Vegetable Manakeesh /Manakeesh bil khodra
Manakeesh /manakish /manaeesh or in singular form man’ouche, a popular flaky, crispy and a bit chewy Lebanese round-dough that is filled with different spreads (zaatar / kishik/ cheese/ vegetables). Traditonally, they are baked in an open flame oven. Almost all bakeries in Lebanon start selling these treats early in the morning. It is difficult to pass by these bakeries without being drawn by the irresistible smell – and still they taste ten times better! Now if I had to pick just one kind of food to eat for the rest of my life, I would definitely choose manakeesh! A staple breakfast in Lebanon and a classic that is found in every street corner bakery in Beirut - even the smallest village in Lebanon has at least one bakery that sells manakeesh. How I missed my breakfast in Beirut!!
The most popular spread is the zaatar that I adore!! But have you ever tried the vegetable manakeesh? They could be equally good if made properly - made of fresh tomatoes, onions, red bell pepper paste, sesame seeds, cumin powder and red chili pepper. Fabulous blending of flavors, even my pickiest son declared that the recipe is a triumph!! Happy eating!!
I would love to hear your feedback if you try the recipe!!
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and oil. Add the warm milk and integrate all the ingredients with your hands. When the mixture starts coming together, knead it thoroughly and push your hands, curving your fingers over the dough to get a malleable dough.
Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 1 hour or until it doubles in size
When the dough has doubled in size, divide the dough into 10 equal balls. Sprinkle some flour on top of the balls.
Divide the filling equally on top of the round dough, leaving a 1.5 cm/ ½ inch boarder around the edges.
For the dough
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 11/2 cups luke-warm whole milk
For the vegetable filling:
- 1.5 kg/ 3lb. 5 oz. fresh ripe tomatoes, diced (including their skin)
- 3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
- 3 teaspoons red bell pepper paste, or 1 medium-sized fresh red bell pepper, de-seeded and blended to smooth (I prefer the red bell pepper paste)
- ¼ cup white sesame seeds,optional
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 red chili pepper, de-seeded and crushed with a mortar and pestle, optional
- First off, check the expiration date on the package of yeast.
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar, yeast and oil.
- Add the warm milk and integrate all the ingredients with your hands (You may need to add more milk than the called for. The amount of moisture in the flour determines how much you need to add).
- When the mixture starts coming together, knead it thoroughly and push your hands, curving your fingers over the dough to get a malleable dough.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling:
- In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, onions, red bell pepper paste, salt, cumin powder, canola oil, sesame seeds and red chili (if used). Refrigerate allowing the ingredients to blend together.
To roll and bake the manakeesh:
- When the dough has doubled in size, divide the dough into 10 equal balls. Sprinkle some flour on top of the balls.
- Sprinkle some flour on a clean countertop and sprinkle some more on your rolling pin (this will prevent the dough from sticking.
- Preheat the oven to 230°C /450°F.
- Place one ball of dough over the floured surface and stretch it with the rolling pin to a round circle about 1.5 cm / 1/2 inch thick and about 20 cm/8 inches in diameter. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Transfer each rolled dough to a lightly greased baking sheet or a baking stone.
- Use your fingers to dimple the surface of the dough
- Divide the filling equally on top of the round dough, leaving a 1.5 cm/ ½ inch boarder around the edges.
- Bake the manakeesh, you may probably need to bake in batches, in the lower middle rack of the oven until the edges and surface are golden in color. Remove from the oven and enjoy with a hot cup of tea! How delicious!!
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