za’atar

All posts tagged za’atar

Maneesh Mania: Delicious Middle Eastern Flatbread

Published April 13, 2014 by The Feminist

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Some use a knife and fork, some use a spoon and some use chopsticks, but the best way by far to enjoy a dish, is if you can eat it with an edible spoon. This awesome Middle Eastern Flatbread is one of those edible eating utensils that make any other type of cutlery seem superfluous. Maneesh is a super easy, deliciously comforting flat bread topped with Za’atar (or other seeds and dried herbs you like) and is the perfect accompaniment to a mezze. Whether you’ve made some hummus, baba ganoush or a spicy harissa-yoghurt dip, everything will taste divine on this homemade bread.

I’m not an expert in the art of baking bread, but I can honestly say that this Maneesh recipe (adapted from baking God Paul Hollywood) is absolutely foolproof. The dough doesn’t need too long to proof, baking it into the oven requires only 15 minutes but transforms the house into a Middle Eastern Walhalla and eating it is even more gratifying. Soft in the middle, crunchy on the outside and the aroma of spice as the ultimate cherry on the cake. (Or in this case “the topping on the bread”)

So gather around some delicious dips, salted olives, refreshing salads, crumbly cheese and some friends to share it with, and start dunking your Maneesh!

You don’t even have to sit at a table. The only thing you need to start your dinner party are your fingers and your maneesh (and maybe possibly some napkins 😉 )

Ingredients (makes 4 flatbreads)

  • 500gr strong white flour
  • 10gr salt
  • 25gr caster sugar
  • 10gr instant yeast
  • 20ml olive oil
  • 360ml tepid water

For the topping:

  • 2 tbsp za’atar
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp oregano

Method:

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the olive oil and 250ml of water. Mix the ingredients together with your fingers. Gradually add the remaining water until all the flour has come away from the sides of the bowl and you have a soft dough.
  2. Pour a little oil onto your work top. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning (that’s completely normal so don’t panic!) but will form a smooth dough once kneaded.
  3. Place into a clean oiled bowl, cover and leave to double in size. (This will take approx.. 1-2 hours.)
  4. Line 2 baking trays with baking parchment.
  5. Tip the dough onto an oiled work top. Knock the dough back until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Split the dough into four and roll into large circles/ squares/ whatever shape seems suitable.
  6. Mix the topping ingredients with a little olive oil until you have a thick paste and spread the topping over each of the breads.
  7. Place onto the lined baking trays and leave to rest for another 20 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230°C.
  8. Bake in the oven for approx. 15 minutes.
  9. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

 

 

Emptying the spice bazaar: Zingy Za’atar and Sexy Sumac

Published September 2, 2013 by The Feminist

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Food is like life: it needs spice to make it exciting, otherwise it’s just…dull. It is a truth so simple that we often tend to take the incredible power of seasoning for granted and seem to forget the wide range of possibilities spices have to offer.

In my humble- but quite expertise- opinion, spices aren’t just a great way to unveil your inner culinary alchemist, it is also –and foremost!- a beautiful and delicious way to explore unfamiliar cultures that would normally be too expensive to travel to. (definitely if you’ve only got a student budget to fall back on, like myself.) I have never been to India but thanks to my fast expanding spice cupboard, I can now replicate (or at least try to replicate) the flavours, colours and incredibly tasty dishes this country has to offer in my own small kitchen.

Like an artist can’t paint without colours, I simply cannot cook without spices: they tantalize your taste-buds, they make everything look and taste mouth-wateringly delicious and they have the extraordinary quality of turning a snooze fest into a true Wake Up Call!

Two of my favourite spices at the moment (although one is technically a spice mix) are za’atar and sumac. Za’atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend which comes in many different varieties- every country has its own version, from Lebanon over Syria to Saudi Arabia – and its unique aroma embodies the multicultural soul of Jerusalem. Za’atar (Don’t you just love that name? I should probably google what it means!) is generally prepared using dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, salt and other spices such as sumac. You can use it to season meat, fish, veg or sprinkle it on top of some pita bread or your favourite hummus. It is vibrant, it is fragrant and once you’ve tried it, you will never want to go without.

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Another one of my favourite spices is one of the components of za’atar: sumac. This ruby red powder is made from berries of the sumac plant, which grows all over the Middle East and North Africa, and gives a very tart and fruity boost of flavour. I love it sprinkled on top of hummus, barbecued meats and fish or in a fresh yoghurt dip. It is the perfect substitute for lemon juice without being overpoweringly acidic and it just looks stunning in all its red glory as a garnish!

sumac

This dish was an homage to these spices. A fragrant maftoul couscous with za’atar carrots, Apricot and almond roasted red onion, topped with a zesty sumac Greek yoghurt. It may sound like an intricate dish, but it is super easy to make and the taste is simply sensational!

For the za’atar carrots:
• 1kg carrots, chopped into big chunks
• 3 tbsp z a’atar
• ½ tbsp sugar

Method:
1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sautee the carrots with the sugar and some salt and pepper for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of water and cover with a lid. Let it simmer on a low heat for about 15-20 minutes, or until the carrots are soft but not mushy.
2. Stir through the za’atar
3. Done!

For the couscous

• 250gr maftoul
• 4 spring onions, finely chopped
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
• Handful of dried apricots, finely chopped
• ½ tsp nigella seeds
• ½ tsp mustard seeds
• ½ tbsp cumin seeds
• ½ tsp chilli flakes
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• ½ tsp ground ginger
• 0,5l vegetable stock

Method:
1. Dry roast the spices in a non-stick frying pan until they begin to release their scent. Add the maftoul couscous and stir until all the grains are coated in the spices.
2. Add the vegetable stock and garlic and let it simmer on low heat until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.
3. Stir through the apricots, spring onion and mint.
4. Done!

For the onions:
• 4 red onions, cut in half
• Handful of chopped dried apricots
• Handful of almond flakes
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• ½ tsp harissa

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put the onions in an oven-proof dish and sprinkle some olive oil and salt and pepper over the top. Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the onions are soft.
2. Mix the other ingredients for the topping together in a bowl . Remove the onions from the oven and spoon a generous portion of the topping onto each onion half.
3. Put in the oven for a further 5 minutes until the crumble topping is golden brown.
4. Done!

For the sumac Greek yoghurt:
• 125ml Greek yoghurt
• 1 clove of garlic
• Salt
• 2 tbsp sumac

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients together.
2. Done!