Photo Credit: Alexandra Grablewski
Khebez, which means “bread” in Arabic, is an irreplaceable part of Lebanese cuisine. Omitting khebez from a meal would be unthinkable, and don’t even think about entertaining without it! So important to us is khebez, that if you accidently drop some on the floor, you must immediately pick it up and kiss it to let God know how highly you regard it.
The Lebanese version of pita bread, khebez often replaces utensils—who needs a fork, knife, or spoon when you can scoop up mezze, stews, and meat dishes with warm, fluffy pocket bread? Whether served from a street stall or in the house, our sandwiches are always wrapped in fresh khebez, and we even have a class of dishes called fatteh, that uses the day-old bread as its base, and includes our famous Fattoush salad.
To enjoy Lebanese food is to enjoy khebez, and I hope you enjoy making and eating it as much as my family does!
MAKES EIGHT 9-INCH POCKET BREADS
2 pounds Ajin (All-Purpose Yeasted Bread Dough), at room temperature
1⁄3 cup flour, for the work surface and dough
Preheat the oven to 500°F. Before you begin to roll out the dough, place 2 or 4 baking sheets into the preheated oven.
Lightly flour a work surface and place the dough in the center, sprinkling a little flour on top. Using a sharp knife or dough cutter, cut the dough into two equal halves then cut each half into quarters for a total of 8 pieces.
Working one by one, take each dough piece into the palms of your hands and tuck it underneath itself. Then roll between the palms of your hands to shape a small ball. Place the balls on a lightly floured surface and allow to rest for 10 to 15 minutes, which will make it easier to roll. Then, stretch it out into a smooth, circular at shape making sure not to pull so hard as to create holes. Place the at dough on the floured work surface and roll it out to a thickness of about 1⁄4 inch, and approximately 9 inches in diameter. Repeat with the 7 remaining pieces of dough.
Carefully place the rolled-out dough rounds onto the hot baking sheet, two to a sheet, and place on the center rack of the oven. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until the dough puffs up and turns light golden brown. Remove from the oven immediately and cover the breads with a clean kitchen towel or wrap in a plastic bag to retain the heat.
Serve the khebez immediately, hot out of the oven or warm.
NOTE You will need a rolling pin, preferably a thin Arabic one (see Julie Taboulie Mediterranean Rolling Pin) and two or four baking sheets.
Copyright 2017 by Julie Ann Sageer in Julie Taboulie’s Lebanese Kitchen, St. Martin’s Press/St. Martin’s Griffin. All Rights Reserved.
RECIPE BY JULIE ANN SAGEER (JULIE TABOULIE)
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