Cheese Manakish, cheesy, salty, and the favourite breakfast, appetizer, or snack in the Middle East. It's perfect for those times you're craving a pizza but want something a bit different. So let's whip up these delicious pies for yourself or a crowd, it'll be sure to please any and all!
Did you just say, Pizza for BREAKFAST? Breakfast, really?
Yes, it's true! Manakish, are one of the most common breakfast dishes in the Middle East, along with Falafels and Ful Medammas and Labneh. Middle Easterners from the Levant(Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Turkey and Iraq) often grab Manakish pies on the go from the local bakery or enjoy them at home with tea, pickled vegetable, fresh herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and olives.
In the west, we think of pizza as just for lunch or dinner. If you're like me as a teenager, pizza for breakfast was a great idea that your parent cringed at! Let’s be serious here for just a moment, who doesn’t like pizza? I honestly have never met anyone in my life, who doesn’t love a delicious pizza just oozing with cheese! Why not enjoy it at all times of the day?
The Cheese Manakish gives us the crave-worthy cheese pulls, however, it's much lighter tasting and it's also accompanied by plenty of fresh vegetables and herbs. which any parent, would be more than happy to see their teenager mowing down on first thing in the morning.
What is a Cheese Manakish?
The Cheese Manakish is like a cheese pizza without sauce! It's often made with a salty cheese called Akawi. This cheese may be a bit difficult to find or too expensive to buy for most, however, I recommend trying it at least once if you can.
Good news! You don't need to have the akawi cheese to have an authentic tasting cheese Manakish. A mixture of feta and mozzarella does the trick to achieve a salt gooey pie. If all you have is mozzarella or just you hate feta cheese you can add a bit of salt to the mozzarella cheese. I've had pleasant results with this method.
Fun Fact: This recipe has a slightly different pronunciation or completely different name in every country it's made. The most common names are Man'oushe, Manakish, Manakeesh, and fatyer. In Ottawa (where I live), we call it cheese pie, so if you notice, I like to use the word pie, that's why.
What You'll need
- Mozzarella cheese. Traditionally man'oush is made with a salty cheese called Akwai. This cheese can be difficult to find unless you live in an area with a large Arab community. Mozzarella is a great substitute; even the man'oush stores use it to help reduce the cost.
- Akawie cheese. Adding the akawie cheese gives this manakish its authentic salty taste but if you can't access the akawie cheese you can substitute it with feta cheese. If you want to leave out the feta and akawie, then just add ½ teaspoon of sea salt to the mozzarella.
- Dough recipe. You can use the dough recipe included in the recipe card or you use my Ultimate Dough Recipe. Both recipes are perfect for manakish. These recipes will make 12 manakish, you can reduce the amount of cheese for this recipe and make other flavours like the za'atar
How to Make Your Manakish!
- Make your dough. Use the dough recipe included in the recipe card or try my foolproof simple dough!
- Prepare the topping. Mix together the two cheeses and set them aside until ready to assemble.
- Shape the manakish. Divide the dough into 6 balls (45g). Roll the dough into a circle (just like pizza)
- Pile on the topping. Top with a generous helping of cheese.
- Bake! Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.
- EAT! This is the best part! Don't forget to share with a friend.
Storage and freezer instructions
Fridge: Place the manakish into an airtight container. Refrigerate for 4-5 days.
Freeze: Place a small piece of parchment paper between the manakish and place them into an airtight container or a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 3 months.
Reheat: Warm up the manakish in the oven (or microwave) before serving again or thaw them in the oven and enjoy!
More Middle Eastern Breakfast ideas Recipes
- 1½ cup mozzeralla cheese
- 1½ cup Akawie cheese*
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 cup warm water
Prepare the dough
- Add the flour, yeast, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Mix well, then add the oil to the flour mixture. Knead the oil into the flour mixture to ensure the oil is coating all of the flour⏤you're done when the flour holds its shape when squeezed in your palm.
- Add the warm water to the flour and mix then knead until the dough is soft a silky. Place the kneaded dough into an oiled bowl and cover for 30 minutes to rise.
Prepare the Manakish
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line two 9x13 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Mix together the feta and the mozzarella in a bowl and set aside.
- Once the dough has risen then separate the dough into 12 (54g) balls, then roll the balls, cover with a clean towel and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Once the dough had rested, then roll into thin circles. They should be about 10" in size. Transfer the dough rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet. You'll need to use 2 baking sheets to fit them all or wait for some to bake then add the rest.
- Place the cheese mixture on the dough and make sure to cover the entire surface, leaving a ¼ inch border. Add a sprinkle of nigella seeds onto the cheese.
- Place the baking sheets in the oven on the bottom rack and bake for 12-15 minutes until the bottom is lightly golden.
- Remove baked manakish and place on a platter and cover with a towel or plastic bag to keep them soft until serving