Sunday, March 10, 2013

Pita Bread

In my mind I always thought making Pita bread would be a very time consuming laborious process involving a lot of luck and precise planetary alignment but that surely is not the case. Especially for us rolling pin wielding - roti-making Indians the stovetop version is similar to how we make our chapatis and fulkas everyday. I adapted the recipe from here and here's what I did different from the original recipe.

A big thank you to my friend Subha for clicking all the pictures.
3 C All Purpose Flour
2 Tbsp Semolina
2 Tbsp Olive Oil  (* I read this incorrectly from the original recipe, but I will stick with this measurement as I think it helps in rolling out perfectly shaped Pita which doesn't spring back as much)
1 C Warm Water + 1 to 2 Tbsp
2 tsp Salt  (* Will reduce this to 1.5 next time on it wasn't gratingly too much but a little less wouldn't hurt)
1 Pkt Rapid Rise Yeast  (* That's all I had at home)

1. Proof yeast using one cup warm water and yeast. Seeing yeast froth is something that gives me the confidence that the final product will turn out well, this is entirely optional unless your packet of yeast explicitly states so.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add flour, semolina, salt and yeast and mix on low to medium speed for about 4-5 mins. Adding water as required.
3. Add olive oil and mix for another minute or so till the oil is well coated. Transfer the dough or just cover up the bowl and leave for rising up till doubled up in volume.
4. Oven Method: Followed the method from here with a minor change
Preheat oven to 450F, put your baking sheet also in the oven to heat up. In the meantime roll out the Pita bread to your desired size but make sure it is not very thin. Once oven is preheated and all your Pita rounds are rolled out remove the baking tray carefully, place the Pita circles and place them in the oven for 3 minutes.
5. After 3 minutes remove from tray from oven, carefully flip each Pita over to the other side and put it back in the oven for 2 minutes. This gives the Pita bread a few spots and IMO makes for a better Pita pocket. If like me you forget to remove them from the oven and they remain in the oven, these will turn into dried Pita chips.
6. Stovetop Method: Ok so I followed the instruction in the original source for being able to refrigerate the dough and the next day I tried Pita on the stovetop.
Heat the griddle on the stovetop keeping a med-high heat. Constant heat and pressure is the key to puffed up Pita bread.

7. Roll out the Pita bread and then slap them on the griddle. Once the first side shows signs of lifting from the griddle and a few spots turn it over and apply even pressure with a clean kitchen towel.

Watch it puff to a beautiful round. Ooh and aah over it and repeat for as many Pita's as you want.

8. I cut them into halves as soon as they were off the heat fearing that it may lose the pocket if I didn't do this. Should have tried leaving one round without cutting to see what happens ..maybe next time ...

The Verdict:
The Pita breads made in the oven remain puffed up whereas the ones made on the stovetop tend to flop down, retaining their cavity and softness.
9. Enjoy with whatever filling catches your fancy ...

Friday, March 8, 2013


As much as I love eating Greek and middle eastern food I had never made it at home. This was one thing on my to try list for so long and then Nupur of One Hot Stove organized a swap, my swap partner sent me Sumac and I decided to put it to use. So I made Hummus, Falafel, Homemade Pita Bread, Tzatiki and a Warm Eggplant and Red Pepper Salad. I was very happy with the way all of the recipes came out and my husband and my friends certified that these were a hit. So here is how I made Hummus. I read a lot of recipes online but haven't stuck to any particular one. I didn't have Tahini and I basically just used toasted sesame seeds with olive oil. I am not sure this is how Tahini is to be made but this is how I made it.

I would like to thank Subha for clicking the pics and sharing them with me. Many a recipe remains in my drafts for the lack of pictures ....

Hummus - I pronounce it as Hoo-mus this was how I first heard a kuwaiti friend refer to it, I have heard others pronounce it as Hum-mus I don't know which is correct or authentic, if you do please let me know ...
1 15Oz Can Chickpeas
3-4 cloves of Garlic

1/4 C Olive Oil (I used Extra Virgin but I guess a lighter, fruitier olive oil will work too)
Juice of Half Lemon 
Tahini (Note:  I used 1/2 C toasted sesame seeds, powdered them and then added 2 Tbsp of EVOO - Not sure if this is authentic but didn't have it on hand so decided to make it)
Warm Water (as needed)
1/2 tsp Roasted Cumin and Pepper Powder
1 tsp Sumac

1. Empty the can of chickpeas in a colander and rinse it under hot water to remove all the gooey canned residue. I also think it reduces the tinny taste.
2. Remove the skin off the chickpeas as much as you can, it is kind of boring but I read somewhere that it results in a smooth textured hummus.
3. In a food processor add the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini. Grind the ingredients till they start to form a paste. I needed to add warm water to bring them all together, if the mixture doesn't seem to be coming together add warm water little at a time.
4. When it starts to become into a paste, add salt, cumin powder and half of olive oil and continue to pulse.
5. Transfer to a bowl, taste test for the seasoning adjust if required. Make a swirly mark with your spoon, drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with Sumac on top.
6. Serve with Pita bread, chips or veges ...
The tomatillos make a good prop ;)