UAE's Hidden Gems: Is this Dubai's longest manakish?
We hit the streets of Port Said in Dubai’s Deira in search of the UAE’s longest manakish, one that runs over a metre in length.
So, what’s the biggest manakish you have had so far? 6 inches wide? A foot-long? At Beyrock restaurant in Deira’s Port Said area, you can sink your teeth into ‘Manakish 101’ that stretches, as the name suggests, 101 centimetres (1.01m) long.
With as many as five toppings — Akkawi cheese, laham mafroom or minced meat, muhammara, made of fresh peppers, ground walnuts, breadcrumbs, and olive oil, this is perhaps the biggest, the longest and the widest manakish you will ever find on the streets of UAE. And with a layer of labneh tucked in between and adorned by the Cedar of Lebanon, this is perhaps the most exotic of its kind too. And all of this comes for Dh69, not much considering the legacy that this manakish is slowly carving out for itself.
But even before the idea for “UAE’s longest manakish” was born, Asim Khatib, the Jordanian co-owner of the restaurant, says he had to first reconcile with the fact that the special manakish would come with Lebanese legacy stamped on it. “We call it manoushe across the Arab world but when the Lebanese claim it as theirs traditionally, what can you do? Plus, my partner Ziad is from Lebanon,” says Khatib with a grin of quiet resignation while helping cut the manakish into small slices.
“So, we were discussing how manoushes came to this country and which might be the best topping. Then we decided to gather all (flavours) together in one small manakish. But it seemed too small to accommodate all flavours and so we decided to stretch the manakish and make it a metre long. And that’s how Dubai’s longest manoushe was born,” he goes on while slicing open the middle of the manakish that’s bedecked with the Cedar of Lebanon atop a layer of Labneh, as fresh and delightful as any other topping or portion of the manakish.
But if you still haven’t warmed up to this particular bake story, then you could try other items on their menu including international all-day favourites like sandwiches and pizzas made of homemade fresh dough and Arabic grilled items and falafel. Each truly enjoyable for their fresh choice of ingredients and spices and herbs but none as delectable as the story of Manakish 101!
The Beyrock story
Beyrock comes from Beirut, the largest city and capital of Lebanon known for its history of being an exquisite potpourri of cultures and cuisines that draw heavy inspiration from the Ottoman as well as the French. So, when you are at the Beyrock Restaurant and Café, you can expect a magical amalgamation of traditional Lebanese foods, exotic ingredients and seasonings coming together on your platter. The longest manoushe is an extension of that!
Manakish or Manousheh: What’s in a name?
Manakish is perhaps Levant’s biggest export to the world after shawarma and falafel. Made up of dough, it could be topped with anything from thyme to cheese to ground meat. And just like a pizza, it can be eaten any time of the day, sliced or folded. The word manakish is the plural of the Arabic word manqshah that comes from the verb naqasha for ‘sculpting or carving out’. That should tell you why the bakers press the dough, after it’s been rolled flat, by fingertips to create little depressions for the topping to sit fine. But if you are in Lebanon, it is simply manoushe, the famous Arab version of a pizza as we know it!
Four toppings and a Manakish
Arguably the most popular condiment of the Middle East, it is made of ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram mixed with toasted sesame seeds, salt, and other spices such as sumac as a topping.
There are mainly two types of cheeses used on a manakish: Akkawi, the more popular one that’s white in colour, has a smooth texture and is mildly salty, comparable to Mozzarella or Feta and Kashkaval, a semi-hard, yellowish cheese that traces its origins to the Balkans.
Lamb is the popular choice of meat, often mixed with tiny pieces of diced tomato and vegetable oil. Sometimes the manakish could also be served with ground pepper or pickles and yogurt.
Spinach or sometimes Swiss Chard, that like other green leafy vegetables, has highly nutritious leaves, perhaps make the healthiest manakish.
Longest manakish in numbers:
1 metre and 1 centimetre is the length of the longest manakish
2 people work on this one long manakish
4 people can easily share one of these among them
5 toppings make up this manakish
40 minutes is what it takes for this dish to be baked and served
Al Aman House Building,
Opposite Centurion Start Building
Port Said, Deira
Phone: 04-250 1710