Pita. Pita Bread. A delightful flatbread, the best of which is barely sweet, soft and with good ‘pocket’.
The best pita bread I’ve had in my life has been from a Lebanese restaurant called Jedoudna in Dubai. I love Jedoudna because they bake their pitas to order. What does that deliver to you? Me? The freshest bread ever – warm and sweet. Can you tell I’m enamored?
And from them, I learnt 5 things and more about pita.
Here’s how the best pitas are made.
You begin with a batch of dough, made to certain specifications. I like this (not-yet-tried though) recipe because the David Tanis, the writer gets ‘it’. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing as divine as warm pita. Well, maybe a few things but lets focus, focus on the pita.
Small balls, just larger than golf ones are formed and then passed through a machine which whips them into flat :).
The dough rounds are then placed on wooden boards to rest, in readiness for baking.
When an order comes in, the baker takes a board and heads to the wood-fired oven.
With skill and dexterity, he shakes the dough circles onto the floor of the oven. If you’ve ever handled a pizza peel, you’ll know this is an art.
The oven itself is a beauty – it sports a flat bottom with domed sides. The heat comes from flames lining the sides which lick the walls and rise to the top of the dome.
The best thing about watching this process is seeing the transformation from dough to bread. It is one of the most rewarding feelings on earth, like watching tea flowers bloom – as though you’re birthing some living, breathing being with the power to change life for the better. Sigh.
The baked breads then go to a holding table from which they are doled out to willing recipients.
When we receive our order, it is in a brown paper bag.
With a hole cut into the sides so heat and its best friend of closed bags – ‘sweat’ can have a party somewhere else, not here and definitely not ruining the beauty that is pita-made-well.
Four months on, we still talk about these pitas, dream about them, compare the next best pitas in Lagos, Nigeria – From Candy’s with them.
And in all this, I’m gathering courage. Courage to attempt to make a batch. Not today. Not tomorrow, but soon.
If you have any tips for me, I would love them. Thank you.