Manakish Nominated for UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List
By: Souria Dabbousi / Arab America Contributing Writer
UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List is a program by UNESCO that started in 2001 to recognize and protect various cultures and practices that cannot be touched. On that list, Italy is known for its pizza, France is known for their baguettes, Jordan is known for their Mansaf, Türkiye is known for its Turkish coffee and the list goes on naming oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, and festive events from around the world specific to that country.
Greater Syria is widely known for its Manakish or Manoushe (singular). It is a middle eastern flatbread topped with either za’atar, cheese, meat, kishik, or an onion and tomato filling.
It has been reported that Manakish has been nominated to be added the UNESCO’S Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
History of Manakish ( مناقيش)
The origin of manakish dates back to the 10th century. Stone wheels would be made to crush wheat into flour in order for the bread to be made. Traditionally, women would bake the dough in the morning using a communal oven. For breakfast, they would make small portions of dough and top it with different types of toppings.
Although many believe that manakish can’t be traced back to early times and is a recent dish that has become widely popular, ingredients used in manakish are ones that have been in Lebanon for thousands of years. Ingredients like olive oil, za’atar, and bread have all been used since around 4500 BC. Although it is frequently referred to as “Lebanese pizza,” the dish’s name originally means “decorated” or “stamped,” which described the method in which the dough was pressed using the tips of one’s fingers to create a decorative design. Manakish is often associated with being food for the poor, but it is enjoyed by all classes of society. It is recommended to pair it with tomatoes, cucumbers, mint leaves, olives, a yogurt drink, or a cup of hot tea.
- Olive oil
- Toppings of choice: za’atar, cheese, meat, kishik, tomato, and onion (muhamara)
- In a bowl combine the yeast with warm water and set aside.
- Combine 1 cup of flour, the yeast mixture, and sugar. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes
- Add remaining flour, olive oil, and salt and kneed dough for 3-4 minutes.
- Cover and let it rise for 30-40 minutes. Once risen, divide into medium-sized balls, approximately 10.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
Spread the ball and into a thin circle and top it with your favorite toppings. For za’atar manakish, mix the za’atar with olive oil and spread it onto the dough. For cheese manakish: Akawi, Mozzarella, and Feta cheese works best. Feta cheese is best when mixed with Mozzarella or Akawi.
Check out Arab America’s blog!