Delicious little baby manoush (Lebanese pizzas) with lamb or shangleesh

Oh! Manoush, how I love thee! With all due respect to l’Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, these babies are the best pizzas this outside of the Mediterranean. On a cold morning at my local Al Cheik Bakery in Lakemba, it’s always a hard task to decide between the fragrant manoush lahem pizza or the salty, creamy goodness of shangleesh* cheese encased in soft, sweet dough.

My first attempt to recreate the deliciousness at home was pretty successful. I used small circles of pizza dough and spread them with either a lamb or shangleesh mixture, then baked them at 200C for about 10 minutes. However, the lamb had quite a lot of juice which left a mark around the edge – next time I’d try draining off all the juices and chucking in a spoonful of flour before spreading on the pizza.

Make sure you use a pizza stone for making these to ensure the base is cooked and crisp, rather than soggy, when you take them out.

Lamb mixture:

  • 200g lamb mince (neither too fatty or lean – ask your butcher)
  • 1 ripe tomato, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • a few sprigs flat leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
Place everything on a chopping board and chop until it becomes a smooth paste. Leave to rest and drain off excess liquid before using.

Shangleesh mixture:

  • 1 large ball of shangleesh* (about 200g) or equivalent in smaller balls
  • 1 tsp za’atar**
  • 1 large / 2 small ripe tomatoes. deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 brown onion, chopped and sautéed in olive oil till translucent
Crumble the shangleesh into a bowl, then add other ingredients.

*Shangleesh (aka shankleesh or shanklish) is a cheese used in the middle East, made from hung yoghurt, sometimes mixed with peppers, and often rolled in za’atar before being preserved in oil.

**Za’atar is a mix of wild oregano, thyme, sesame and sumac, commonly available for Middle Eastern shops or delicatessens.

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