Tuesday, 22 October 2013 22:16

Manoushe Zaatar - My love affair with Lebanese thyme pizza

My love affair with Manoushe Zaatar started before I actually knew what it was - a fling so to speak. It was way back when I lived in Burkina Faso, West Africa, working in an International/American school. Each time we had a school function the biggest concern and most important question was, ‘Is Nada coming?’ Yes, Nada was a lovely Lebanese lady, but Nada also brought those tasty little mini pizzas with this amazing spice mix on top… Manoushe Zaatar! Surpassed only by the  wonderful West African food, a vividly delicious memory of my time there.

Reuniting with my love Manoushe Zaatar

Then, many years later, I went to Beirut, on a one day stopover, during a cruise… my main ‘concern’ was once again: food! I had looked up how to get to the Armenian neighborhood known for its small town atmosphere and little street markets. I had my camera and yes, I had a ball. My love - Manoushe Zaatar - was everywhere: in every street corner, inside the most unlikely little ‘shops’, one every road side café’s plastic table. Heaven!

And each time I took a picture the friendly chefs/shop owners insisted I tried one - I finally had to stop taking picture for fear of bursting - almost like a Manoushe Zaatar overdose. I loved it and obviously the only thing I was interested in bringing back home – Zaatar!


Zaatar is a spice mix which is never missing from any Lebanese or even Middle Eastern household. You can also make it yourself by mixing the following: 1/4 cup sumac, 2 tablespoons thyme, 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds, 2 tablespoons marjoram, 2 tablespoons oregano, 1 teaspoon coarse salt.


Man’oushe is the authentic Lebanese breakfast for all classes of society - especially topped with thyme or cheese. Throughout the day you’ll then find toppings like minced meat, chicken, tomato sauce… One can find a Manoushe literally anywhere, from the poorest neighborhoods to the most affluent of Beirut’s suburbs. Inexpensive and delicious, it is one of Lebanon’s common denominators.


Manoushe actually means engraved and I found this lovely piece of information on a Lebanese bakery’s website: “Man’oushe” reminds most Lebanese of a childhood when every child would race his siblings to the neighborhood “forn” (traditional oven) with a bowl of home mixed “zaatar” (thyme) and olive oil to get to engrave a pattern with their fingers into the dough from which the word “Man’oushe” (engrave or sculpt) comes. Maybe I should introduce my guests at Mary’s Dinner Club to this ‘ritual’?

The making of Manoushe Zaatar is really simple and one of the most satisfying baking processes I know.


Ingredients for 8-10 Manoushe Zaatar

  • 250 grams flour
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • warm water
  • Salt

Directions for making Manoushe Zaatar

  • Sift flour into a large bowl, add sugar and a dash of salt
  • Dissolve yeast in some warm water and add
  • Add 150 - 200 ml warm water and yogurt and knead briefly
  • Add olive oil and knead into a smooth and elastic dough
  • Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for about 40 minutes
  • Form into 8-10 balls and roll out on a floured surface
  • Brush olive oil on top and sprinkle generously with Zaatar
  • Bake for about 10 minutes at 180°C

If you’d like to watch first how to make your Manoushe Zaatar, here a very short and easy to follow demonstration (not using yogurt for the dough)

If you want to find out more about Lebanese cuisine, you may like this ‘Oldie but goodie’ Lebanese cuisine with a great selection of traditional Lebanese recipes and short and simple instructions

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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