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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Pita Bread

Last of all on my Greek Lunch was pita bread, that helped bind the lunch together. Being a Pakistani family, we need some form of flatbread or roti with our food. Any menu lacking flatbread or roti is not fulfilling enough. Traditional roti made on a tawa does not pair well with Greek menu, hence the pita bread.


In the recent years, Pita bread has become quite a fad. When I was working as a QAE at a software house, we learnt of a place that made and delivered gyros. Gyros are typically meat sandwiches made with pita bread. That was my first proper introduction to this simple yet delicious bread. Then shawarmas propped up al over the place, again made with a version of pita bread. These days, along with sandwiches and burgers, there are wraps found at fast food outlets, which mostly are made with pita bread.


Pita bread isn't hard to make. It has very basic dough, something like a pizza dough. To make flavored pita breads, you can add oregano, onion seeds, green coriander or other herbs/ spices. Pita bread can be frozen after the initial baking, and re baked to heat and cook. It can be cooked over stove top or baked in the oven. It can be eaten like a roti, used as a wrap, or cut and baked crisp to serve with Hummus.

Recipe

Ingredients

3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar
1 1/3 - 1 1/2 cup water
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add olive oil and mix it in flour. Add water in small additions and mix in flour. As soon as the dough comes together, start kneading, adding water only if necessary. Knead the dough until elastic and supple.

Coat a large bowl with olive oil. Shape the dough into a ball and place in the oil coated bowl. Turn the dough around to coat with olive oil. Set aside in a warm place to rise, around 1 hour or until doubled. Punch down the dough. Make 8 - 12 balls and cover with a damp cloth. Rest for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 425 F. Roll out the balls into 1/8" or 1/4" thick. Rest covered for 10 minutes. Bake for 3 - 5 minutes in the oven. Bake longer if you want browned pita bread. Spray a little water on pita bread before baking to result in a very soft pita bread.

This can be done on stove top as well. Place a pita bread disc on well heated and light greased girdle. Turn over the pita bread as soon as it changes color slightly. Cook for a couple of minutes, pressing the pita bread with a kitchen towel. Turn over and repeat the same process for a couple of minutes.

Store pita bread covered with a tea towel to keep warm and soft, as pita bread tends to dry out quickly when exposed to air. Cooked pita bread can be frozen as well. Happy baking!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Hummus

Hello again. Back yet again after a long break. I haven't been cooking much for a while. But I have tried a couple of cake/ cookie in a mug recipes. Frankly I am not much fond of these microwaved cakes or cookies. They lack flavor. It might be a good quick fix for the sweet tooth, but I would prefer the traditional oven baked cakes and cookies any day. They are worth the extra effort.

In other news, I have been to a session on "The Image of the Female journalist" hosted at the Residence of US Consul General. This is something I would be discussing in more detail on my personal blog.


Back to my Greek lunch, the dip in the picture is Hummus, which is a traditional Mediterranean dip and works well with crunchy vegetables and pita bread. It also can be added to sandwiches for creating a greater depth of flavor and texture and to keep the sandwich healthy. Hummus is part of many wrap recipes. O my lunch table, Hummus was served with carrots and cucumber. And anyone could make a quick wrap with pita bread, the Greek baked Chicken and Hummus. Doesn't it look so refreshing and vibrant?


The main ingredient in hummus besides the chickpeas is tahini paste. Tahina is a sesame seed paste, which has a distinct nutty flavor. The tahina is offset with lemon juice that adds some acidity to the dip. Hummus can be blended as smooth as you like. so if you like it a bit chunky, blend less; if you like it smooth and creamy, blend all the chickpeas. As usual, since I don't like the over powering taste from garlic, i use a lot less than the recipe asks for.


Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups chickpeas, boiled and drained
1/3 cup tahini paste
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 - 3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 cup water
Salt, to taste
Red chili powder, to taste
Olive oil, for garnish (use extra virgin olive oil)

Method

Put the chickpeas, tahini paste, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, cumin, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend the chickpeas. Add water if it is hard to process the chickpeas. Add water in small quantities so as not to make the hummus very runny. Add enough to blend easily yet maintain a thick mayonnaise like consistency. 

When blended to desire, pour the hummus in a jar or bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the hummus. Garnish with coriander leaves if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use. Happy cooking !!!