|Place of origin||Middle East|
|Main ingredients||Flour, water, yeast, salt|
|Cookbook: Pita Media: Pita|
Pita ( or ) in Greek, sometimes spelled pitta (mainly UK), also known as Arabic bread, Lebanese bread, or Syrian bread, is a soft, slightly leavened flatbread baked from wheat flour, which originated in Western Asia, 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, Central and South Asian flatbreads (such as naan), and pizza crust.
The first known mention of the word in English was in 1936. The English word is borrowed from Modern Greek ?, in turn from the Byzantine Greek ? "bread, cake, pie, pitta" (attested in 1108) and possibly from the Ancient Greek or "pitch/resin" (for the gloss), or Ancient Greek (pikte), "fermented pastry", which may have passed to Latin as "picta" cf. pizza. It was received into Levantine Arabic (as fatteh, since Arabic lacks the sound /p/). Other hypotheses trace the word back to the Classical Hebrew word patt (literally "a morsel of bread"). It is spelled like the Aramaic pitt/pitt? (?), from which it was received into Byzantine Greek (see above). Hypotheses also exist for Germanic or Illyrian intermediaries.
The word has been borrowed by Turkish as pide, and appears in the Balkan languages as Serbo-Croatian pita, Romanian pit?, Albanian pite, Bulgarian pitka or pita. In Arabic, the phrase (pita bread) is sometimes used; other names are simply 'khubz, bread' or 'Arab bread' or 'al-kimaj bread'. In Egypt, it is called ?aish () or ?aish baladi ( ?).
Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450-475 °F (232-246 °C)), which turns the water in the dough into steam, thus causing the pita to puff up and form a pocket. 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". Regardless of whether it is made at home or in a commercial bakery, pita is proofed for a very short time--only 15 minutes.
Nowadays, modern commercial pita bread is prepared on advanced automatic lines. These lines have high production capacities, processing 100,000 pound (45,000 kg) silos of flour at a time and producing thousands of loaves per hour. The ovens used in commercial baking are much hotter than traditional clay ovens--800-900 °F (427-482 °C)--so each loaf is only baked for one minute. The pita are then air-cooled for about 20 minutes on conveyor belts before being shipped immediately or else stored in commercial freezers kept at a temperature of 10 °F (-12 °C).
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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 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.
Pita bread originated in the Middle East and is also known as Arabic, Syrian, and pocket bread.
The history of pita bread dates back about five thousand years. Its origin is Mesopotamia.