Pita bread is flatbread that originated in the Middle East before recorded history. The name “pita” is the English version of the name for this bread. Still used widely in the Middle East including the Arabian Peninsula, the bread is also used as a part of the daily diet in the Balkans and other countries around the Mediterranean Sea. Pita is round and flat or round and flat pocket bread. The pocket type is sliced in half and stuffed with sandwich fillings while the flatbread is either used as a wrap sandwich or cut in wedges and used for dipping in sauces.
How is Pita Made?
Generally, pita bread has little or no yeast. Made with wholesome wheat, the bread is usually made from the whole grain. The ingredients are simple, and the bread is baked in stone or brick ovens that are kept burning hotly. Alternately, they are cooked in a frying pan over a hot fire.
How Pita Bread is Commonly Served
Pita is often cut in wedges to eat with other foods and sauces. Along the Mediterranean and in the Middle East where pita is eaten, robust and authentic ingredients are used for filling them. Lettuce, onions and cucumbers are often the vegetables used in pita sandwiches. The meats generally used as fillers are grilled beef, lamb and chicken. Here are some of the other traditional items eaten on pita:
Falafels – Vegetarian wraps with fillers like falafels are very popular. In fact, falafels are one of the most well-known and love pita stuffers. These are fried or baked balls made from mashed chick peas (also known as garbanzos) and seasonings. Fava beans or a mix of chick peas and fava beans are also used. The freshly cooked falafel balls are usually partially mashed over a bed of lettuce leaves in the pita and drizzled generously with tahini sauce. The wrap may also contain hummus or tzatziki.
Tzatziki – This delicious sauce or dressing is made from a blend of cucumbers and yogurt. Olive oil, salt, garlic and sometimes lemon juice are also blended in this dressing. Variations are made by adding other herbs like hot pepper, coriander seed or dill weed.
Tahini Sauce – Tahini (puree of toasted sesame seeds) whipped with lemon juice is a simplified form of tahini sauce. Like basic vinaigrette, variations are limitless when adding various herbs for different flavors. As examples, onion and garlic are delicious in tahini sauce when blended smooth.
Hummus – Made from chick peas blended smooth, lemon juice and tahini, hummus is a thick paste like a pate. Other flavors are added for variety like roasted peppers or hot pepper. Hummus is eaten alone on pita or as a spread with vegetables and meat or falafels.
Traditional Flat bread
Flatbread is traditional in many cultures around the world, and pita is the flatbread eaten by people in the countries around the eastern half of the Mediterranean. Popular in other countries of the world as well because of introduction by immigrants from this region, pita is a healthy choice for those who want whole grains or less bread in their diet. Filled with delicious fresh vegetables, meats and vegetarian options and drizzled with tasty sauces, pitas wraps or pocket bread make fabulous sandwiches.