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Greek Pita Express | thick and chewy version





بِسْــــــــــــــــــــــمِ اﷲِارَّحْمَنِ ارَّحِيم
السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته
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PLEASE NOTE: I've had a relatively large response to the pita bread in my Egyptian Red Lentil Soup post. I thought I'd revisit this bread and update with newer and better photos.

Pita bread ... as it is commonly known around the world is the most unadorned and simplest to make bread around that dates back to ancient times. Pita bread is an even better invention than sliced bread. It is no wonder that this round pocket bread has been a staple of the Middle East for 4,000 years. In fact, pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean serving the function of loaves of bread in wheat centric areas of Europe, Africa and Asia.

From what archeologists can determine, the pita originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. It is not perfectly clear if it was the Amorites or the Bedouins were the inventors. Both the farming and desert society respectively adopted pitas as their own. Soon, its popularity spread as the Bedouin peoples traded and travel across the Arabian and Sahara desert.

Originally, the pita was a combination of dough that was let to sit and collect yeast and fresh dough until the discovery that brewers yeast works. In the Middle East, It is still often made in a backyard stove compared to the store-bought pitas that have spread all over the globe.

But the history of pitas can only really be appreciated through the taste. The pita though has to be tasted with all the different foods that thrive in or enwrapped by pita. And then you will understand that sliced bread is the best invention since pita bread.

It is a rather simple bread that could be made with limited technologies. You simply roll out your favorite non-enriched dough as thin as possible and bake it on a tadjine, cast iron pan or even grill pan.

There is minmial resting time, so you put it together in a matter of moments. Despite its simplicity pita is one of the tastiest breads ever made, too. Perhaps it is all of the surface area and the soft chewy crumb?

Pita is really a great make-ahead bread. You can prepare the dough through the first rise, and then keep it refrigerated for up to a week. The flavor will actually improve with time! You can bake the whole batch at once or cut off just what you need to make one or two flatbreads at a time. When you're ready to bake, cut the dough into portions, flatten them slightly, and let them come up to room temperature before baking. Real simple huh? This blog is not called Simplicity for nothing!

The yoghurt is what makes this bread so soft and chewy ... plus it adds a slight tangyness to it ...This is a Greek style pita bread so it's pocketless. If you're looking for a pita bread with a pocket, consider looking into this recipe that I hightly recommend. 




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EGYPTIAN RED LENTIL SOUP WITH CRISPY ONIONS
Egyptian lentil soup is spiced with cumin and chile — it's just healty comfort with a kick

HEART HEALTHY, DIABETIC FRIENDLY, LOW FAT, VEGAN ADAPTABLE, HEALTHY COMFORT FOOD, 


soups & stews | serves 6 - 8

YIELD: SERVES 4-6
PREP TIME: 5 MINS
COOK TIME: 20-30 MINS

۞ = SUBSTITUTIONS

Dopple of Greek yogurt, sprinkling of sumac & top with crispy onions. Serve along side some fresh pita bread or chunk of crusty bread. 



FOR THE RED LENTIL SOUP

‣ 3 TBS milld olive oil or ghee
‣ 1 large onion, chopped
‣ 2 carrots, chopped
‣ 2 celery ribs, chopped
‣ 3 garlic cloves, chopped
‣ 1 tsp ground cumin
‣ ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
‣ 1 sprig of fresh thyme OR ½ teaspoon dried thyme
‣ ½ tsp cayenne pepper or ancho chile
‣ 3 large ripe tomatoes, grated (skin removed)
‣ 1 tsp tomato paste
‣ 340g - 2 cups red lentils
‣ 2 liters - 8 cups of stock (I used beef stock) ۞
‣ salt, to taste
‣ black pepper, to taste
‣ Juice of 1 lemon 

FOR THE CRISPY ONIONS

‣ 32 g - ¼ cup all-purpose flour
‣ 40g - ¼ cup yellow cornmeal
‣ 125ml - ½ cup water
‣ 1 large, lightly beaten
‣ ½ tsp sweet paprika
‣ ½ tsp ground cumin
‣ generous pinch of black pepper
‣ ½ tsp baking powder
‣ 1 large sweet onion, very thinly sliced
‣ Oil for deep-fat frying

    MAKE THE SOUP
    Pick through your lentils for any stones or unwanted debris. Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and sauté until soft, about 10-15 minutes.  The onions should not be burnt.
    Add the spices to coat the vegetables.  Cook for a few minutes to toast the spices. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the stock. Bring the heat to a slow simmer. This soup shouldn't boil at any point. Season generously with salt and pepper and add the lentils. Simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are very soft.

    Remove the lentil mixture from heat and purée using a hand-held immersion blender (or in batches in the regular blender). I like mine very smooth and silky. If you like yours a more chunky texture, feel free to only purée half the soup.  Bring the soup back to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. If the soup is too thick, add an addition cup of stock or water. Check for seasoning and reseason as needed with salt and pepper. Right before serving squeeze some lemon juice over the top of the soup and stir.

    MAKE THE CRISPY TOPPING
    In a shallow bowl, whisk the first five ingredients. Separate onion slices into rings. Dip the onions into the batter. In a deep-fat fryer or deep heavy bottom pot, heat 1 in. of oil. To check if your oil is hot enough, simply toss in a bit of the coating. If it quickly floats to the top the oil is ready. If it sinks to the bottom, the oil isn't hot enough yet. Fry onion in batches for 1 to 1 ½ minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Alternatively, bake the onions in the oven for about 15 minutes on abaking sheet, until crisp.

    Serve immediately topped with crispy fried onion and with pita bread or your favorite  Or optionally top with caramelized onions or arabic croutons (fried or baked pita strips) and serve with crusty bread.

