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Pita or pitta also known as Arabic breadLebanese bread or Syrian bread, is a soft, slightly leavened flatbread baked from wheat flour that originated in the Near East, most probably Mesopotamia around 2500 BC. 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, Central Asian naan, and pizza crust.

Etymology Edit

Pita is a Modern Hebrew word (pittāh פיתה), originating from the Classical Hebrew word patt פת (literally "a morsel of bread"). It is spelled like the Aramaic pittəṭā/pittā, from which it was received into Byzantine Greek and later into Levantine Arabic (as fatteh, because the letter "p" is not pronouncable in Arabic).

The first known mention of the word in English was in 1936. The English word is borrowed from Modern Greek πίτα. These all probably come from the Byzantine Greek πίτα 'bread, cake, pie, pitta' (attested in 1108). Some sources trace it to the Ancient Greek πίττα or πίσσα 'pitch/resin', while others characterize this as "unlikely" and trace it to Latin picta 'painted', itself supposedly from Greek πηκτή 'congealed'. Other hypotheses trace it to Germanic or Illyrian.

The word has been borrowed by Turkish as pide, 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" '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).

Preparation Edit

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 theoven, 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

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, 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. Used for souvlakia, sheftalia, halloumi with lountza, and gyros.

In Egyptian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Israeli, Lebanese, Palestinian, and Syrian cuisine, almost every savory dish can be eaten in or on a pita. Common fillings include falafel, lamb or chickenshawarma, 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.

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