Indian food is one of those things I rarely if ever make at home, unless it’s “Indian spiced” or something that only tastes something like Indian food but is nothing like the palak paneer, tikka masala, samosas or naan you can get from your favorite Indian restaurant. Last night I made Indian food. I tried a chicken tikka masala recipe in the slow cooker and it turned out to be pretty tasty. As it was cooking I realized I’d forgotten bread at the store. So, I decided to make my own.
I know I should have made naan. I know that pita is typically not served at Indian restaurants, but that naan or roti are the breads on the menu. But as I started looking for recipes, pita just seemed simpler, and I desperately needed something simple. This recipe is from an about.com article about Middle Eastern Food. Here is the link.
The dough had me in doubt from the very beginning. It never came together or pulled away from the sides of the bowl, so I had to add more flour. After adding about 1/2 cup I deemed it worthy to come out of the mixer and start rising. Still incredibly sticky. I managed to get it safely into its bowl, covered and ready to rise, but had to do some serious hand and fingernail scrubbing to get the sticky dough cleaned up. It rose nicely but still looked sticky, so I floured my surface very generously. Good thing, because I still needed to have my flour jar close at hand while I rolled out the dough into a long rope and then as I rolled the 10 pita breads.
After that though, the baking was a breeze and the results were rewarding and well worth the messy hands. I would try this recipe again with more flour from the outset, but not too much. You can always add flour as you’re rolling out your dough, but you can’t take it away.
Pita dough balls before rolling.
Puffed pitas in the oven.
The only special tool you may need is a pizza stone. You can use a regular baking sheet, but at high temps a pizza stone is the best choice.
I am thrilled about the fact that these came out so well! Ben will tell you that I commented on this more than once last night during dinner. A package of pitas, while convenient, isn’t nearly as yummy or as cheap as these guys. Another benefit is that since these are hand rolled you have a much more exciting variety of shapes than those boring circles you get in the package!
Easy Pita Bread
- 1 package yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 1/2-4 cups flour (plus more for dusting)
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup warm water
- Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.
- Combine flour and salt in large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Make a small well in the middle of the flour and pour yeast water in the well.
- Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.
- Place dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes OR mix on medium speed until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. When the dough is no longer sticky and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded. (This may not quite happen for you, add a bit more flour but you can just transfer it to the bowl to rise, it will be fine.)
- Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated.
- Allow to sit in a warm place, covered with a clean towel for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 500°F and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Preheat your pizza stone in the oven.
- Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick.
- Bake 3 circles at a time for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 additional minutes.
- Remove each pita with a spatula from the stone and add additional pitas for baking. Take spatula and gently push down the puff. Keep baked pitas covered with a clean towel while you bake the rest.