Flatbread with bulgur (Meshtah)

 

mishtah

Is is only recently that I have realized how remarkably diverse Lebanese food truly is. 

Take this bread. Never had it until this past year; it is a Southern bread and gets distributed in Beirut during the Holy Month of Ramadan in all the stores. One friend in the neighborhood took me to his neighbor;  her meshtah, she claimed, had won many raves. She offered to show me how she made hers but had to move quickly back to her home village. I started experimenting; my daughter’s friend Hiba told me: The texture is like a pizza, not sweet, a bit hard, and used to pick up labneh and an olive. The key is the bread is stretched out to look like a flatbread and sprinkled with some sesame seeds when sold in the stores. It has a faint anise flavor. 

Found a great recipe for it in Anissa Helou’s book Savory Baking from the Mediterranean, filled with spices and made with whole wheat flour and jreesh (which is a type of semolina). One of these days, I’ll have to head South and bake it with my friend’s neighbor; she uses white flour and bulgur she said. I guess many versions abound. 

mishtah w:zaatar

This is my own version. 

1  cups whole-wheat flour

1 cup white flour 00 (strong bread flour)

1/2 cup bulgur (fine #1)

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp anise powder (or seeds)

2 tsp dry instant yeast

1 Tbsp. oil

1 cup dry toasted sesame seeds

enough water to make a soft dough (about 1 cup warm)

 1. Combine the flours, salt, anise powder, yeast, sugar, bulgur in a mixer bowl; add the oil and mix well. Add the water and mix till the dough forms and is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a bowl, coat it in oil and let it rise in a warm place for a couple of hours. 

2. De-gas the dough; divide into three parts; stretch each part into a long flatbread, about 12 inches long; sprinkle with sesame seeds; cover with a damp towel; let the flatbreads rest for a while (I left them on the counter for an hour or so).  Heat the oven to 220F.  Bake for 15 minutes till golden. Cool and serve.

bread meshtah

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15 Comments

  1. Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Yammiiiii!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It sounds as it looks and that is just delicious, Joumana dear! :)
    I would give it a try, using sourdough instead of dry instatnt yeast. I ‘ll let you know how it turned out (but I’m sure it’s going to be just fine).

    Best wishes,

    Mariana

  2. Georges
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    How’s it spelled in Arabic?

  3. Sona Markosyan
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Dear Kifak!

    I live in New York,and i can’t figure out when I can buy you DVD.
    Please ,help me .I love very much all your recipes.

    Thank you very much

    Sona

  4. Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    This looks like the focaccia I make. I like the anise flavour here.

  5. Joumana
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    @Sona: I don’t have a DVD; I just have youtube videos and a cookbook coming out in a few months; stay tuned and thanks! :)

    @Georges: meshtah, sorry using an arabic keyboard is a pain on this laptop.

    @Mark: yes

    @Mira: from what I know jreesh is the same as bulgur just very fine, that’s what the Armenians and the Iraqis and the Kurds use for their kibbeh, it is like semolina or farina. I’d need to do more research on wheat germ to find out. I think Anissa Helou says King Arthur sells it as organic wheat germ. In Beirur when I made Iraqi kibbeh we used smeed (semolina) instead of jreesh, just the coarse grade. Since semolina is just a different type of wheat, it is all the same the end! :)

  6. Posted August 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    It looks wonderful and must be very flavorful!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Posted August 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    This bread looks great. Have to add to my list and make soon.

    You have a cookbook coming out? Excited!!

  8. anonymous
    Posted August 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    مشطاح

    It is a bit off from the one I’m familiar with. For instance, I don’t recall my grandmother adding bulgur to the dough.

  9. Mark Wisecarver
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 4:49 am | Permalink

    Excellent bread. Um, “220F”, are you sure about that? ;)

  10. Posted August 23, 2013 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Think your version beats all others!

  11. Mira
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi Joumana,
    I was just introduced to this anise bread by a friend from south Lebanon. They call it ba23a in their town. I’ve never had it before either, but goes really well with white cheese or labneh. My friend’s aunt makes it in her pizza oven but doesn’t use bulgur. I guess each person makes it their own by adding special ingredients. Is jreesh the same as wheat germ we find here in the states?

  12. Gabi
    Posted August 23, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Just wanting to say that I hope you’re all right. Take care and stay safe.

  13. Posted August 25, 2013 at 3:40 am | Permalink

    Looks very good and pretty easy to make. This kind of bread is very forgiving to make, it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t turn out perfect because its still tasty.

  14. HighAltitude
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been looking for ways to clear out the cabinets and was inspired by the flatbread bread. I’ll give it a go with a couple of substitutions like anise and modify the 220 oven temp with temps I’m more comfortable with. Will post after, wish me luck!

  15. Joumana
    Posted March 29, 2014 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

    @HighAltitude: Good luck!

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