The greatest Middle Eastern breakfast of all time awaits you…

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

I’ve been so spoiled living in a place that is home to the world’s greatest cuisines, available at your fingertips whenever you want it. Thank goodness that includes the very best of Middle Eastern food. At this point, I really and truly do not believe I can live anywhere that manakish is not readily available.

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

Best described as a Middle Eastern pizza, manakish consists of a foldable dough topped with an array of delectable toppings like zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meats and tomatoes. The dough is then cooked in a fire burning oven and comes out bubbling hot and is absolutely delicious. Aaaaaand que the salivation. These little pizzas are native to the Levant countries (Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria) and never, ever disappoint.

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

Dearborn, Michigan is home to one of the highest Arab populations in the U.S. and I was lucky enough to live there several years ago. Now, I have not been to any country in the Levant (much to my dismay) so obviously, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Dearborn, or anywhere I’ve lived has the greatest manakish of all time. However, I can tell you that based on my experience thus far, New Yasmeen Bakery in Dearborn has an insanely amazing array of manakish…for $1.50! How is that even possible? My personal favorite has got to be the manakish jibne (cheese).

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

I’m not going to assume that I could ever completely replicate these pockets of goodness at home but like, why not try? My mother in law brought me several pounds of zaatar the last time she was in town and I’ve been trying to think of ways to get through it before it gets dried out. Thyme ,oregano, sumac, sesame seeds and allspice make up this heaven sent spice mix. It sends a burst of flavor when roasted on top of the manakish dough. Wasting good zaatar just seems like a sin doesn’t it?

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

The manakish lahm bi ajin (minced meat) is made with tons of spices including allspice and paprika and is mixed with sauteed tomatoes and onions. The slow cooking process really infuses the spices into the meat and makes for a delicious manakish choice.

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

No Levantine breakfast is complete without a glass of mate (tea originating from Argentina)!

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

Halloumi cheese manakish may be my preference but aren’t all meals better when you can take bites of several flavors? I highly suggest making a batch of each of these toppings at the same time so you have options. If you’re hosting a brunch any time soon, I promise your guests will thank you.

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

Middle Eastern pizzas with zaatar, halloumi cheese, spiced meat and tomatoes

So y’all, a delicious Middle Eastern breakfast is only a few minutes away! These guys stay in the fridge well for a few days and make the perfect snack. How do you prefer your manakish? If you have a suggestion for amazing manakish in Toronto, I’m all ears! And if you have a chance to try these out, I would love to hear about it!


Manakish (Middle Eastern Pizzas)

Total Time: 2 hours

Yield: 10 mini manakish

Manakish (Middle Eastern Pizzas)

Ingredients

    Lahm Bi Ajin Manakish Ingredients
  • 1 lb. minced beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp minced parsley
  • 1 tbsp minced cilantro
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small tomatoes, minced
  • 1 hot chili, minced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Cheese Manakish
  • 1 cup shredded halloumi cheese
  • Zaatar
  • 1/2 cup zaatar spice mix
  • Tomato and zaatar
  • 1 cup heirloum tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp zaatar
  • Dough
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Instructions

    Dough Instructions
  1. Combine yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl. Let the mixture sit until yeast is activated and begins to foam. About 10 minutes.
  2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the yeast mixture, oil and mix with your hands. Kneed the dough for a few minutes and set aside in a well oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm area for 1.5 hours.
  3. While the dough is rising, make the lahm bi ajin. Fry the onion and garlic until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the meat, salt, pepper, tomato paste and herbs and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  4. After 1.5 hours, remove the dough and place on a floured surface. Break the dough into 10 small balls and roll into small disks using a rolling pin. Repeat with all balls of dough. Place the disks onto a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
  5. When disks have risen slightly, begin adding toppings. For the zaatar manakish, brush disks of dough with olive oil and sprinkle zaatar on top.
  6. For the cheese, brush with olive oil and heavily sprinkle with halloumi.
  7. For the tomato, brush with olive oil, place chopped tomatoes and sprinkle with zaatar.
  8. For the lahm bi ajin, brush with olive oil and heavily spread the meat on top.
  9. Cook in the oven at 425F for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
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