Za’atar Bread & Labneh

Za’atar Manakish or Zaatar Bread is a simple Arabic recipe – which is basically a kind of flat bread baked with Zaatar and olive oil spread over it.

When I lived in Kuwait, my dad and I would go to a bakery and get this bread and it was freshly baked right in front of us. I would eat one in the car on my way back home. It is so unique in flavor and is soo Yum!

Zaatar is a mixture that is made out of mostly dried thyme, oregano and sumac….there are many variations to it that consists of sesame seed (my favorite), cumin, coriander, fennel seeds etc.

You can buy it at a Middle Eastern grocery store or maybe in the ethnic section of the regular grocery store, I get my supply from Kuwait. You just have to mix the zaatar (powder) with some good quality olive oil and smear it on the bread before baking it.

The crunch of the bread depends on its thickness. The ones I used to eat in Kuwait were a lot thicker than the ones I made at home and also a lot bigger in size. The ones that I made, turned out to be on the crunchier side….but I prefer them to be a little soft. So the next time I am going to make them bigger and thicker, but of-course if you like a  crunchier bite then feel free to go with this size and shape.

You can serve these bread with hummus or labneh. I made some labneh to go with it.

Labneh is a yogurt dip made with mint, garlic and olive oil. You can use Greek Yogurt for this recipe or just drain the water out of the plain yogurt so that it turns thick and creamy.

For making the yogurt thick all you have to do is place the desired amount of plain yogurt in a fine mesh sieve and let the water drain in a bowl (placed underneath the sieve) for a few hours. After a few hours you will get yogurt with thick and creamy consistency.

Also, for the garlic in this recipe….I warmed it up a little bit with the olive oil a few minutes before making the labneh. I am not a big fan of the raw garlic flavor – heating it with olive oil takes the edge off of it and makes it a bit sweeter rather than pungent. This step however is optional, if you don’t mind the raw garlic flavor then just use it as it is.

serving size makes about 8 medium size brad

cooking time 1 hour + fermentation time

Things You Will Need:

For Zaatar Bread

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup water, lukewarm

1 cup zaatar

1/2 cup olive oil

Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup water and let it sit for about 15 minutes. In a large bowl mix flour and salt and give it a quick stir. Add yeast and using your hands start kneading everything. Add 1 tablespoon water at a time while kneading the dough till it all comes together. You don’t want a sticky dough. Transfer the dough into lightly oiled container, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm spot for 2 hours. After 2 hours, the dough should have doubled in size.

Mix zaatar with olive oil, keep aside.

Deflate the dough and place on a floured surface, fold it using your hands a few times. Preheat the oven at 350F. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and roll each of them out into desired thickness and size. Smear a tablespoon of the zaatar & olive oil mixture on each of the bread. Spread it using the back of the spoon in a circular motion leaving about half an inch from the side of the bread. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes depending on how crunchy you like it. Serve warm with Labneh.

For Labneh

1 cup plain yogurt, drained

1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

1 tbs dry mint

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbs olive oil

Heat the garlic in olive oil for a minute and let is cool till it reaches the room temperature. This is to take the edge off of the garlic. You can skip this step if you don’t mind the flavor of raw garlic. Add all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Chill in the fridge for an hour before serving.