Manaqish or manakish are savory pastries popular in the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean) region.  My mother in law, a master of the Levant kitchen, was the one who first introduced me to the making of za'atar manaqish. They are the perfect make-ahead snack, appetizer, or even brunch!

Za'atar Manaqish pastry garnished with cheese, tomato and radish

What exactly are manaqish?

Manaqish are almost the Middle Eastern equivalent of homemade flatbread pizzas. The word Manaqish is rooted in the Arabic verb naqash, which literally means to sculpt, or carve out. After the dough has been rolled flat, it is pressed by the fingertips to sculpt little dips for the topping to sit in.

Traditionally, manaqish like we have here are made from smaller portions of dough left over from daily baking. Classic manaqish are typically with one of three toppings: minced lamb, cheese, or a mixture of za'atar spice and olive oil.

Manaqish with a bottle of Za'atar spice, tomatoes and olives

How to serve Za'atar manaqish

Vegan za'atar manaqish are the most popular in many parts of the Levant. They are often served warm as breakfast with homemade labneh or feta cheese, which compliment the earthy bitterness of za'atar spice. Olives and fresh garden vegetables--tomatoes, cucumbers, and radish-- are usually a part of the meal.

(Remember, sugar-laden breakfast cereals are a North American industrial presumption. In many parts of the world, breakfast is a warm, savory meal.)

Manaqish  topped with Za/atar spice and olive oil

But if having these for breafast or brunch isn't something you would entertain, Za'atar manaqish also make a convenient afternoon snack. I often serve them mezze next to little plates like hummus and tabouli.

This recipe makes eight manaqish that are about 5 inches in diameter, so they are filling for a meal. But if you plan to serve them as an appetizer, you can make 12 or so smaller manaqish with the same recipe.

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Za'atar Manaqish (Manakish) Recipe | The Mediterranean Dish. Middle Eastern homemade flatbread with olive oil and Za'atar spice. Easy vegan recipe that's perfect for snack, appetizer, or even brunch. See the full recipe on TheMediterraneanDish.com #mediterraneandiet #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandietrecipe #manakish #flatbread

Za'atar Manaqish Recipe


Description

Manaqish or manakish are savory pastries popular in the Levant (Eastern Mediterranean) region.  My mother in law, a master of the Levant kitchen, was the one who first introduced me to the making of za'atar manaqish. They are the perfect make-ahead snack, appetizer, or even brunch!


Ingredients

Scale

For Dough

  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast (one package active dry yeast)
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, more for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil

For Za'atar Topping

Serve with

  • Fresh garden vegetables (tomato, cucumbers, radish)
  • Olives
  • Homemade labneh or feta cheese (omit if vegan)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine water, sugar and yeast. Set aside for 10 minutes to foam.
  2. Make the dough. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and olive oil.  Work the mixture with your hands. Now, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast and water mixture. Stir until soft dough forms.
  3. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until dough is elastic, smooth, and no longer sticky (as you knead, if dough is too sticky for you, you can sprinkle just a tiny bit of flour to help it).
  4. Form dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with damp cloth and place in a warm spot (inside a warmed but turned-off oven is a good place). Leave to rise for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  5. Punch dough down. Knead briefly and form into 8 small balls. Arrange on lightly floured surface, cover again and leave to rise another 30 minutes.
  6. Prepare the za'atar topping. While dough is rising, mix together the za'atar spice and olive oil in a bowl.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a large baking sheet in oven while heating.
  8. Form za'atar manaqish. Lightly oil the heated baking sheet and set near you. Flatten the dough into small discs about 5 inches in diameter. With your finger tips, make indentations in discs and add about 1 tablespoon za'atar topping in the middle of each disc, leave a narrow boarder around. Arrange discs in prepared oiled baking sheet (use two sheets if needed, do not crowd the manaqish).
  9. Bake in 400 degrees F heated-oven for 7 to 8 minutes or until the dough is slightly browned on bottom and edges (za'atar topping will remain liquidy at this point). Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes or so, the topping will dry and settle into dough.
  10. Serve za'atar manaqish warm or at room temprature with assorted vegetables, olives, feta cheese, or homemade labneh.

Notes

  • To serve as mezze simply portion the dough into smaller balls, form smaller discs about 3 inches in diameter instead. You should be able to make 12 or more manaqish. When you bake them, watch the oven closely as they will bake quicker.
  • Make-ahead instructions You can make these a week or two ahead and simply freeze them in freezer bags (I like to double the freezer bags to prevent freezer burns). Take as many of the manaqish as you need out to thaw at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Warm in low-temperature oven. If you don't remember to take them out in advance, you can always simply heat in the oven from frozen.
  • Recommended for this recipe our Greek Private Reserve extra virgin olive oil (from organically grown and processed Koreneiki olives) and our all-natural za'atar spice blend. We highly recommend the 3-pack za'atar spice bundle. 
  • SAVE! Try our Mediterranean Ultimate Spice Bundle! Or create your own 6-pack of all-natural or organic spices.  Visit our store to browse our spices, olive oils and bundles!
  • Prep Time: 2.5 hours
  • Cook Time: 8 mins
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Mediterranean

Keywords: Za'atar Manaqish, Manaqish, Savory pastries, pastry, Levant pastry

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Za'atar Manaqish (Manakish) Recipe | The Mediterranean Dish. Middle Eastern homemade flatbread with olive oil and Za'atar spice. Easy vegan recipe that's perfect for snack, appetizer, or even brunch. See the full recipe on TheMediterraneanDish.com #mediterraneandiet #mediterraneanrecipe #mediterraneandietrecipe #manakish #flatbread

