A Taste of Lebanon via Paris

My introduction to Lebanese avenue meals was at an out of doors market in Paris, after I had simply moved there within the early days of the 21st century. As I might be taught, Lebanese savory treats are frequent at Parisian markets, an ideal boon to the hungry shopper.

You get to the market by 10 a.m., when all the pieces is contemporary, glistening and appealingly displayed. After perusing the choices and filling your bag with the produce that might be dinner, you could really feel a bit peckish. Then you discover the aroma of little flatbreads wafting from a sizzling griddle, and also you head to the Lebanese stand.

The typical griddle for baking these flatbreads is a superheated iron dome known as a saj. The baker rolls out a skinny spherical of soppy dough and rapidly slaps it in opposition to the recent iron.

The flatbread, flipped as soon as, cooks for a couple of minutes till frivolously browned and pliable. Then, nonetheless heat, it’s brushed generously with the Middle Eastern spice mix known as za’atar, which is combined with olive oil to make a paste.

The dough is separated into 2 1/2-ounce items.Credit scoreAndrew Scrivani for The New York TimesEvery bit is rolled out right into a 6-inch spherical.Credit scoreAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

It is a pleasure to eat one in every of these breads, known as ma’noushe, whether or not on the market, or on the best way house.

An historical combination, za’atar usually accommodates a number of kinds of wild thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and salt. The mixture is extraordinarily satisfying: The wild thyme is natural, the sumac bitter and the sesame nutty, and there’s simply sufficient salt to make it the proper seasoning for any variety of elements and dishes.

You can discover genuine za’atar at Middle Eastern groceries or on-line spice retailers. (Or make a model at house, utilizing toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme, marjoram and oregano, including sumac and salt to style.) The combination can differ significantly all through the Levant. Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and Israeli za’atar differ in coloration and pungency, relying on the steadiness of untamed thyme to sumac, and different spices, like cumin or fennel seed, are generally added.

Quite a few spices, in addition to za’atar, are used to taste the flatbread.Credit scoreAndrew Scrivani for The New York Times

A easy approach to get pleasure from za’atar is sprinkled on contemporary bread that has been dipped in fruity olive oil, but it surely’s straightforward to make za’atar flatbreads. I name for baking them on a sheet pan, however you would use a pizza stone or sizzling cast-iron skillet, or prepare dinner them on a charcoal grill.

For a grander model with out way more effort, you may make a meaty topping with spiced floor lamb that’s briefly cooked with sautéed onions. Baked on a za’atar-dabbed dough with crumbled feta and some pine nuts, it’s a bit extra pizza-like.

As your kitchen fills with the scent of savory baking, you’ll be able to daydream a few journey to Beirut, with a stopover in Paris.

Recipe: Lamb Flatbread With Za’atar

More flatbreads from The New York TimesCookingLamb Flatbread With Za’atarMarch 19, 2019The Stuff of Great Grilled FlatbreadsAug. 15, 2014Finessing FlatbreadApril 17, 2009

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