Man’oushé is the king of Lebanese street foods. Variously described as a pie, a bread loaf or even a pizza, this famed flatbread – of which there are many different permutations – is cherished by all people, right across Lebanon, from affuent Beirut suburbs to poorer rural villages.
The word man’oushé comes from na’sh, a term used by local bakers that refers to the way their fingertips engrave the dough. It is a regular feature of the Lebanese family breakfast table, but is so versatile that it can be worked into pretty much any meal. It comes savoury or sweet, smothered in meats, covered with vegetables, sprinkled with sugars and stuffed with multiple flavours.
It’s also great for eating on the go. You’ll find the chewy-crisp pies, wrapped in greaseproof paper, offered by almost every street vendor in the country. To take a bite of man’oushé is to taste Lebanon itself. Lebanese man’oushé (Shutterstock)
Fresh thyme man’oushé Serves 4
For the dough:
360g white bread flour
150g cake flour (or plain flour)
1 tsp active dry yeast
300ml lukewarm water
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the topping:
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 small red or green hot
peppers, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme
250ml lemon juice
120ml olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
1. Prepare dough. Dissolve yeast in water and set aside; sift fl our and salt into bowl and stir in sugar. Gradually pour yeast, water and oil into the flour and mix. Knead to make soft dough, continuing until smooth and elastic. Place dough in large bowl dusted with extra flour. Cover bowl with damp towel and leave to proof for 1.5-2hrs. Pinch off dough to form four balls and leave to rise for 30 minutes before flattening each ball into a circle with your palm and a rolling pin.
2. Spread circles onto a baking pan; preheat oven to 200°C.
3. In a bowl, mix tomatoes, onion, peppers, thyme, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.
4. Using the back of a spoon, spread the topping over the prepared dough, leaving half an inch of exposed dough at edges. Bake for 7-10 minutes on bottom shelf until edges are slightly golden. Liked this recipe? Buy Man’oushé: Inside the Lebanese Street Corner Bakery by Barbara Abdeni Massaad (Interlink Books, RRP £33). Main image: Man’oushé flatbread (Shutterstock) Words by Alex Gregg