Servings: Makes 8 medium-sized flat bread
Meshtah/A flat bread that is native to Southern Lebanon and one of the dishes that conjures up blissful memories of Ramadan and specifically Suhoor! Basically, two meals are served during Ramadan, Iftar and Suhoor! Suhoor is the morning meal that is served before the dawn.
I still remember the “Tabbal”, a man who walks down the streets in the middle of the night shouting: “Ya Nayem Wahed Eldayem” and beating with a drum to wake up people for prayers and Suhoor!! I missed those days and missed out our family gatherings around a Suhoor table.
The Suhoor table was filled with delicious flavors and exciting smells: manakeesh, foul, fried eggs, cheese, labne, tea, fruits, olives, etc… Among these delicacies, was the meshtah. A warm meshtah piping out of the oven dipped with labné and accompanied with a cup of tea was heavenly! And for a more indulging Suhoor, mom would prepare “muhallabiyyeha” (a Lebanese milk pudding), to accompany the meshtah!
Meshtah is normally made with flour and jreesh. If jreesh is not available in your household, then fine bulgur would be a good substitute. My mom would use a mix of both white flour and whole wheat flour! I personally, prefer to use white flour for making “meshtah”! Happy eating!
Jreesh: Both bulgur and Jreesh are derived from the same wheat grain. After harvesting, farmers in South Lebanon, spread the wheat kernels in thin layers to dry in the sun. The grains are then cracked between stones to create the jreesh. While bulgur is made by parboiling, drying then cracking the wheat. In other words jreesh is bulgur that has not been parboiled.
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup canola oil
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons jreesh/ fine bulgur
¾ or 1 cup warm full cream milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ tablespoons anise seeds
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Soak the jreesh in 1 cup of water for 5 hours and drain. If using bulgur, skip this step.
First off, remember to check out the expiration date on the package of yeast.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, salt, anise seed, sesame seeds, and jreesh/bulgur.
Add the warm milk and oil. Mix thoroughly to obtain a malleable dough (you may need more or less milk than called for. The amount of moisture in the flour determines how much more you need to add).
Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.
Divide the dough into 8 equal balls.
Sprinkle some flour on a countertop and slightly flatten each ball, using a rolling pin, to an oval that is 2.5 cm/1 inch thick and about 15 cm/ 6 inches long.
Transfer the 8 stretched flat dough to a slightly greased baking sheet. Set aside for 40 minutes, allowing the dough to rise and relax.
Just before baking, use your fingertips to dimple the dough all over.
Bake in a preheated oven to 200°C/400°F to a light golden color. Serve warm with a cup of tea and labneh or any other spreadable cheese! An ideal Suhoor or breakfast treat! Happy eating!!
Note:Both bulgur and Jreesh are derived from the same wheat grain. After harvesting, farmers in South Lebanon, spread the wheat kernels in thin layers to dry in the sun. The grains are then cracked between stones to create the jreesh. While bulgur is made by parboiling, drying then cracking the wheat. In other words jreesh is bulgur that has not been parboiled.
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