- Meghan Tansey Whitton
Za’atar Labneh Veggie Man’ouche
Saj House 19 Alma Crescent
“It’s pretty special—my dad opened with the hope one of his kids would take it over one day,” says Chirine Issa of the family business, Saj House, which she took over after her father passed away suddenly last year. “I had big shoes to fill, but I’m sort of trying to take the business to another level.” The 25 seater restaurant and takeaway has been bringing big flavours to Fairview for 14 years via its Middle Eastern menu, which at any given time includes 12 to 14 flatbreads. “They’re very hearty and flavoursome. And so unique in flavour. You’ll rarely ever taste two that taste the same,” says Issa of the herby “superfood” that she says works for any meal of the day though traditionally, it’s breakfast. This one though, is her personal favourite for its wide appeal, veggie-friendliness, flavour and texture. “I’ve never had anyone try it and not like it.”
Ingredients Flatbread (man’ouche) dough 300 g (2 ½ cups) plain flour 75 ml (2.7 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil 150 ml (5.4 fl oz) warm water 2 tsp yeast powder 1 tsp sea salt
Za’atar topping 3 tablespoons za’atar mix (Buy it pre-mixed at Middle Eastern grocery stores or you can make it yourself: 2 tbsp thyme, 1 tbsp sumac, 1 tbsp oregano, 1 tbsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp salt.)
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Buy it pre-made at Middle Eastern grocery stores or make it yourself: Strain some plain yogurt through cheesecloth until it is thick in texture, then add salt as desired a bundle of fresh mint 2 tomatoes diced olives 1 cucumber
Method For the man’ouche dough In a big bowl combine the flour, the salt and the yeast powder. Make a well in the middle and pour in the olive oil and the warm water. With a silicon spatula, bring the flour in from the sides and mix it well with the liquid. Keep mixing until it all starts to come together, then keep on mixing with your clean hands and knead it until you have a smooth, not sticky, dough.
Cover the bowl with a cloth and place in a warm place of the house for at least half an hour until the dough has doubled its volume.
Remove the dough from the bowl and place it in a clean flour-dusted surface. Divide the dough into 4 parts, knead it a bit with your hands and, with the help of a rolling pin (lightly dusted in flour), extend the 4 man’ouche gradually flattening them out.
For the za’atar topping In a small bowl mix the za’atar and the olive oil. With the help of a spoon, spread the mix on top of each of the 4 man’ouche.
For the final preparation Preheat the oven to 200° C (400°F). Bake in the oven for 7 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let them cool for a minute before spreading the labneh generously on top of the zaa’tar.
Finally, you can add your veggies of choice on top of the labneh or you can enjoy them on the side after every bite.