For every Lebanese expat, there is always the fond recollection of buying a kaak from a cart vendor, having him fill it up with zaatar or picon cheese and savoring its crunchy, sesame-laden goodness on the go.
Ever-enterprising Lebanese have now commercialized this street food and one can stop at a kaak store and order a kaak behind a counter, filled with fifty different things and grilled to order.
This is just what we did, stopping at the side of the highway at Abu Arab, the King of the Kaak. I ordered mine with red pepper paste and cheese and AnneLise ordered hers with labneh and olives; (then we did it again and she ordered hers like mine).
There is something about red pepper paste and cheese that cannot be topped; add some sesame seeds and a crunchy bread with the smell of mahlab (fenugreek) and you are in Lebanese food heaven.
- 1 pizza or flatbread dough or a pita bread, split, or anything that could be topped as a pizza
- equal amounts of tomato paste and red pepper paste
- 1 onion, chopped or grated (optional)
- a handful of sesame seeds, toasted
- grated white cheese, as needed
- olive oil, as needed
- Combine equal amounts of tomato paste and red pepper paste; slather on the dough or pita.
- Sprinkle as much grated cheese as you like; sprinkle sesame seeds; bake in a very hot oven till the cheese is melted and the dough is dry and crunchy. Serve.