Manakish: The "Pizza" of the Levant
There is one thing I would never want to miss during my visit to family in Lebanon: Manakish!
Just thinking about the delicious pancakes with za'atar topping, for example, makes my mouth water. I can't imagine anything better for breakfast.
When I'm in Lebanon, my aunt stirs the za'atar mixture, decants it into a Tupperware container and sends me to the bakery with it.
The baker's credo might be, "You bring the topping, I have the dough and the stone oven." So then I walk through Aley with the little Tupperware in my hand - and a growling stomach.
Aley: The City of Clouds
Most of my family on my mother's side lives in Aley. The small town in the mountains is about 16 km east of Beirut - directly on the way to Damascus. Tourism plays a very big role in Aley. In summer, the sheikhs of the Arabian Peninsula like to spend their holidays in the "city of mist". Due to its location in the mountains, it often happens that the entire town disappears in the clouds.
Compared to Beirut, the climate is less hot and humid, but still wonderfully summery. That's why Aley is also often called "Ahruß il Saif" - the bride of summer. And so the air of the summer evenings is filled with music and the smell of food and perfume is everywhere.
When I arrive at the bakery, I get in line. There are usually already a few neighbours waiting with their Tupperware while the baker rolls out the fresh yeast dough, presses small depressions into it with his finger syringes and spreads it with the toppings I brought along.
It all goes so quickly! No sooner have I handed over the zatar mixture than it's on the dough patties and then quickly in the oven. The smell is intoxicating! By the way, there are several variations of manakish that I would like to introduce to you very soon. But the version with za'atar is the classic.
The sound of the oven pusher as it slides along the floor of the stone oven and pulls the delicious dough patties out of the fire makes my stomach growl. The baker nimbly and deftly wraps the manakish in bread paper and presses the warm and fragrant package into my hand. On the way back to my aunt's, a mankushi (singular to manakish) always gets lost 😉
Recipe for Manakish
- Make the dough according to the recipe and let it rise covered for 60 - 90 minutes. (but do not bake yet, just prepare the dough!).
- Mix the za'atar with the olive oil and chopped onion to make a liquid dip.
- After the dough has doubled in size, divide it into a corresponding number of equal pieces and shape them into small balls. Then leave to rest under a damp kitchen towel for another 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 250 °C top and bottom heat. (If you have a pizza stone, preheat it on the lowest shelf).
- Line baking trays with baking paper. Or use a pizza stone.
- Roll the dough balls round with a rolling pin and press many small depressions into the dough with your fingertips.
- Spread a thin layer of the zatar oil mixture on the patties.
- Bake the manakish for about 4 - 5 minutes in the lower part of the oven.
You are now on fire for Manakish? Then try the Manakish with halloumi and tomato. And if you want to learn more about the Levant cuisine, then take a look at my guide.
Dear Rafik! I got stranded on your blog by chance and spontaneously fell in love - with your recipes, your mum and your stories. You are doing a great job, I feel very comfortable here. Definitely going to try some of your recipes soon, they sound fantastic 🙂 .
Hello Emilie! Wow, that's great feedback! Thank you so much for the compliments, I'm really happy about that 🙂
Finally, someone who understands my love for this dish. Since my first Mankushi in the restaurant "Beirut" in the Emirates I am desperately looking for a restaurant.
After your great recipe, I'm now going to make it myself 🙂 Thank you so much !
Thank you very much !
Thank you very much! One more tip: If you use a pizza stone, the base will be even better. Have fun cooking and enjoying.
Do you think you could also bake this on a "hot stone grill"?..,
Hello Thomas. That could actually work very well. A hot stone makes the bottom really good. Just don't forget to give it a little heat from above afterwards.
Hi, I have a question, my breads have become hard as a rock. What did I do wrong? 🤷🏻♀️
It could be the yeast. Did you use old yeast by any chance? Otherwise, try baking the manakish a little shorter.
A wonderful recipe - almost a revelation for us ;-). We have made Manakish many times now. Zaatar is addictive. Big praise also for this beautiful and lovingly made blog!!!
Hello dear Michi,
Thank you very much for your great feedback. I am very happy that I was able to get you addicted to Za'atar. My mission has succeeded 😀
I hope you have lots of fun cooking and enjoying the food 🙂
I was also in Beirut and saw people going to the bakehouse with a jar of their own mix. Also one of my favourite breakfasts. There was another version with cheese and slightly sweet, also from these Manaech bakers, was also great. I would be very interested to know how and with what cheese you could make this.
I also know the version with cheese. That would have to be Nabulsi cheese. This is a rather salty cheese that is usually desalted briefly in water. But you can also mix grated mozzarella with za'atar and make really delicious manakish.
Great recipe! So delicious and also vegan
Thank you so much 🙂
Hello Rafik! This was our first recipe from your blog and the beginning of our relationship with the previously completely unknown Lebanese cuisine. We were given za'atar as a gift and I found your brilliant blog while looking for a delicious way to use it. In the meantime, I've made it many times.
Za'atar pickled in olive oil: a new and interesting world for us!!! And it's the same with us: something always gets lost on the way to the table ...
It's a must to have a snack in between. With that smell, you can't help it, can you? 🙂 I'm very happy that you like it so much.
I'm very pleased that you like it so much.
I tried your great recipe the day before yesterday and am so excited! Next time I would probably use a little less oil and maybe even try a wholemeal dough, but your recipe made them absolutely fantastic. We had them plain, with vegan soft cheese, and topped with diced tomatoes, cucumber, mint, pickled white cabbage and tahini dressing for breakfast, along with Moroccan mint tea. Even my otherwise very picky flatmates were blown away 🙂
That sounds fantastic! Thank you so much for your mega feedback.
Keep up the good feasting 🙂
Simply fantastic. I tried your manakish yesterday and cooked it on the pizza stone in the gas grill. Making the za'atar myself instead of using the ready-made mixture I have here was definitely worth it. Everything super tasty and I really enjoy reading the stories about your recipes. Thank you so much!
mega!! Thank you so much for your fantastic feedback. Enjoy it 🙂