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Nablus souq pita 118 - Aug 2011.jpg
Place of origin Middle East
Main ingredients Flour, water, yeast, salt
Cookbook: Pita  Media: Pita
In many languages, the word 'pita' refers not to flatbread, but to flaky pastries; see börek.

Pita (/ˈpɪtə/ or US: /ˈptə/)[1] in Greek, sometimes spelled Pitta (mainly UK), also known as Arabic bread, Lebanese bread, or Syrian bread,[2][3][4] is a soft, slightly leavened flatbread baked from wheat flour, which originated in Western Asia,[4][5] most probably Mesopotamia around 2500 BC.[6] It is used in many Mediterranean, Balkan, and Middle Eastern cuisines, and resembles other slightly leavened flatbreads such as Iranian nan-e barbari, Central and South Asian flatbreads (such as naan), and pizza crust.


The first known mention of the word in English was in 1936.[7] The English word is borrowed from Modern Greek πίτα, in turn from the Byzantine Greek πίτα "bread, cake, pie, pitta" (attested in 1108)[7] and possibly from the Ancient Greek πίττα or πίσσα "pitch/resin" (for the gloss),[8][9] or Ancient Greek πικτή (pikte), "fermented pastry," which may have passed to Latin as "picta" cf. pizza.[10][11] It was received into Levantine Arabic (as fatteh, since Arabic lacks the sound /p/).[7] Other hypotheses trace the word back to the Classical Hebrew word patt פת (literally "a morsel of bread").[citation needed] It is spelled like the Aramaic pittəṭā/pittā (פיתה), from which it was received into Byzantine Greek (see above). Hypotheses also exist for Germanic[12] or Illyrian intermediaries.[13]

The word has been borrowed by Turkish as pide,[14] and appears in the Balkan languages as Serbo-Croatian pita, Romanian pită, Albanian pite, Bulgarian pitka or pita. In Arabic, the phrase خبز البيتا (pita bread) is sometimes used; other names are simply خبز 'khubz, bread' or الخبز العربي 'Arab bread' or خبز الكماج 'al-kimaj bread'.[15] In Egypt, it is called ʿaish (عيش) or ʿaish baladi (عيش بلدي).[16]


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

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, modern commercial pita bread is prepared on advanced automatic lines. These lines have high production capacities, up to thousands per hour.

Culinary use[edit]

Arabic bread (Pita).

Pita can be used to scoop sauces or dips, such as hummus or 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, and condiments into a pita bread. Pita is also the name of a type of pastry found throughout Greece, filled with a variety of ingredients. Some examples of these pies are Kolokythopita (filled with pumpkin), Mizithropita (mizithra cheese filling - a specialty of Crete), Melintzanopita (eggplant filling), Tsouknidopita (stinging nettle filling), Kremydopita (onion filling), Kreatopita (meat pie), Galatopita (custard filling), Marathopita (fennel filling), Tyropita (egg and cheese filling), Spanakopita (spinach and feta filling), and Ladopita (semolina pie).

In Cyprus, pita is typically rounder, fluffier and baked on a cast iron skillet. It is used for souvlakia, sheftalia, halloumi with lountza, and gyros.

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

In Turkish cuisine, the word pide may refer to three different styles of bread: a flatbread similar to that eaten in Greece and Arab countries, a pizza-like dish where the filling is placed on the (often boat-shaped) dough before baking, and Ramazan pide. The first type of pide is used to wrap various styles of kebab, while the second is topped with cheese, ground meat, or other fresh or cured meats, and/or vegetables. Regional variations in the shape, baking technique, and toppings create distinctive styles for each region.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Pita". Cambridge English Pronouncing Dictionary (18th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 2011. 
  2. ^ Wright, Clifford A. (2003). Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors D'Oeuvre, Meze, and More. p. 61. 
  3. ^ Serna-Saldivar, Sergio O. (2012). Cereal Grains: Laboratory Reference and Procedures Manual. p. 215. 
  4. ^ a b Stewart, Jean E. & Tamaki, Junko Alice (1992). Composition of foods: baked products : raw, processed, prepared. 8. United States Department of Agriculture, Nutrition Monitoring Division. p. 6. Pita bread originated in the Middle East and is also known as Arabic, Syrian, and pocket bread. 
  5. ^ Elasmar, Michael G. (2014). The Impact of International Television: A Paradigm Shift. p. 188. 
  6. ^ Parsons School of Design (1973). Parsons Bread Book. p. 25. The history of pita bread dates back about five thousand years. Its origin is Mesopotamia. 
  7. ^ a b c Oxford English Dictionary (Third ed.). 2006. 
  8. ^ Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Λεξικό της κοινής Νεοελληνικής
  9. ^ Liddell & Scott &Jones. A Greek–English Lexicon. 
  10. ^ Babiniotis, Georgios (2005). Λεξικό της Νέας Ελληνικής Γλώσσας [Dictionary of Modern Greek] (in Greek). Lexicology Centre. p. 1413. ISBN 960-86190-1-7. 
  11. ^ The connection between picta and πηκτή is not supported by the OED s.v. 'picture' nor by Buck, Carl Darling, A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages (1949). 9.85 "paint", p. 629
  12. ^ Bracvini, G. Princi (1979). Archivio Glottologico Italiano. 64. pp. 42–89.  Cited by the OED.
  13. ^ Kramer, J. (1990). Balkan-Archiv. 14-15. pp. 220–231.  Cited by the OED.
  14. ^ Civitello, Linda (2007). Cuisine and culture: a history of food and people (Paperback ed.). Wiley. p. 98. ISBN 0471741728. 
  15. ^ Cauvain, Stanley (2015). Technology of Breadmaking. New York: Springer. p. 232. ISBN 978-3-319-14687-4. 
  16. ^ Bard, Kathryn A. (2005). Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt. London: Routledge. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-134-66525-9. 

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