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Saj/Mountain Bread


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FoodMan did a great class called Introduction to Lebanese Cuisine and he included instructions on how to make pita bread. Much applause ensued, and many posters have written to say things like "but this is easy! and delicious!" I recommend you try that link first.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Those pans are used to make Pita Druzit, not the pita like Foodman makes which is baked in an regular oven (like is recipe) or in a taboon.

From: Daniel Rogov - "Dining with the Druze"

"Made by spreading batter on a specially designed round cooking surface, even the pita bread prepared in the Druze villages are special. Unlike most of the small, plump pita breads served throughout the Middle-East, Druze pitas are paper thin and can be as much as fifty centimeters in diameter and whether eaten plain, spread with clarified butter and dried herbs, or used in making a sandwich, these are special indeed."

I will try and find a recipe for you.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Ahhh...you guys are talking about a "Saj". Swisskaese is correct, this is used to make a pocketless large, thin bread known as mountian bread or Saj bread. Typically it has a good percentage of wheat flour in it, not just white flour.

I do have a couple of recipes in books but I personally never tried it yet. I will post it when I get a chance.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Speaking of upside down woks, I think Sonia Uvezian in her book mentions that you can use it as a Saj replacement on the stove top and provides a recipe for "mountain bread"...I do have an extra wok. Maybe I'll give it a try soon.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Thanks Foodman. I am going to go the the food fair down the street from my house and eat some saj with labane and zatar tomorrow!!!! Come for my wedding in November or any time and I will be happy to take you both to Dalayit al Karmel and we will have some amazing Druze specialties. :smile:

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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Thanks Foodman. I am going to go the the food fair down the street from my house and eat some saj with labane and zatar tomorrow!!!! Come for my wedding in November or any time and I will be happy to take you both to Dalayit al Karmel and we will have some amazing Druze specialties.  :smile:

Oh boy this sounds fantastic...I wish I could be there to have some of that. Last time I had some was this past May in Lebanon. Congrats and best wishes on your wedding.

Maybe I can have the next best thing by making it at home.

So I am determined to try the upside down Wok thing (Since I do have an old wok that I only use to steam or smoke stuff), prompted by this thread. I will give it a try using this recipe, scaled down and adapted from a Lebanese Arabic cookbook:

1 Kg flour (half white, half wheat)

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp Instant yeast

Enough water to make dough, maybe a cup

I also --Swisskaese also beat me to this-- have some fresh homemade yogurt that is draining to make Labneh and I always have Zaatar at hand. When the breads are done I will hopefully enjoy them with a nice spread of Labneh, Zaatar and olives.

I will report on how it worked out later tonight or this weekend.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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that was exactly where i wanted this topic to be!

thank you all so much !!!

one ore question. i saw at my sisters "pita pan";-) that it became rusty outside the house. is there any tip to keep it nice and shiny as it is now. oil?

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That sounds terrific. Do you suppose a regular small skillet, or a crepe pan, would work instead of the upside-down wok? Or is the curved bottom critical?

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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that was exactly where i wanted this topic to be!

thank you all so much !!!

one ore question. i saw at my sisters "pita pan";-) that it became rusty outside the house. is there any tip to keep it nice and shiny as it is now. oil?

Firstly, Smithy: You need a concave pan. It is critical. An ordinary wok, as Foodman suggested, that is 18 inches in diameter or more can be used. I would suggest getting a wok with two metal handles.

Secondly, in response to vue_de_cuisine: You need to season the Saj as you would a cast iron pan (Gusseisenpfanne). Heat the pan on high until hot, rub ordinary cooking oil on the concave side so that the pan has a very light coating all over. Carry on heating until the oil just begins smoke, remove from the fire and cool. Wipe it clean with a paper towel. I know this may sound disgusting, but you will have to trust me on this one, do not wash it and do not use the underside for cooking. Just wipe it clean with a paper towel after each use. Good luck.

I will try and take some pictures next week of a very sweet Druze woman making Pitot Druzit.

Take care,

Michelle

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I edited the title of the thread to be more descriptive of the subject matter

Also do NOT store the Saj (or Wok for that matter) outside, and keep it dry. This discussion is getting really interesting.

Smithy, I am not sure if a pan would work either but it is worth a shot. Just keep in mind that the pan/Saj has to get VERY hot so as to blister and cook the bread very fast. also the bread needs to be really thin, so you would not be able to get the same size "loaves" that you would get when using a Saj or a Wok. Man am I looking forward to trying this tonight, hopefully I will post some pics as well with my crappy camera.

Michelle, please do your best to post pics from the festival that would be awsome.

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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GUESS WHAT ?

