Jreesh is cracked wheat. Let’s not confuse cracked wheat and bulgur; bulgur is parboiled and cracked wheat is just cracked. Both are wheat. They look similar. A popular ingredient in baking and cooking in the South of the country. In Beirut, some bakeries specialize in this type of man’ooshe or flatbread, called jreesh.
Jreesh can be dark or yellow, just like bulgur. It depends on the type of wheat, (I think). It is consumed in pockets throughout the Middle-East and Turkey; in Iraq, for example, it is incorporated in kibbeh dough. In Anatolia (Turkey), it is cooked like rice, in a simple pilaf.
Jreesh gives bread more flavor. One baker from Kfar Remman, a village in the South reputed for its fine cooks, made us a zaatar and jreesh flatbread (man’ooshe) with a touch of anise in a whole wheat dough. The anise subtly infused it with its sweet fragrance. It was the best. I decided to reproduce it at home.
INGREDIENTS: 4 to 6 flatbreads
- 2 cups whole-wheat flour
- 1 cup white unbleached flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 cup cracked wheat (jreesh)
- 1 tablespoon anise seeds or 1 tsp anise powder (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon mahlab (optional)
- 1 (up to 2) teaspoons instant dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup (or more) water
1. Place the jreesh in a small bowl and cover it with about 1 cup of very hot water; set it aside for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, proof the yeast in a bowl of 1/2 cup of warm water, stirring it with the sugar. Set it aside in a cupboard and wait for it to bubble up, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle the anise seeds in 1/2 cup of very hot water for about 20 minutes.
2. Mix the two flours and salt, adding mahlab if you like. Add the oil and keep stirring for one minute. Squeeze the water out of the jreesh by transferring it to a sieve. Press on it to drain it well and add it to the flour mixture. Stir and add the yeast mixture, then the anise seeds and water mixture. Keep mixing till the dough becomes one mass and does not stick to the bowl. If needed, add more water or flour if the mixture is too wet or too dry.
3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, flip it around to oil it and cover it with plastic wrap; let it rise for a couple of hours. Leave it in the fridge overnight if you are not going to use it right away. When ready to use, preheat the oven to 450F-500F. Flour the counter, divide the dough into 3 or 4 balls and roll each one on a piece of greased foil or parchment paper. Make sure you have a baking sheet in the oven getting hot while the oven is heating. After rolling out the dough into a circle, slather it with zaatar paste all over. Slide the bread onto the hot baking sheet and bake it for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bread is puffed-up and cooked through. Serve with fresh sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and olives if you like. A dollop of labneh is welcome as well.