I have a soft spot for Middle Eastern food. Or North African food. Or any food that stretches from the Western Sahara to the Black Sea. Tagines, pastillas, harira, falafel, hummus, baba ganoush… (in fact, baba ganoush was Ruby’s nickname when she was a tiny baby). Ruby’s not so keen on the concept, but usually happily hoovers up the result. When a Moroccan lamb tagine was suggested for dinner, instead of the usual couscous dish to accompany it, we decided to turn our hand to a flatbread. Now technically we should have made a Moroccan Khobz bread, but we have had a jar of za’atar in the cupboard for far too long, bought to make za’atar chicken last summer, and we reckoned that a Middle Eastern Maneesh bread would work just as well. Also, we had the recipe to hand.
Maneesh (adapted from Paul Hollywood’s recipe).
500g white bread flour
10g quick yeast
20ml olive oil
360ml tepid water
Za’atar spice mix (or make your own!)
Make a dough with all the ingredients and most of the water, adding more as necessary to create a workable dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead vigorously for 5-10 minutes until the dough is nice and elastic.
Shape into a ball and put into a clean oiled bowl. Leave to prove for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size. Knock back by folding in on itself until all the air is expelled. Divide into 3 pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten out into a circle, and then roll out flat, c. 2cm thick. Place all three on oiled or non-stick baking trays. Sprinkle with olive oil and then the za’atar mix. Leave to rest again for 20 minutes while the oven heats to 220ºc.
Bake in the centre of the oven for about 15 minutes or until the top is nice and golden, and the smell of the za’atar is filling the kitchen. Eat warm, piled high with Levantine lushousness.