I HAD A FRESHLY MADE PITA WITH LABBANEH AND ZAATAR ON MY WAY BACK TO TEL AVIV TODAY. AFTER IT A SWEET MALABI AND A BLACK COFFEE WITH HEL. HEAVEN ON EARTH!!!!!!!!!

I WILL TRY TO RECREATE THIS IN GERMANY FOR MY FRIENDS THATS FOR SURE

VUE

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Well, I tried the recipe above and made some very good bread on my upside down wok. It really was much better than I expected but still needs some work. I did get the dough very thin but once it cooked it got a little too thick, so first step is to reduce the amount of yeast and prolong the proofing time for the dough, maybe overnight. The dough really has to be paper thin for it to come out right. This is actually more consistent with the recipe I adapted mine from. The other thing is a matter of taste, I think the wheat flour also needs to be reduced. Maybe use only half of it and replace the rest with white flour.

Here are a couple of pictures. That folded half moon bread is actually stuffed with cheese. I also spread some Zaatar on another round but I did not get a chance tot ake a picture of it before it was gone :smile:.

gallery_5404_94_1096754714.jpg

gallery_5404_94_1096754846.jpg

Elie

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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i am back in germany and tried my saj for the very first time. the dough i made was a little bit to dry so were the pitas. but believe me folks, homemade pita is the best.

does anybody know what the perfect temperature is?

vue

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  • 5 months later...

This is really cool!!

I have a question, what is the difference between saj bread and marqouq/lavash bread? I am familiar with marqouq but not with saj bread.

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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I always thought markouk, the Syrian brown-speckled bread is made with yeast, while saj bread is made without yeast. Both are cooked on the upside down wok saj pan.

Also, markouk is stretched over a cushion before putting on the saj while the yeastless saj dough is swirled in the air into a wide round sheet and laid on the saj pan.

BTWYou need a special wooden spatula to turn the bread

A good flour for saj bread is the Indian chapati flour. I have recipes for both breads.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I always thought markouk, the Syrian brown-speckled bread is made with yeast, while saj bread is made without yeast. Both are cooked on the upside down wok saj pan.

Is the yeast what gives marqouq its distinguished tangy taste?

Saj, which is apparently referred to as mountain bread, is found in which regions specifically?

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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uIs the yeast what gives marqouq its distinguished tangy taste?

I have seen saj breads prepared in Konya in central Turkey, and in a Druse village in Israel. Both were made without leavening, on the concave saj and over charcoal. Very similar to Indian chapati with a unique nutty and wheaty flavor and a rippled, bubbly surface.

I've only tasted markouk a few times, but the most delicious was not outdoors on a moutain slope, but at the Hotel Sheraton in Damascus. The chef showed me how to make the bread and shared the recipe. He used white flour and not only yeast but baking soda as well.

tthe bread was so light, it blew up like a giant souffle..two feet in diameter and nearly a foot high. The waiter would run with it to the diner's plate hopefully before it collapsed. Didn'taffect the yeasty and nutty flavor.

I just remembered that I had a similar bread in Istanbul last year when I did the story about Musa the Magnificent, a Kurdish chef for food & wine.. He used semolina flour instead of white flour.

Edited by Wolfert (log)

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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The chef showed me how to make the bread and shared the recipe. He used white flour and not only yeast but baking soda as well.

tthe bread was so light, it blew up like a giant souffle..two feet in diameter and nearly a foot high. The waiter would run with it to the diner's plate hopefully before it collapsed. Didn'taffect the yeasty and nutty flavor.

Would you share the recipe with us as well?

I made my "pita" with

450 g all purpose flour

20 g fresh yeast

1 cup warm water

pinch of salt and al little bit of olive oil.

As you can see the "pita" didn´t really puff up, but it was done in seconds and had also a quiet nutty flavour. I am wondering where this flavour is coming from? I also tried a "pita" with semolina but it was to dense for my taste. I like it more fluffy.....

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I've only tasted  markouk a few times, but the most delicious was not outdoors on a moutain slope, but  at the Hotel Sheraton in Damascus. The chef showed me how to make the bread and shared the recipe. He used white flour and not only yeast but baking soda as well.

tthe bread was so light, it blew up like a giant souffle..two feet in diameter and nearly a foot high. The waiter would run with it to the diner's plate hopefully before it collapsed. Didn'taffect the yeasty and nutty flavor.

That's interesting because my experience of markouk was always of a very thin bread (literally paperlike sometimes), wide in diameter but not puffed up. The giant souffle like bread you had in Damascus was also called markouk?

"A chicken is just an egg's way of making another egg." Samuel Butler
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