Saturday, March 19, 2011

Quboos/Whole Wheat Pita (Fullstop)

In Tamil, we've got this famous saying. Kal irundha naye kaanam; naye irundha kal-la kaanam.
Which roughly means, "You've got the stone, but the dog has disappeared; the dog is around, but the stone is nowhere to be found."

OK, it isn't all that famous, and my translation is a bit dodgy. The moral of this pointless/cruel and PETA-anger-incuring story is that I made Chicken Gyros, took plenty of photographs, posted them for you to see and didn't tell you how to make the pita bread/Quboos that is SO crucial for the dish.

It's like having peanut butter and no toast, yogurt and no granola, shawarma without pickled chilli and Nutella without a spoon. Depressing situations I wouldn't wish upon any of you.

Don't not try this bread because it's whole-wheat. Breads have to be whole grain, just like cakes/tarts have to be refined flour. That's the natural order of life and to mess around well-established good things is asking for failure.
Pita is kind of ambiguous on the whole flour-thing, sort of like chapatis are. You can use white, white flour and end up with paranthas/yummy pita. Or use grainy atta and end up with regular roti/yummy pita. I use a mixture of both because just wholewheat flour being used would lead to glutinous, heavy dough. And they aren't pita bread if they aren't "soft-fluffy-light!" brand of delicious.

And since my sarcasm in the middle of the recipe is "distracting", I'll do a little captioned collage-montage-flowchart first, and give you an uninterrupted recipe at the end. Deal?

Most hand-mixers come with the dough hook attachment. If you've lost yours or didn't have them to start with, a big spoon and arm power are decent substitutes.

I used Active Dry Yeast and honey from Coorg. Yeast and honey. A combination that has survived centuries and spawned the thing I love so much: Bread.

And when mixed and kept aside for 5 minutes, it gets foamy. If it doesn't, the yeast isn't Active enough, and you have to start over. Bummer. But yay!, if it does.

After the minimum flour has been added and left to bubble up some more.

Don't let the sticky mess deter you. Just add lashings of flour until you can form a dough ball.

Make sure the bowl is oiled/greased. Sticky messes stop being fun after the first five minutes.

The dough has risen. I wish I had an inkling about photography/perspective to show you the difference in the size. But from the indentations I've made with my thumb, you can see that it's poofy and big, right?

It'll be nice if you can divide them into 8 equal balls. If you don't, just tell the person with the smallest pita that Life isn't always fair and neither are you.

See how much maida I've added to the work surface? Little by little, add until it stops sticking to the marbletop/work surface.

Rolling out pita into the size of a small scale. 15 cm, 7 inches, max, I should think.

Ideally, you'd let them rise with kitchen towels over them, but I don't have 8 clean kitchen towels laying around, so I improv'd it with newspaper and covered with more newspaper.

I'm sorry the picture sucks. I can't deal with cameras and red-hot fire at the same time. I don't like 2nd to 3rd degree burns. They hurt like a bitch. Just make sure the baking tray is preheated and HOT, so the pitas start cooking the second they're put on it.

Whole Wheat Pitas:


2-1/2 tsps Active Dry Yeast
1 Tbsp honey/sugar
1 1/4 cups warm water (around 40 to 50 degree C)
1 1/2 cups All-purpose flour (maida), plus additional for kneading
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (Atta)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt


In a bowl, mix together 1/2 cup warm water, yeast and honey until all the yeast bits are completely dissolved.
Set aside for 5 minutes, you should have foam on the top.

Add 1/4 cup of All-purpose flour and 1/4 cup of Wholewheat flour into the yeast mix, whisk until well combined. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set it aside in the warmest part of your kitchen for 45 minutes. The dough should have doubled in bulk.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Transfer the dough onto a marble top or work surface that has been strewn with flour. Keep kneading for 8-10 minutes. I used my dough hook attachment to knead. The dough should be smooth and pliable at the end of it.

Transfer the kneaded dough ball onto a bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap or a lid or a kitchen towel and let it rise until doubled in size. This should take 1 hour maximum, at Madras.

Punch down the risen dough. Divide into 8 equal balls.

Flatten each ball, roll it out in the manner of a roti with a floured rolling pin. Transfer them to clean surfaces or foil and cover with a clean kitchen towel/newspaper and let them rise for 30 minutes. Make sure the plastic or whatever has been floured, or it may stick.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Celcius or 500 degrees Farenheit. If you have a pizza stone, put it in. Or improvise a stone out of a baking tray and foil. They should be preheated as well/

Transfer each pita onto the baking dish. Bake for 2 minutes, until it puffs up like a poori. Turn it over with tongs or a spatula and bake for a minute more.

Cool for a couple of minutes. Serve warm or keep them in a bread basket, well-wrapped.

Recipe Source: adapted from Gourmet Magazine, by Confections of a Foodie Bride.
You can store left-over pitas in an airtight box for 48 hours. Or cut them up like the spokes of a wheel into triangular shapes and make pita chips to eat with hummus.

Think of it this way. Once you make bread, you've crossed off an important point in your 30 Things Before 30 list.


  1. I've made bread, so I've crossed it off my list, but it's one of those things you have to keep making.

  2. My next project is to make Cinnamon Rolls! I wanted to make croissants, until I read the bit about how about butter it requires!