Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Arabian Lunch: How to make pita bread and hummus

This month is a little tight, so instead of going out to eat I'm adding some foods to my skill-set.

Hummus, pita, greek salad, fried eggplant and stove-top pudding for dessert.

I like this recipe I found for pita:


  • 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast


  1. Place all ingredients in bread pan of your bread machine, select Dough setting and start. When dough has risen long enough, machine will beep.
  2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently roll and stretch dough into a 12 inch rope. With a sharp knife, divide dough into 8 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball. With a rolling pin, roll each ball into a 6 to 7 inch circle. Set aside on a lightly floured countertop. cover with a towel. Let pitas rise about 30 minutes until slightly puffy.
  3. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Place 2 or 3 pitas on a wire cake rack. Place cake rack directly on oven rack. Bake pitas 4 to 5 minutes until puffed and tops begin to brown. Remove from oven and immediately place pitas in a sealed brown paper bag or cover them with a damp kitchen towel until soft. Once pitas a softened, either cut in half or split top edge for half or whole pitas. They can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for several days or in the freezer for 1 or 2 months.

I don't have a wire cake rack - so I've just been placing the pitas on my pizza stone. Sometimes they puff, sometimes they don't. It's currently an ongoing experiment. 

 For the hummus I loosely followed this recipe

  • 1 16 oz can of chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 1/4 cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 3-5 tablespoons lemon juice (depending on taste)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

I put all the ingredients in my blender and blended away. What's great is how cheap both these dishes are. 
The cans of chickpeas run less than 75 cents a can, a tub of tahnini sauce at Trader Joe's costs around $2.50 and has enough for more than five batches of hummus. Most people have olive oil, salt, garlic, and lemon juice on hand. The pita's probably cost around 3 cents a piece to make (I buy huge bags of flowers from Winco). I made enough dough so I can make pita through out the week and I have enough hummus to last a while as well.
My vegetarian friend, Kari, came over to enjoy this meal with me. I have a hard time cooking vegetarian, but hummus is a great protein and so easy and delicious. It's high in protein and vitamins and low in saturated fats. Also, my husband isn't allergic to it (like he is to most beans and tofu). Here's an article about the health benefits of hummus.
The greek salad was also cheap and easy, spinach ($1.99 a bag at TJ's), feta, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Eggplants were pretty cheap at TJ's, so i cut up half of a long one and fried it in olive oil with salt and pepper. We had the other half for dinner. We ate like Arabian queens for a little less than $5! Good deal. 
We sipped Arabic tea i picked up at The Red Sea Food Market off Florin. I also purchased some "starch pudding" which I made on the stove and served with cinnamon from the lovely Palistinian shopkeeper who humored me when I spoke Arabic to him. 
I can read those labels in Arabic!!!! So proud of myself.

I also purchased some Turkish coffee and the shopkeep told me how to make it. I've been enjoying the thick concentrated caffeine drink, but it's difficult to make properly without an appropriate coffee pot.
So I have my eye out for a Turkish coffee set, maybe something like this:


Christine Thomas said...

What is starch pudding? I'm going to try out your hummus recipe, too. And maybe...just maybe...try the pita recipe...someday. You make it all sound so good.

Peter Hogan said...

Oh my Allah, that looks delicious. I never knew how much I loved Middle Eastern food until I ate at a Lebanese place here in Dar Es Salam.
They're cuisine is quite scrumptious.

Vinisha said...

Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

Pizza Roller Machine


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