Lebanese Street Food Guide: Ka’ak, The Lebanese Bagel

lebanese street food guide the kaak bread
Beirut is home to my husband’s side of the family, which is the main reason why we visit Lebanon quite often. When we’re not exploring the city and its outskirts, you’ll find us indoors, stuffing our faces with delicious, elaborate home-cooked Lebanese meals.
  
The kids grandma (or Teta as she’s affectionately known, which means “grandmother” in Arabic) is an incredible cook (we love her rice pilaf recipe), and we always wake up or come back home to find a variety of dishes on the table for us to dig in to.
 
As with any busy metropolis, I find mornings to explore the city; it’s when you get to see how the city comes to life. In the wee early hours you can hear cars honking, neighbors greeting each other good morning and…
 
…street vendors shouting “Ka’ak.”
 

LEBANESE STREET FOOD GUIDE: THE KAAK BREAD (BAGEL)

lebanese street food guide the kaak breadKa’ak (pronounced Kah-ek) is a ring-shaped bread, just like its popular American counterpart, the bagel, that’s baked and covered with sesame seeds. Unlike the American bagel, however, the Ka’ak is larger and according to the kids, looks more like the top part of a key.
 
They’re sold by cart vendors all through the streets of Beirut – and makes for a great breakfast treat, or after a day of touring the ancient ruins downtown, the perfect afternoon snack.
lebanese street food guide the kaak bread
It was one hubby’s favorite snack items while growing up in Beirut, so whenever we’re in town, he and Jaf wake up early, go downstairs and do some father-son bonding over some freshly made kaak.
lebanese street food guide the kaak bread
lebanese street food guide the kaak bread
A ka’ak on the streets in Beirut costs less than $1 so it’s truly wonderful street food snack for the kids and very very easy on the budget.
lebanese street food guide the kaak bread
It kind of tastes like and reminds me of a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese, but the dough is much lighter and not as filling. We usually like eating it with some Laughing Cow cream cheese, or filled with zaatar.
 

KAAK BAGEL RECIPE

lebanese street food guide the kaak bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 7 1/3 cup flour, all-purpose
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • sesame seeds for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Mix together the yeast, flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add in the 2 cups of water and combine all ingredients with your hands (the kids love to do this part).
  2. Knead the mixture until you get it to a dough-like consistency.
  3. Place back into bowl and cover with a towel. Let it sit for an hour – it will double in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Now it’s time to roll out the dough into key-ring shapes. Stretch it out with a rolling pin and roll into a round circle. We use the largest cookie cutter shape we can find to cut a hole into the dough – the traditional kaak have holes closer to the top, which is what we aim for.
  6. Place the kaak on the sheet, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden in color and puffy.
  7. Remove from oven – eat warm. Repeat with remaining dough.
Lebanese Street Food Guide: The Kaak Bagel
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Ingredients
  • 7⅓ cups flour, all-purpose
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1½ Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 cups luke-warm water
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Mix together the yeast, flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add in the 2 cups of water and combine all ingredients with your hands (the kids love to do this part).
  2. Knead the mixture until you get it to a dough-like consistency.
  3. Place back into bowl and cover with a towel. Let it sit for an hour - it will double in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Now it’s time to roll out the dough into key-ring shapes. Stretch it out with a rolling pin and roll into a round circle. We use the largest cookie cutter shape we can find to cut a hole into the dough - the traditional kaak have holes closer to the top, which is what we aim for.
  6. Place the kaak on the sheet, and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 7-10 minutes until golden in color and puffy.
  7. Remove from oven - eat warm. Repeat with remaining dough.

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