Learn how to make this zatar pita recipe, a flavorful and easy to make flatbread that pairs perfectly with Middle Eastern foods.The best pita I ever experienced in the Middle East was baked in an outdoor oven called a taboun, a rectangular tin box open at the front except for a narrow firebox at one end. Inside the taboun is a manually operated revolving wheel on which the pita is baked, each pita passing through the flames in turn until it is lightly browned and the zatar-and-olive-oil coating is sizzling. To experience the ultimate pita-with-zatar, you would either have to rig up a taboun (the results can’t be duplicated in a conventional oven) or visit Kaldia the baker in the Bedouin village of Shibli. Failing these solutions, however, try this simple and wonderful pita recipe.
Zatar Pita Recipe
• 1 tablespoon baking yeast
• 1 scant tablespoon salt
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 3 cups water
• 6 to 7 cups unbleached white flour
• 2 heaping tablespoons zatar spice blend
• 2/3 cup olive oil
1. Mix the zatar with the olive oil and set aside.
2. Mix the yeast, salt, and sugar with 1/2 cup warm water, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes to proof.
3. Add the rest of the water and 4 cups of flour, then mix the dough vigorously, adding flour as needed to make it stiff.
4. Knead 5 minutes, then cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled.
5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch the dough down, cut it into 12 pieces, and roll each out 1/4 inch thick.
6. Place them one at a time on an ungreased cookie sheet, patting each into a roughly round shape. When the cookie sheet is full, gently press your fingertips into the top of the dough to make little indentations, then brush it with the zatar and olive oil.
7. Bake immediately for about 8 minutes. You can freeze uncooked dough immediately, but use it up within a few weeks.
Makes 1 dozen 5- to 7-inch rounds.
For more on zatar spice read the article Growing and Cooking with Zatar Spice.
Jo Ann Gardner of Orangedale, Nova Scotia, is an herb gardener and writer whose perseverance has produced an oasis in the wilderness. Storey Communications recently published her book, The Heirloom Garden, on growing old-fashioned ornamentals.