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Markook is a thin Middle Eastern yeast bread, which is traditionally cooked on a saj, or a type of convex metal griddle. Also called Saj bread or markouk, markook is similar to pita bread. Served commercially, particularly in Lebanon, this bread may be eaten alone or serve as a wrap for meats or vegetables.
Made in the Levantine region for centuries, markook uses active dry yeast for its rising agent. All-purpose flour, sugar, and salt are also included in this bread. Warm water is used to active the yeast, and vegetable or olive oil is used for the rising process.
Like most yeast breads, markook is made by placing the yeast, and usually the sugar, into warm water. The flour, salt, and sugar, if it was not included with the yeast, are mixed together separately. The mixed dry ingredients are then added to the yeast mixture after it becomes bubbly.
Some recipes, however, may call for the yeast mixture to be poured into the dry mixture. When this occurs, the dry mixture is formed into a mound, then an indentation, often referred to as a well, is created in the middle of the mound. The liquid is poured into the well and both wet and dry ingredients are gently mixed. Additional water may be added at this time as well.
Once the ingredients are combined, the dough must be kneaded. Kneading can be done by hand or with a special dough hook attachment on a mixer. If kneading by hand, the work surface should be floured to help prevent the dough from sticking. When the dough is no longer sticky, the kneading is complete.
The kneaded dough is then placed in an oiled bowl and turned in the bowl so all parts of the dough are coated in oil. Afterward, it is allowed to rise in a warm place, covered with a damp cloth, for approximately two hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, it is ready to be kneaded again.
After this second kneading, the markook dough is broken into pieces and rolled into small balls. Each ball is either pressed thin with the cook's hand or, more often, rolled flat with a rolling pin. Once rolled, the pieces can be placed onto the saj, where they are cooked very briefly on each side. The cooking process usually takes less than two minutes for each markook.
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