Tuesday, June 14, 2011

“Khubs” - Whole-wheat Pita bread.
Cooked on a Tawa

Having grown up in the middle east, there was a fond liking for the rather staple food of the Arabs, the famous pita bread, however we grew up referring to it as “Khubs” and it was a pleasant surprise to come to India and find that they call it pita bread for some strange reason. Many of the places I have eaten this in India especially have no clue as to how to make the rather simple bread. 

I found this recipe on the Internet and adapted it with ingredients available in India, furthermore you don’t need a really hot oven, you can do it on ant tava, just like Chapatti. The taste is still far from the original, but still much better than the cardboard pieces you will be served in some so called authentic Lebanese restaurants in Mumbai & Bangalore.

Pita is now the western name for the Arabic bread called khubz (ordinary bread), baked in a brick oven. It is slightly leavened wheat bread, flat, either round or oval, and variable in size.

The "pocket" in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough. As the bread cools and flattens, a pocket is left in the middle.


·      7gms instant dried yeast
·      250ml warm water
·      2 cups whole wheat flour (Aata)
·      1 cup white bread flour (Maida)
·      1 tsp salt
·      1 tsp olive oil (refined sunflower oil will do)
·      Pinch of sugar

How I make it:

1.     Mix together the warm water , yeast, and pinch of sugar. Leave in a warm place until frothy.
2.     Mix together the aata, maida and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the liquid gradually, stirring vigorously with a wooden spoon. Add the oil, and as soon as it’s formed a ball start to knead. (If it’s a bit dry, add water few drops at a time until it’s knead able). Knead until smooth.
3.     Put the dough ball in a clean bowl covered with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until more than doubled in bulk.
4.     After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead again.
5.     Cut into 8 to 12 equal pieces. Round off each piece into a smooth ball, and leave, covered with a damp cloth or cling wrap, to rest for about 10 minutes, on a floured surface. (This resting time is critical for the successful formation of the pocket inside the pita.)
6.     Flatten the balls with your hand or a rolling pin to your desired diameter (for 12 pieces, about 5-6 inches / 12-15 cm is good). Let rest again for a few minutes so that the dough balls ‘relax’
7.     Heat up a Tawa or a non-stick frying pan, over medium-high heat.
8.     Take a flattened ball and put in a hot frying pan. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Leave for about 2-3 minutes, until it puffs up. Flip over and cook for another 2-3 minutes on the other side. Some will puff more than others - don’t worry if the puffing is minimal, you can still use it.
9.     Take out of the pan and immediately put into the pillow case. Close up the pillow case. This allows the pita to cool in a somewhat closed environment, so the surface is sort of pliable rather than crispy and brittle. (You can, of course, use a large kitchen towel instead)

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