Manakish: This Middle-Eastern Pizza Is Also A Popular Breakfast
Image Credit: Instagram @zaatar_w_bass

One of the most beloved snacks of all time, pizza is primarily of Italian descent. In Italy alone, you would find so many variants of it. Naples does it a certain way which is distinct from the Sicilian way of baking pizzas. But beyond Italy too, equally interesting pizza variants have found their own loyal set of takers. For instance, the Chicago Grill Pizza from Chicago, the deep-dish delicacy may be a little ‘too much or ‘too cheesy’ for a few, but it is an ultimate feast for some. 

To make compare these countless variants, we must first understand what constitutes a ‘pizza’. Pizza is bread topped with a sauce or relish, some cheese, herbs, veggies or meat. As per legends, foods like pizza have been around since the Neolithic age, especially in and around the Mediterranean region. In the 6th century B.C, Persian soldiers in the reign of Darius the Great would bake bread with cheese and dates. Since the food is that ancient, the way people have adapted it to their local palate is even more heartwarming, keeping the snack alive in their own way. 

Instagram @zaatar_w_bass

What Is A Manakish? 

Recently, I tried the Manakish. What is a Manakish, you ask? Manakish is a Levantine bread which is also sometimes called a Middle-eastern pizza. Manakish or Manousheh comprises dough pressed thin but not too thin, and it can be topped with thyme, ground meat, or cheese. Back in the day, women would bake bread in an ordinary oven in the morning for their bread needs throughout the day. For breakfast specifically, they would take smaller portions of dough with different toppings and serve it to their family, with some dips. Manakish can be cut into slices; additionally, it can also be folded and served. It can be both breakfast or a lunch item for its filling quality. The bread is widespread across the Levantine region and surrounding regions where the Levantine people have settled down over the years. 

Manakish is a plural form of the Arabic word Manqusha, a derivative of Naqasha, which refers to an engraving or a carved-out sculpture. So when, Manaqish is rolled out, with fingertips, a few dents are created where the toppings sit. 

The Magic Of Zatar

Speaking of the toppings, it would be a crime of sorts to not touch upon Zatar, a form of relish or spread made with combining dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt and sumac. When mixed with olive oil, it obtains a consistency that makes it easier to apply all over the bread. The bread with Zatar is baked until the bread is slightly brown. Zatar is the most popular topping on a Manakish. Some other popular toppings are cheese, like akkavi and kashkaval, which are often mixed with the Zatar to lend a creamier touch to the Manakish. Then, there’s minced lamb. Manakish with lamb is usually served in lunch due to its heavy contents, but if you have an appetite for so much meat in the morning, you can have it for brunch too. Greens like spinach or Swiss chards are also some usual suspects, and they are crucial to lend some freshness to the Manakish and cut through the heaviness brought in by cheese and meat. 

Here’s a recipe of Manakish that you may try at home. Let us know how you liked it. Make sure you have it fresh. Nobody likes a tough Manakish; trust us, your Instagram can wait.