Markouk saj bread is a traditional Middle Eastern bread, which is cooked on a kind of convex metal griddle called a ‘saj’. It is also commonly called just markouk or markook.
Markouk is similar to pita bread, which is another very popular type of Arabic bread. It is thin, almost translucent, and usually quite large, with a diameter of about 2 feet. It can be eaten alone or used as a wrap for meats, cooked or raw vegetables.
Dry yeast is the rising agent that is used when making this bread. Warm water is used to activate the yeast and the rising process is given a little boost with olive oil, which also gives it a distinctive flavor.
History of Markouk Saj Bread
There are no records to show where exactly this bread originated from but is thought to be of Levantine origin. Historians who have attempted to trace its source have discovered several references that show that the Levantines have eaten this bread for centuries. However, because of its very rigorous baking requirements fewer and fewer people are opting to make it at home.
Recipe: Ingredients & Preparation Process
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- Oil for coating the dough
Put ¼ cup water in a bowl, add yeast and sugar and let it stand for about ten minutes.
In another bowl, mix flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the remaining water and the yeast mixture.
Knead the dough using a dough hook or by hand. Add more flour or water as needed.
Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a flat surface till it becomes smooth and is not sticky anymore.
Line another bowl with a thin layer of olive oil.
Place the kneaded dough into this lined bowl. Place a damp cloth over the bowl and leave it in a warm place for about two hours. After two hours, the dough will have risen to twice its initial quantity and is ready to be kneaded again.
Knead the dough lightly for a few minutes. After kneading, divide it into small pieces and roll these pieces into smooth balls. These balls then have to be flattened, which can be done either by hand or with a floured rolling pin.
Cook the flattened dough on a large, non-stick griddle pan. Traditionally the pieces would have been cooked on a saj. Saj bread cooks very quickly and just needs to be kept on the fire for just a few minutes only.
The resultant markouk saj bread will be very thin with minimum depth but it does have a pocket between the two thin layers. These can be stuffed with the filling of your choice.