Today I’m sharing Aleppo Pepper Flatbread, or Khobz bil Flefli.
During our summer vacations to Syria, if we were lucky, we made it out of Homs to the nearest beach town for a weekend getaway. The morning of our trip was quite busy, with my mom packing up all toys, clothes and swimsuits for us kids, and making sure my dad had everything in order. We loved our time away. It was filled with endless playing, constant cousin time and a funny amount of independence, considering how young we were. At night, after we washed all the sand off, we came and went as we pleased, going to the nearest snack bar or arcade game.
In the midst of the chaos of packing up for the few days off, someone would always go out to the local bakery and grab some manakish, or za’atar/cheese flatbread, for breakfast and sfeeha, or meat flatbread, for lunch in transit. They’re quick, delicious and filling. They’re the type of treat that’s ordered when people need to be fed, and nobody has time or energy to prepare a fresh meal. Which is why they’re common on road trips.
Aleppo Pepper Flatbread (Khobz bil Flefli) has become my favorite of the flatbread varieties. It’s super tasty, versatile and can be eaten anytime of day. I love to melt white cheese in between two pieces for an indulgent breakfast or snack. It’s perfect next to a salad for lunch or grilled meat for dinner.
My mom learned this method from her friend’s mother. She grew up in Harem, about 55 km west of Aleppo. The main component is Aleppo pepper paste, giving it its signature fruity and mild spiciness of dishes the region. There’s other additions, including onions, black seeds, sesame seeds, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, oil, coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. My mom adapted the bread to suit her own taste, which is the recipe you’ll find below. The deliciousness comes from the topping. In fact, you can use just about any dough you find (store-bought or homemade). The result is super addicting acidic, earthy and flavorful.
I hope you give this recipe a try! If you do, don’t forget to put it in the comments and tag @omayah.atassi and #omayahcooks on Instagram. I love to see your creations!
Aleppo Pepper Flatbread (Khobz bil Flefli)
Eat this flavorful flatbread with grilled meat, or melt some white cheese in between 2 pieces for an indulgent snack. Perfect anytime of day.
Makes: About 30 pieces
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
1 lb dough of your choice (store-bought or homemade)
300 g Turkish or Aleppo pepper paste
4 large onions, chopped
1 3/4 c olive oil, divided
1/2 c toasted sesame seeds
1/4 c black seeds
1/2 c lemon juice
1/4 c pomegranate molasses
1/2 tsp sugar
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground fennel seeds
Salt to taste
1/4 c vegetable oil
- Set a skillet over medium heat. Add 1/4 olive oil and onions. Sauté until lightly golden and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes.
- Combine the onions with the pepper paste, sesame seeds, black seeds, 1 1/2 c olive oil, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, sugar and seasoning. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 175° C/350° F. Dust your work surface with flour. Divide dough into 1-inch balls. Dip each ball in flour and roll out until it's 1/8 inch thick, dipping again in flour if it sticks to the rolling pin. Cut with a 4 inch cookie cutter and set aside to rest for a few minutes.
- Brush 2 baking sheets with vegetable oil. Transfer dough to the baking sheet. Spoon a generous amount of pepper paste topping on each piece of dough, spreading evenly. Bake until just beginning to change color, but not yet browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover immediately with foil until bread cools slightly.
- Transfer leftover pepper paste topping to a plastic container and store in the freezer for future use. Bread keeps in an air-tight container in the fridge up to one week, longer in the freezer.