In my journey around the world on a culinary tour, my next stop was in Jordan for J. While it was overdose of geography and history rolled in one when I was reading about the different Arabic countries and their cuisine, I decided I would simply stick to Jordan. I had earlier wanted to do Japan, then seeing how there was hardly anything that I would be able to make, decided to settle for something that was simple.
Again reading fanatically around these cuisines, I realized there are many common dishes and ingredients used across regions. When I was thinking about the sub theme, I almost settled on Kid Friendly dishes, hoping my kids would love this exposure to different countries. Of course in the end, they didn't really know they were eating anything new as I was mostly making safe dishes.
Unconsciously I also ended up making desserts/sweets. The day I made this dish, I was also making three other countries, mostly desserts. So it was a relief that this was a bread.
When I landed up with Manqish / Managish / Manakish / the Jordanian Herbed Flatbread, I had to get Zaatar. Many years ago when I had met couple of Bloggers in Madras, we met up in a Lebanese restaurant. That was my first experience eating their food and I enjoyed pretty much everything that was ordered. Infact we had ordered a pizza sort with spinach and we went for a repeat order as well.
So my blogger friend ordered Zaatar from their kitchen and I didn't bother as I knew I might not really use it. Forward the clock to couple of years later, Pradnya sent me a huge box with lots of goodies. She had packed some Zaatar, Sumac, couple of her own home blend spice mixes. Her homemade blends were so good, I had used up everything. Except some the Zaatar and Sumac were still lying in the freezer. I was feeling even bad that I completely forgot and asked where I could get it locally.
Veena was so kind enough to share some with me and I even asked how long this spice stays good. Pradnya wrote back saying it should be good and well I was happy hearing that. I went back to check on my stuff and found it good. So this bread was the one that finally got out Zaatar. Here are couple of sites I enjoyed reading about Zaatar, this and this.
To make the Jordanian Herbed Flabread or the Manaqish, you would need Zatar. Zatar is a Middle Eastern spice mix, used extensively in different dishes. You can find it being made as bread and as a dip along with Olive Oil.
Zaatar is a spice blend made with a mix of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds. As with any spice mixes, few other ingredients are added or omitted. Some add chickpeas or replace with hummus, which then becomes Dubkkah. Za'atar, the mixture is considered a staple food in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. This spice mix is generally mixed with olive oil and is spread on breads, rolled up in pita bread or just simply used as a dip.
So for J it is Jordan. I must say this is an acquired taste.
If you are using active dry yeast, take it in a bowl with sugar and warm water. Stir and keep it covered. Wait for the yeast to foam and then use. If instant yeast, it can be added directly to the flour before kneading.
In a wide bowl, take the flour, salt and add in the yeast mix or instant yeast. Mix everything well and slowly add water to knead to a soft pliable dough.
Keep it in a covered bowl for an hour or till it doubles.
Mix the zaatar with olive oil and lemon juice. When the dough doubles, punch it down and dust with flour. Roll out discs of equal sizes, brush the zaatar mix on the top and bake in a pre heated oven for 8 - 10 mins or till the dough is completely cooked. Serve warm with dip.
The bread tasted good on it's own. Maybe the right sort of dip would make all the difference.