Pita

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This article is about the flatbread. For other uses, see Pita (disambiguation).
Pita
Nablus souq pita 118 - Aug 2011.jpg
Place of origin Middle East
Main ingredients Flour and water
Cookbook:Pita  Pita

Pita or pitta (/ˈpitə/, /ˈptə/ or /ˈpɪtə/)[1] is a soft, slightly leavened flatbread baked from wheat flour. It is used in many Mediterranean, Balkan and Middle Eastern cuisines and resembles other slightly leavened flatbreads such as Iranian nan-e barbari, South Asian flatbreads and Central Asian naan, and pizza crust.

Etymology[edit]

The first known mention of the word in English was in 1936.[2] The English word is borrowed from one or more of Modern Hebrew pittāh, Modern Greek πίτα, and perhaps Balkan languages. These all probably come from the Byzantine Greek πίτα 'bread, cake, pie, pitta' (attested in 1108), but that word's further etymology is "uncertain and disputed".[2] Some sources trace it to the Ancient Greek πίττα or πίσσα 'pitch/resin',[3][4] while others characterize this as "unlikely" and trace it to Latin picta 'painted', itself supposedly from Greek πηκτή 'congealed'.[5][6] Though the Modern Hebrew word pittāh is spelled like the Aramaic pittəṭā/pittā (which is related to Levantine Arabic fatteh), they are not connected historically.[2] Other hypotheses trace it to Germanic[7] or Illyrian.[8]

The word has been borrowed by Turkish as pide,[9] and appears in the Balkan languages as Serbian/Croatian pita, Romanian pită, Albanian pite, Bulgarian pitka. In Arabic, the phrase "خبز البيتا" (pita bread) is sometimes used; other names are simply "خبز" 'bread', "الخبز العربي" 'Arab bread' and "خبز لبناني" 'Lebanese bread'.

Preparation[edit]

Six pitas baking on a circular pan in a wood-fired oven
Pita baking in Nazareth

Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450 °F or 232 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened to form a pocket. However, pita is sometimes baked without pockets and is called "pocket-less pita".

Nowadays, Pita bread is prepared using advanced automatic lines. These lines have high production capacities ranging from a few hundreds per hour up to thousands per hour.

Culinary use[edit]

Pita can be used to scoop sauces or dips such as hummus and taramosalata, or to wrap kebabs, gyros or falafel in the manner of sandwiches. It can also be cut and baked into crispy pita chips.

In Greece, pita is a component of pita-souvlaki. These types of sandwiches involve the wrapping of souvlaki or gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, french fries, hamburgers, and condiments into a pita bread.

Also, several pitas are found all over Greece (as a home meal or as appetizers, snacks or desserts), such as Kolokythopita, Mizithropita (Crete), Melintzanopita, Tsouknidopita, Kremydopita, Kreatopita (meat pie), Galatopita, Marathopita, Tyropita, Spanakopita, Malathropita (Chios), Ladopita.

In Turkey, local pita is called pide, which also refers to another pizza-like food made of pide dough topped with different ingredients. Regional variations in the shape, baking technique, and topped materials create distinctive styles for each region. Such pides may include pastırma, sucuk, chicken, chopped or ground beef, kavurma (meat, generally mutton or beef, fried with suet and salt and kept for later use), cheese, potatoes, mushrooms and many other ingredients.

Turkish pide recipes include the following: Plain pide is used for serving some kebabs on it such as Döner kebap, İskender kebap, Şiş kebap, Adana kebabı, Urfa Kebabı, Yoğurtlu kebap (Kebab with yogurt), Pidei köfte and Tokat kebabı, among others.

In Palestinian, Lebanese, Iraqi, Israeli, Egyptian and Syrian cuisine, almost every savory dish can be eaten in or on a pita, from falafel, lamb or chicken shawarma, kebab, omelettes such as shakshouka (eggs and tomatoes), hummus and other mezes.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Collins English Dictionary". 
  2. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary, Third Edition, 2006
  3. ^ Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Λεξικό της κοινής Νεοελληνικής
  4. ^ for the gloss: Liddell, Scott, Jones A Greek–English Lexicon
  5. ^ Babiniotis dictionary
  6. ^ The connection between picta and πηκτή is not supported by the OED s.v. 'picture' nor by Carl Darling Buck, A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, 1949, 9.85 'paint', p. 629
  7. ^ G. Princi Braccini, Archivio Glottologico Italiano 64:42-89 (1979), cited by the OED
  8. ^ J. Kramer, Balkan-Archiv 14-15:220-231 (1990), cited by the OED
  9. ^ Linda Civitello (2007). Cuisine and culture: a history of food and people (Paperback ed.). Wiley. p. 98. ISBN 0471741728.