The saj, a dome-shaped cooking vessel producing a large flatbread of the same name, is the inspiration for chef Adam Tayfour’s foray into bringing authentic Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dining to the fast-casual scene in Winnipeg. The tastes of Lebanon and Syria have found a loyal following in St. James and beyond with favourites like the Arabic chicken shawarma, beef and cheese saj and the ridiculously economical platters featuring falafel or kebabs along with rice, mixed pickles, hummus, garlic sauce and freshly baked saj.
Fresh flatbread topped with this herbaceous spice blend is a beloved treat morning through night.
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water(about 110 to 115°F)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
oil, for coating dough
1 Tbsp za’atar spice
1. Put yeast in 1/4 cup of the water; add sugar and let stand for 10 minutes. Sift flour and salt into a warm bowl. Form a well in the center. Pour in yeast mixture and remaining warm water.
2. Begin to mix by hand, adding remaining flour as needed. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead for about 10 min, until smooth and no longer sticky.
3. Oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, and turn to coat with oil.
4. Cover with a damp cloth, and put in a warm place free of drafts for 1 1/2-2 hours. The dough should be doubled in bulk. Knead for a few minutes then divide into balls about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Roll balls into circles on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, or flatten into circles with hand.
5. Flip the flattened dough on a curved hot surface (similar to an upside-down wok). Bake for less than a minute on one side, then flip to cook the other side.
6. Mix za’atar and olive oil. Spread on a warm saj bread.