Recipe of the Week: Manakeesh bi Za'atar

Categories: Cooking!

Yesterday, Newt Gingrich warned parishioners at a church in Texas that by the time his granddaughters are his age, America will be ruled by the secular atheists and dominated by radical Islam. Leaving aside the obvious logical fallacy there (try suggesting to a radical Muslim that he become a secular atheist--well, go on, apparently radical Muslims are everywhere if he and his ilk are to be believed), the fact is that if we're on our way to becoming Saudi Arabia Occidentalis, the food we eat at home has a long way to go.

I don't know what this supposed takeover of our country would look like, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't look like the peaceful, loyal, completely non-threatening Muslims we have here in Orange County, the doctors and laborers and restaurateurs and small business-owners who've set up shops in places like Anaheim's Little Arabia, where they churn out amazing Middle Eastern food. Manakeesh--flatbreads with toppings--are not a sign of the coming apocalpyse, are they, Newt?

So, Newt, this recipe is for you. If you see this absolutely delicious Middle Eastern specialty being served, there's no doubt that your fearmongering brain will shriek that we are on the way to the destruction of the country you misremember from your halcyon youth. Meanwhile, for those of us back home outside your paranoid fantasy, these are just great, easy-to-make breads with an irresistible spice mixture on top.

1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 - 3/4 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. ground sumac (available in any Middle Eastern grocery store)
1/2 Tbsp. dried thyme
1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
1/2 Tbsp. dried marjoram (if you don't have it, substitute oregano)
1/2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted


1. Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl, then make a well and pour in 1/2 c. of water.
2. Stir with a fork, adding more water bit by bit, until the dough becomes a cohesive but rough blob.
3. Knead the dough on an unfloured, clean counter for 10 minutes.
4. Cover with a towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
5. Mix the sumac, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sesame seeds and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
6. Divide the dough into 6 or 8 equal portions and roll each into a ball.
7. Flatten each ball and roll with the heaviest possible rolling pin until it is the thickness of a dime (or slightly thinner). You may not need to flour the counter.
8. Heat a griddle over medium-high heat and brush with a small amount of butter.
9. Lay the flatbreads on (you will need to do this in shifts), then brush the top side with a small amount of butter.
10. When the dough starts to puff (1-2 minutes), flip the flatbreads.
11. When the dough starts to puff slightly (another 1-2 minutes), brush the top side with a small amount of butter.
12. Remove the flatbreads and sprinkle 1/2 to 1 Tbsp. of the za'atar (spice mixture) while the butter is still hot, and serve immediately.

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My Voice Nation Help

yummy!!! I am horrible in the kitchen. Is there anywhere I can go to try this out?


I love manakeesh. I have a lazier version of making these. I get Pillsbury biscuits, mix olive oil with zaatar, spread it on top of the dough, bake and indulge. You can also buy Labane which is a yoghurt spread and olives and eat them all together. Makes a great breakfast. Enjoy!

Foodie Carol
Foodie Carol

I have had manakeesh during my visit in Israel. They were a breakfast staple there. I have to say they are delicious! The smell of warm dough and zaatar fresh out of the oven is intoxicating...mmmmm! Can't wait to try the recipe.

Jeff C
Jeff C

Wow that sounds delicious. I will try it out! America is truly beautiful and great due to its diversity and this is a great example. I hope that food does ends up bringing people together in this country and the world. Thanks for the recipe!

Al Hamilton
Al Hamilton

When one of the smartest guys in Washington says something about the future of the country, you should try to figure it out, even if you despise everything you've heard he stands for. After all, Gingrich has a Ph. D. in modern European history and is a prolific novelist and historian, as well as a galloping, involved politician who just happens to be a former Speaker of the House.

Getting back to his point, think of it this way: corporate Village Voice Media -- your bosses -- is ruled by MBA, know-only-the-price-but-not-the-value-of-things managers at the same time that the company is dominated (or so they believe) by subversive alternative-newspaper types who can't wait for a shit-kicking stop-the-presses executive to take over. It's leadership vs. culture, and if you think very little of both, you have the problem Newt identifies for the country. But be careful what you wish for, Weeklys -- the shit-kickers often can't pay the bills -- and you be careful, too, USA -- the Newt Gingriches, unlike average pols, want the electorate to think, vote on hard problems, and plunge relentlessly forward, come hell or high water. It can bruise John Citizen.

Hey, I'm just pulling your leg! There's no danger that someone as bright and well educated as Speaker Gingrich could ever be elected president. The opposition has been feeding their media enthusiasts slimy lies about him for decades. But you better get ready for someone. Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama's halfway gone, seeing as how he just reinstated Gitmo, started an inexplicable new war on Syria Libya, has proposed a budget that forces the government to borrow 40 cents out of every dollar spent, has given the recession and high unemployment a head fake instead of hard thinking, etc. Wait a minute -- maybe there is hope for an idea-a-minute guy like Gingrich ....

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Yes! If you live in Orange County, there is a whole string of Middle Eastern bakeries along Brookhurst where you can get these for just a couple of bucks a pop, baked to order. Al-Amir Bakery is on Ball just west of Brookhurst (near the dollar theatre). Al-Sanabel is on Brookhurst and Brookmore, Forn al-Hara is in the same plaza as Olive Tree (on Brookhurst just north of Orange) and Zait and Zaatar is on Brookhurst closer to the freeway.

All are excellent.


Gingrich is a moron supreme who's also an adulterer. Nice to see you enjoy his idiocies!


Thank you Dave! Sounds Good, I appreciate your help. Al amir sounds like the closest one for me. I will try it out and re-post.

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