Lahoh is a sourdough flatbread which is eaten in Yemen Somalia, Djibouti, and Ethiopia. Variations also exist across North Africa. In Yemen, it is very popular in Sanaa and the northern areas. It is a key part of the spicy yogurt dish shafout, which is eaten with salad and zahawig as one of the courses which makeup a typical Yemeni lunch. You can also eat it with ground bisbaas and unsweetened yogurt. It is also delicious just plain!
1. Make a starter by mixing together 1/3 cup white flour, 1/3 cup whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. yeast and 1 cup water. Add the water slowly to prevent lumps. Let the starter sit covered, but not sealed, on the counter for 3 days. The second day the starter should be bubbling and yeasty smelling. On the third day all yeast activity should subside and the mixture should smell sour and a brown liquid will be separated on top. If you do not want to use the mixture on the third day, simply place it in the fridge and feed it with flour and water periodically.
2. To make the dough, mix together the starter, 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup white flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. yeast. Mix well and knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is soft and pliable. If the dough is too crumbly, add water a tablespoon at a time. Don’t add too much water, it should be similar to a bread dough. You can also substitute part of the corn flour with whole wheat flour, or even other types of flours.
3. Let the dough rise for 30-40 minutes.
4. Start to make the sharaba by mixing together ¼ cup white flour and ¾ cup water. Add the water very slowly and mix in between to prevent lumps. Heat on low-medium heat while mixing constantly. The mix will suddenly begin to thicken up. When the water has evaporated and you are left with a paste, it is finished.
5. Mix the sharaba into the dough. Then add ¾ cup of warm water. Mix well. The batter should be very thin, similar to crepe batter. Cover and let sit for 15-30 minutes, or until tiny bubbles appear.
6. Preheat your cooking surface on medium. I have found it is best to use a stone cooking surface, such as a pizza stone, bread stone, or unglazed quarry tiles. I simply place the stone on top of a cast iron griddle so the open flame doesn’t crack the stone. You can also try cooking on a metal surface, it should still make lahooh, only with not as nice of a texture.
7. Oil the cooking surface slightly with a brush or paper towel.
8. Put some batter into a cup with a spout, or a small tea kettle also works well. Start pouring the batter in a large circle shape, starting from the outside of the pan and make a spiral motion with the batter until you reach the inside.
9. Cook only on one side until the batter is dry on top and the edges are easy to peel up. On one side the lahooh should be golden brown and smooth and the other should have many tiny holes.
10. Place breads out on surface to cool down.
11. Repeat until there is only a ¼ cup batter remaining. Mix the remaining batter with starter ingredients to make another batch for next time.
12. Serve with bisbas and yogurt or in shafoot.
I have to say this recipe looks delicious! The result is a bit similar to pikelets you get in the UK, only your method seems to use a 'sour dough' mixture. Do you know if they are the same as pikelets, as in texture and taste? Also, I wondered what Lahooh-sana'ani style means. Is it possible to share the background of this recipe, or some info, like is it used as a breakfast, or snack? Sorry if I've asked too many questions, I'm very intrigued!
Thanks on advance!
Thanks for your comment and questions. I have never tried pikelets but they kind of look like american pancakes. This is similar to pancakes but its not eaten with sweet things, usually savory or sour dishes. The recipe for shafoot (also on the site) uses the lahooh breads. Lahooh is the name of the bread in Yemeni and its eaten at breakfast, lunch or dinner. You could try to eat it with plain unsewetened yogurt, bisbas, or maybe another kind of dipping sauce if you wanted to experiment. They also have a similar bread in Ethiopia and Somalia which is called injera.01.21.2013
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I loved the comparision between the clay surface and the metal suface cooking. What is the purpose of the sharaba in the dought?02.04.2013
Hi, thanks for your comment, the sharaba creates a lot of bubbles which is necessary for the lahooh. I have seen other recipes which use other ways to make a lot of bubbles at the last stage, such as adding extra yeast, but I have found this works for me.03.06.2013
You mentioned this bread being popular in Ethiopia. I've had this in Ethiopian restaurants - it was called "injera" and made with teff flour. Used as the "plate" or "serviing dish" and was torn off in chunks to pick up bites of the various dishes laid out. I've made injera, but using wheat flour, not teff. Although teff flour is now more available than when I tried making it. The recipe I made used baking powder as the leavening agent, not yeast, and was pretty much an undercooked pancake (compared to American pancakes).09.02.2013
yes injera is a cousin of lahoh. using baking powder doesn't really work as a leavening agent. I think there issomething about kneading and the yeast which traps the air and makes bubbles.12.17.2013
thanks for your comment
Thank you so much for your recipe and the video tutorial. I just made those yesterday and followed your instructions. For some reason, I had troubles getting the lahoh off the stone. It was too sticky. Tried with more/less oil, thinned out the batter with a little water (as it was too thinck). But nothing would do... in any case, we still loved the breads with honey, as well as sugar. I also shot a video of it. I will send you the link when it is published this week probably.
thanks for your message, perhaps the stone wasn't hot enough?04.27.2014
i recently had this in israel, but it had things on it, and it was wrapped up. za'atar, cheeses, onions, tomato, and a spicy paste. is this a preparation you are familiar with or know if there is a name for it?08.11.2014
That's very interesting. In Yemen its usually eaten with yogurt (http://www.shebayemenifood.com/content/shafoot-sanaani) or with spicy zahawig (http://www.shebayemenifood.com/content/zhoug-zahawig)
This bread is Yemeni but also Ethiopian and North African so that could be why you are seeing some different ways of serving it.12.14.2014
Shafoot is My favorite food Viva lahoh ♡05.07.2015
My family is Yemenite, and we ate this a lot growing up. After preparing a large batch, we would freeze them. Then, we would thaw a few at a later date, and fry them with egg. The egg gets into all the bubbles. Then we'd tear and dip it into tomato puree, eaten with some spicy schoog. Such amazing memories!08.11.2015
Wow mashaAllah I'm so impressed, I can't believe this website exists. It's like home all over again, thank you so much.12.26.2015
In Britain I make shafout using 'North Staffordshire Oatcakes" from Sainsbury's supermarket. They are soft spongy pancakes which are very similar to lahooh but without the sourness. I have also made these oatcakes at home - easier than lahooh, and you can add some yogurt or maybe vinegar to the recipe to make them slightly sour.05.17.2018
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