Saj bread or Lebanese bread is a flatbread dish that can be served with various foods throughout the day. With just 6 ingredients, you can make this typical Lebanese bread. 6 ingredients and an inverted baking pan that you will use to make it. You can make Markouk Saj in large quantities and it can be a filling meal for the whole family.
There are indeed many varieties of Lebanese bread, and one of them is the one I am making. Apart from real pita bread, it turns out that Markouk Saj bread is a delicious and filling food that you should know how to make. Markouk Saj bread is a flatbread that is even very thin with a crunchy taste.
Markouk Saj bread is suitable for serving with several foods such as breakfast, mezze, stews and others.
Ok, before we see step by step how to make Markouk Saj bread, let’s get to know more about this Lebanese flatbread.
What is Saj Bread or Markouk
Markouk or Saj bread has many names. So, we have to know first how to say Markouk or Saj Bread.
Markouk Saj bread is a thin bread that does not use yeast, this bread is very popular in the Middle East and South Asia. This way of cooking flatbread is unique, it is not cooked in a pan but on the back of the pan upside down, especially a copper pan. This convex or inverted metal is called Saj or Tava. This is why the cooked bread is called Saj bread. This bread is very similar to several other bread options such as Indian Tava bread, Turkish Yufka bread or Gözleme, and Palestinian Shrāke bread. They are very similar to markouk/markook/Saj which we share the recipe for here.
In the Middle East, Markouk Saj bread is the king of unleavened bread. Some other names for this Lebanese flatbread are markook, shrak, khubz ruqaq, mashrooh, and more.
Here, we will show you how to make Saj bread which is very popular in the Middle East. We only use 6 ingredients and an upside down metal baking pan. This is a very flat bread, you can easily make the dough, the bread dough is stretched over a soft pillow before then baked in an inverted or convex metal pan. Ok, let’s look at the ingredients you have to prepare to make Mashrooh bread, or Saj bread.
Ingredients for Lebanese Fflatbread
- Flour: We use a combination or mixture of all purpose wheat flour and whole wheat flour. The goal is to produce bread that is rich in aroma and remains soft.
- Salt: Salt is a flavoring agent for Saj dough.
- Water: Water is important in forming the dough and making it rise and stretching it.
- Yeast & Sugar: Sugar is useful in activating yeast, but as we mentioned above there are many versions that do not use yeast (flat bread without yeast). But what I am sharing is a family recipe that always uses yeast on every occasion when our mother makes it.
- Cornmeal: This is useful for sprinkling so that the dough doesn’t stick when shaped. Actually you can use any flour for this, I usually use corn flour.
What Else You’ll Need
- Round pillow: Usually in every family there is this round pillow which is used for making bread. But if you don’t have one, you can use a regular round pillow and cover it with cloth to make it more sterile.
- Cooking equipment: A Saj, this is cooking, namely a large convex frying pan. Actually, this is a special convex frying pan, but you can use an inverted frying pan for this purpose. You can also use another pan as an alternative such as a large flat crepe pan.
Tip: The pad and pan should be the same size, after the dough is stretched on the soft pad, you transfer it to the convex pan. Typically the size of a Lebanese flatbread or Saj bread is 24in/60cm. But you can adjust it to the size of the equipment you have.
How to Make Lebanese Markouk Saj Bread?
Making Markouk Saj bread is easy, the only thing that is a bit difficult is stretching the dough. But with a little practice, you will easily find your way out. You will be good at making it yourself when you do it often. Let’s see how to make Markouk Saj bread, step by step, I hope it helps you.
1. Preparing the dough
Sift both types of flour (all-purpose flour and whole wheat) in a large bowl. Next add salt, yeast and sugar, and stir until mixed well.
While mixing, add water little by little, and fold in the dry ingredients until a dough forms.
Continue kneading the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes a really smooth and unique dough. You can also do this step using a mixer, but we haven’t tried it (rest assured that you can also use a mixer). How long does it take you to get a smooth dough? This varies depending on how hard you stir it.
2. Divide and Rest the Dough
Cut the dough into the same size pieces and sprinkle each piece with flour. Make sure the pieces are uniform or you can weigh them so they have the same weight. Place in a large bowl that has been sprinkled with flour to prevent sticking.
Cover with a cloth for 5 hours or overnight until the dough rises and is ready to make Saj bread.
3. Shape the Lebanese Flatbread
When going to work, sprinkle the work area with cornstarch or any flour. Working with one ball of dough, press to release gas.
