bread.
I managed to source it back in the UK in my local organic shop,
. I have also seen it in Fair Trade shops.
This recipe makes a small round loaf, double all quantities for a larger one!
200g Strong Wholemeal Flour
A pinch of Salt
1tsp dried Coriander Leaf
1tsp dried Parsley
1/2 tsp ground Black Pepper
50ml warm Water (body temperature)
50ml warm Milk (again, body temperature)
1 sachet of Instant Yeast
1tsp Sugar or Honey
2tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1. Prepare the yeast by placing the warm water and milk in a small jug, then add the sugar and sprinkle with the yeast. Leave this for 10 minutes, until the yeast is thick and frothy.
2. In a bowl, mix together the flour, herbs, salt and pepper.
3.. Slowly add the yeast mixture until a dough is formed (you may need to add a little extra warm water if the dough doesn't come together easily.) Knead the dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes.
4. Shape the dough into a disk and place on a baking tray (I lined mine with foil.) Cover this with clingfilm and leave the dough in a warm place to rise for 1-1.5 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 200C, Mix together the za'atar and Olive Oil in a small bowl and spread on top of the dough.
6. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until the loaf is golden brown and hollow when tapped underneath. Serve warm with lashings of butter!