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.