    Storage
    This soup keeps well in the fridge for up to 4 days. And can be kept longer if frozen. To use, just reheat the soup slowly on the stovetop.

    Vegan

    To make this soup, vegan simply use a vegetarian based stock when making the soup.

     CATEGORIES:  HEALTHYCOMFORT, SOUP VEGAN ADAPTABLE,,MIDDLE EASTERN, EGYPTIAN, MENA COOKING CLUB

    SOURCE:  ADAPTED FROM CHEF OSAMA AND ERIC MONKABA

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          HAVE YOU EVER HAD EGYPTIAN FOOD? WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE EGYPTIAN DISH? 

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          active prep time: 15mins | inactive prep time: 10min | cook time: 25-30 mins 
          16



          • 2 cups AP flour
          • 1 cup wheat wheat flour
          • 2 tsp instant yeast
          • 2 tsp salt
          • pinch of sugar or spoonful of honey
          • 1 pot of natural yoghurt (90g)
            1/2 cup125 g4.4 oz
          • 1 cup +/- of warmed water
          • handful of nigella seeds (optional)
          • semolina (large or medium grained) or cornmeal for the work board




            1. Sift the flour and place into a large bowl.
            2. Make a well in the center of the bowl and simply add in all the ingredients except the water.
            3. Mix together, then slowly and gradually add in the water to form a soft dough.  Stop adding the water when it reaches the right consistency.
            4. Knead for about 5m - a few good turns is enough. The dough ball becomes really smooth and ‘bouncy’.
            5. Cover and allow to rise for 5m.
            6. Then divide the dough into 8 portions.
            7. Form balls that are about the size of a mandarin orange.
            8. Then flattened into your deserved thickness. For me about I like mine about 10cm round.  No need to rest again since by the time you flattened all the balls, the first ones will have rested enough to be baked!
            9. Coat the bread on both sides with the semolina or cornmeal.
            10. Bake on a hot ungreased cast iron pan or tadjine in the oven or on the stovetop. Alternatively you could grill the pita breads.
            11. Place a large glass lid over the bread, so that it will steam for a few minutes. This process will yield you a chewy crumb. About 4 minutes is enough on both sides
            ۞ Cook's Note:
            Fun Pita Factoid: From Wiki
            Pita is "bread" in Aramaic. When Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe came to Palestine in the 19th century, they needed a different word in Hebrew for the Arabic bread, simply called "bread" (khubz) by the local Arabs. Today, this type of bread is known as pita or kmaj or khoubz..
            Size- Wise
            You can easily make individual besboussas by filling cupcake tins with the batter.

            Subsitute
            Subsitute cornmeal (semoule de mais) to make this dessert gluten-free. 

            Variation
            Besboussa is very versatile dessert that you can easily change but adding various flavouring ingredients such as orange, lemon, coconut, chocolate or even nuts.

            bread, Medtierranean




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            33 comments:

            1. I have always wanted to make pita bread but for some reason have never attempted doing so:) Your bread looks great! I should make my own too one day. Thanks for the recipe!

              ReplyDelete
            2. Salaam... Masha'Allah this looks great! I am trying out making Naan bread to go with the curry today - I hope it is as successful as your pitta!

              What is different in the method if you want it *with* pockets? Do you know?

              ReplyDelete
            3. Ismallah Ya Heni
              You use Saj to bake them.. When I saw your photos I remembered my mom , she used to make markouk and then leave some dough to do manakish on the saj Yummy Yummy
              thanks dear for sharing .
              thank again for your email instruction i didnt get to read and follow i was sick the past couple of days is sinus infection.

              ReplyDelete
            4. How interesting! I would like to try your recipe! I like the puffy pita but it does require more care and this is a great recipe when you don't have the time to make the other kind/ Thanks!

              ReplyDelete
            5. I like this style of pita too. We usually find this kind in Greek restaurants in the states. I had some pocket style pita in Algiers that I was not to fond of.

              Oh how I wish I could make bread. I've just about given up because no matter how simple the recipe it neve comes out right.

              ReplyDelete
            6. Greetings friends,

              This is bread is so very easy to make! I encourage you to try it UmmAR!

              Nicola, easy pocket pita style bread is the batbout which I will be posting very shortly enchallah!

              Saj is rounded dome like baking dish right Arlette? If yes not then i have a flat cast iron pan with handles that looks like a flat paella pan. it is algerian called a tadjine.

              ReplyDelete
            7. Thanks Henia! Btw, my naan was good but actually it was more like pocket pitta than naan! I think I should have left the dough for longer but the kids were getting hungry! LOL

              ReplyDelete
            8. Dear Hennia,

              it looks maaschallah very good. Inschallah my first time, i would like to make it together with you. Maybe we can arrange this ...... Hope to see you Manja

              ReplyDelete
            9. Salam Henni,

              Your pita looks easy and yummy to make. However, I have one question, for yoghurt measurement, you put 2 pots / 90g, does it mean that the total yoghurt should be 90gm only? or is it (90g X 2)? thank you

              ReplyDelete
            10. Esalaam Noorul,

              Thanks for commenting and viewing my blog!

              Sorry - I will clarify. The yoghurt I have used is the small individual sized ones ; just one is enough ... sizes of course of yoghurt container vary country to country but usually they are around 90g or 3oz containers. So overall here 6TBS or 90g or 3oz of yoghurt

              ReplyDelete
            11. Thanks Heni...I've tried this recipe and it comes out great and tasty. I cooked them in a skillet. However, I have to say, not all of them had pockets but they tasted great..::))) will try again..thanks again

              ReplyDelete
            12. Esalaam Noorul,

              This is more like a Greek pita, so it is not suppose to have a pocket.

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