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. I love zaaatar bread and everything in the recipe was easy and perfect to make. The only problem I faced was that my bread became hard and crispy instead of soft as within 8 minutes my bread didn’t turn brown so I kept it little longer in the oven. Also please specify which rack of oven ( low, middle or top). Thanks

    1. I had the same thing happen: the edges did not start to color after some 8 minutes in the oven so I left bread in a couple more. When I took it out it was HARD. I mean, quite hard. Even dipping it in a hearty bean/pork/veggie soup didn't help. Not sure we can even use it though I put it in a plastic baggie to see. Very disappointed. Plus 10 minutes kneading was very, very difficult for arthritic hands.

  2. Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe!
    I've tried out various recipes in my search to recreate the za'atar manoushe that I remember from my childhood in Lebanon, and this is by far the best one I've come across! I'll be coming back to it again and again 🙂

  3. Hi Suzy,
    Thank you for all the yummy recipes. I tried a couple and they all turned out great!
    Concerning this recipe, do I have to use unbleached flour or can I use bleached instead?

  4. If I am making this ahead of time, could I prepare, cook, and freeze JUST the manaqish discs and then add the za'atar and toppings before reheating the discs?

    1. That could work, but I am not sure you'll have the best result. The za'atar mixture added to the discs before they are baked kinda sinks in and gives them a great taste. I don't know how it would be if you baked the discs first.

  5. Hey Suzi, thanks for the recipe! I've just made this and ended up with a lot of extra Za'atar + olive oil sauce. This is my first time cooking with Za'atar, do you have any suggestions for how I can use the rest of the sauce? I'd hate to have it go to waste.

    1. Wonderful, Brendan! The extra za'atar and olive oil is great for dipping! Just grab your favorite bread 🙂 You can also use it to dress up a salad or some grilled veggies!

  6. Hi Suzy, I am gonna try it your way, but why didn’t you use cling wrap instead of a damp towel to cover the bowl?

    1. I do it the old fashioned way, but you can use plastic wrap if you like. Essentially you need to incubate the dough in the bowl so it rises appropriately and the top does not get crusty. You can use cling wrap if you like, but sometimes, if the bowl is not large enough and the dough rises too far up, it may stick to the wrap.

  7. I just made this today!!!!
    Suzy’s instructions are really easy to follow! I’m very much a beginner at making bread, and I’ve had a few disasters in the past, so I didn’t have super high expectations for myself. But I was sooooo impressed how this za’atar manaqish turned out! Super soft and delicious!

  8. Delicious and fun! Loved making this from scratch plus it made my dinner look so beautiful! I also appreciated the education you gave me. Explored Levantine cuisine a bit more - had no idea how many countries are included in the Levant “region” thank u! <3 <3 <3

  9. Hi Suzy... I am so glad I found your site! I was looking for recipes that had za'atar seasoning as an ingredient. Low and behold! I found a much loved, favorite childhood recipe! The GLORIOUS, MOUTHWATERING, TUMMY PLEASING manquish!!!
    As a 14 year old, I lived in Beirut and boarded at a girls school. Often (but not often enough for me) a street vendor would come by in the mornings and sell hot manaquish! The memory of the taste and smell thrills me even today, at 66 yrs old!
    Now, I have tried using different pitas breads over the years to re-create that heaven... and although tasty (of course! It included za'atar), I have never been truly impressed. I recently tried naan bread and altho somewhat better. I still feel the "true" flavor of Lebanese bread lacking. I don't know where exactly your roots are, but will this bread recipe be closer do you think?
    Thank you in advance, and I'm sorry to use up so much space! You may certainly remove the post if you need to, but please try to let me know what you think about the flavor. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Cathy! So glad you found my site! I hope you'll give this one a try. I do think it will be closer to what you remember from your childhood days. I'm Egyptian, but my mother in law who is Jordanian was the one who taught me to make this.

  10. Does the proving time change if you use rapid-rise yeast? Or should I still leave it for a whole hour and a half?

    1. Nashwa, it's best if you use the yeast mentioned, but I think it should work out either way.

  11. PERFECT. I tried this out and this recipe really really works. Absolutely recommend this. Thank u so so much Suzy!!!!!

  12. Hi Suzy,
    looks great and I'm eager to try it !
    Quick question : how many manaqish can be made with this recipe ?
    Thanks
    David

    1. Hi David. I am so sorry to just now see your question, depending on the size of the manaquish, it could make 8 or more of them.

  13. Suzy, how will this turned out with store bought pita / flatbreads? I have an amazing middle easters bakery around the corner where I always get my breads and would not mind skipping the dough making process 🙂

    1. Hey Tom, see if you could by the dough (uncooked) from the Middle Eastern bakery and then follow recipe from there. Enjoy!

  14. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I'd never heard of manaqish before, but my goodness, am I glad to have learned about it now, because this looks fantastic! Something about flatbreads are excellent in any culture. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, I'm glad I learned something today!

      1. Hi Suzy...
        You recipie sounds fabulous. Im going to try it out tomorrow. I bake professionally so wanted to introduce this here in Mumbai. Please tell me if i can use any other toppings apart from zaatar.
        Thanks in advance.

      2. Wonderful, Renuka. If you'd like to try another option with a different topping, take a look at my Lahmacun recipe with a meat topping.