Use your fingers to press the edges of the dough (not the middle), turning the dough often to stretch it into a large circle. If you’ve ever made pizza, this is similar to how it works. Sprinkle the dough with cornstarch frequently to prevent it from sticking.
When you find the dough is very thin, now use your whole hand to stretch it as big as you can. Then put the dough in your hand that you think is easy for you to turn, do it quickly and play with your hand. When it is thin enough, place it on a round soft pad. Now heat a convex frying pan, if you use a regular frying pan, you can turn it upside down to get a convex shape. Place it over an open fire or on a stove with a burning flame.
Before we bake it, while the dough is still on the pad, use your hands to pull and stretch it until the Saj bread dough becomes thin like paper.
4. Cook the Markouk Saj Bread
Now it’s time to cook the Saj bread, transfer the mixture from the pad to the frying pan or crepe pan. The method is to take the bearing and turn it upside down on a baking sheet. Leave it on the baking sheet until cooked (don’t touch it) and you see the edges are slightly browned. It may take about 1-2 minutes if you use an upside down pan. If you use a typical tool or Saj, you only need 15 to 20 seconds.
While you are cooking one dough (while waiting for it to cook), you can shape and stretch the other dough.
If it is cooked, now pull the markouk bread from the pan and set aside on a kitchen towel. Clean the rest of the pan or bread marks on the pan. Repeat the steps above to make the next Saj bread.
Step 5: Fold the Flatbread
Let’s just say that now you have finished cooking Saj Bread. The next step is to arrange it.
Don’t fold it straight away, but wait until it cools to room temperature. If the Saj bread is cold, you can now fold it. There are two ways to fold the Saj. Rectangular or triangular shaped.
- Triangle: Fold the Saj bread in half, and fold the bread in half, fold it in half again.
- Square: Fold both sides of the bread towards the center, one fold on top of the other. Fold the top towards the center until it forms a square.
If everything is folded, you can store it.
How to Store The Saj Bread?
Make ahead: You can store bread dough that has been stretched. To store it, place parchment paper between each layer of bread, you can store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later cooking.
Store: Transfer the bread – which has been stacked with baking paper between each layer – into an airtight bag and you can store it in the cupboard for one week. For a longer shelf life, you can store it in the refrigerator.
Freeze: If you want to extend the shelf life, you can store the flattened dough in the freezer. Place in an airtight container and freeze for a shelf life of 6 months or even more. When you want to cook it, make sure you have thawed it at room temperature.
How to Serve?
For those of you who don’t know how to enjoy this Middle Eastern flatbread, please follow the following guide. There are several delicious ways to serve and enjoy this Lebanese Saj bread.
- For breakfast, it is served with other dishes such as labneh, macdous, olive oil, jam, tomatoes, cheese, butter and others.
- Served with soups and stews or with any dish that uses sauce.
- You can serve it by making it into manakeesh, with a sprinkle of cheese on top or olive oil.
- You can use Saj bread to make a flatbread pizza, top it with tomato puree, cheese and marinara and then bake briefly.
- Make a sweet wrap – You can make it with homemade Nutella or banana and nut/seed butter.
- We like to serve Saj bread with zaatar, extra virgin olive oil, dandelion leaves and salt. Then roll it in half, and bite into it.
- 4.35 lb white flour all-purpose flour
- 0.95 oz sugar 2 Tbsp
- 2.02 lb whole-wheat flour
- 1.95 oz salt 1/4 cup
- 10 cups water cold, + extra for when shaping the dough
- 0.07 oz yeast 1/2 tsp
- Cornmeal or any flour, to dust the dough with
- Saj or a wok, a kadai, or a crepe pan – recommended 24 inch/60 cm but smaller works too
- Round pillow covered with a kitchen towel if needed
How to Make Lebanese Markouk Saj Bread?
- Preparing the dough
- Divide and Rest the Dough
- Shape the Lebanese Flatbread
- Cook the Markouk Saj Bread
- Fold the Flatbread
Please check the article for detail way to make it
Saj bread is thin, so you only cook it on one side, no need to flip it. Cooking on both sides will only make the Saj bread tough and unable to be folded.
FAQs about Markouk Saj Bread
What is markouk vs. tape?
Markouk bread is often called pita bread. However, physically, this flatbread is more similar to a large, flat tortilla.
What does markouk taste like?
The Markouk has a slightly spicy, tart and earthy taste, this is thanks to the combination of plain and whole wheat flour.
Can I omit the whole wheat flour?
Yes, of course you can, but for me it’s better to use whole wheat flour. But you can experiment more, until you find the right taste.