6 January 2011

{My favourite dish...}

It's funny how dishes we consider typical of one country, can be closely related to a dish in another country. But the truth is that very few dishes originate from one country only.

Take komla for instance. In Norway, we consider it 'purely Norwegian'; traditional and typical. But it's very closely related to the Knödel of the German-speaking world, and the Cepelinai in Lithuania. After all, grating potatoes, adding flour and salt, and forming them into dumplings is not brain surgery.

In Northern Germany, the Labskaus is a traditional dish, often eaten with bread. In Norway we have the Lapskaus – almost identical – but we eat it with flatbread. In France, pastry such as les chouquettes is similar to the Norwegian vannbakkels.

Both the Italians and the Chinese cut doughs into strips, which are then cooked and turned into spaghetti or noodles, respectively. Dumplings, although often thought of as purely Chinese, exist in many cultures around the world.

The same can be said about pita bread.
 
Honestly, if the Greek economy was as good as their food, they'd be as rich as Creuses.

 
                               
Although pita bread is often catagorized as purely Greek, it's a typical dish all over the Mediterranean and the Middle East, from Jerusalem to Athens. That said, the stuffing and condiments within the pita differs in each region.



Pita literally mean ''cake'' or ''pie'' in Medieval Greek ( πίτα.) Most pita are baked at high temperatures, ususally 230ºC +, which causes the flattened rounds  of dough to puff up dramatically. This creates a pocket in      which food can be stuffed.                                            

In Turkey, pita (called pide), has a soft, chewy texture and is pocketless. In Greece, pita is eaten with dips such as tzatziki, and is a component of pita-souvlaki and pita-gyros. These types of sandwiches involve the wrapping of souvlaki or gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers and condiments into a pita bread

                                       The two pictures above are taken from Wikipedia

Pita is an extremely common dish in the former Yugoslavia, and is used as a general term for different pastries. In Bosnia, among the local Muslims, a specially prepared somun with egg yolk and seasonings is a traditional bread for dinners the fast in the month of Ramadan. In some areas it is known as 'Pita sa' (Pita with)... mesom (meat), sirom (cheese), etc.

In Israeli and Palestinean cuisine, it is custom to eat almost everything in pita, from falafel, lamb or chicken shawarma and kebab, omlets such as shakshouka and hummus and other salads. 

                                                     Picture borrowed

Lately I've made pita bread almost every weekend (!) instead of making my usual pizza. I find pita bread in many ways more appealing, as you can stuff fresh vegetables in the pita, without having to make a salad.

I usually chop fresh pineapples, black olives, salads, paprika, tomatoes, onions and garlic, as well as feta cheese, 'regular' cheese and fried chicken or lamb. Instead of buying a sauce, I like to make red or green pesto – sometimes both – from scratch, but if you don't have time to make pesto, I prefer salsa as a better substitution than ketchup. Tzatziki is also good, especially with lamb. 
                                         
This recipe makes 16 pitabreads. Depending on how long you let them heave, their size varies from large to small. This recipe is from Ingrid Espelid.

{Pita}

*Ingredients*
5 dl water
50g fresh yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1.3 litre flour

1.Warm the water to 37° C and mix with the yeast, until it's not lumpy. Add salt.

2.Next, add most of the flour, but remember to save some flour for later. Divide the dough into 16 parts (ball-shaped). Let heave for more or less 30 minutes. 





3.Roll the balls of dough as flat as possible in oval shapes. Place them on a lightly floured baking tray and let heave for another 30 minutes.

4..Place the baking tray in the middle on the oven at 250 C for 7 – 10 minutes. 

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