Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whole Wheat Pita Bread and Hummus

On popular demand, I'm posting my recipe for whole wheat pita bread, along with some tips on using yeast. Sorry, no pictures! I'll add some when I make pita again.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread - makes 4

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tbsp active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp salt

Activate yeast by sprinkling it over warm water. Add salt and sift in the flour. Knead until smooth and pliable, just like you'd knead dough for roti.

Divide the dough into four equal portions, and roll them out, like you'd roll out a roti but not too thin, about 2-3 cms thick. Place the rolled out dough on a floured surface and cover with a wet tea towel. Let it rise for one hour.

You can either bake these or cook them on a tawa or fry pan.  Brush a little olive oil on the uncooked bread, place on a tawa and cook both sides on medium heat. Flip the bread over after about 30 seconds. 

The bread should puff up. If it doesn't, its not really pita bread, although you'd still be able to eat it. When you break the pita bread in half, there should be two distinct layers that form a pocket where you can stuff any filling you like.

Hummus - makes about 1-2 cups

2 cups boiled chickpeas
1/4 cup tahini (to make tahini, grind 3-4 tbsp white sesame seeds with 6 tbsp water)
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons
1 tsp salt
2 tsp powdered cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves

Mix everything together in a food processor and blend into a paste. Store in an airtight container. 

To make powdered cumin, dry roast cumin seeds on a fry pan and grind them in a mortar and pestle. 

Tips on using yeast

- When using active, dry yeast (the most common kind available here), always make sure you 'activate' it first. To activate the yeast, sprinkle 1 tbsp yeast over 1/4 cup warm water. Wait for it to turn foamy. If the water doesn't become foamy, the yeast is no good. Active, dry yeast is easily available in all department stores. Some brands of active, dry yeast are Topsal and Solar. 

- Whole wheat yeast dough will NEVER rise as much as an all-purpose flour (maida) yeast dough. This is because the amount of gluten differs in both. You can use all-purpose flour if you want a better rise, but it won't be as healthy. Of course, for things like cinnamon rolls or doughnuts, do not substitute whole wheat flour.

- The temperature of water plays a very important role in activating the yeast. Too cold and the yeast will not activate, and too hot will kill the yeast. You can use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of water, it should be about 110F or between 32C and 38C, or do a finger test. Poke your finger in the water, till it feels hot enough to pull your finger away. That's the temperature you need.

- You can also use fresh yeast instead of active, dry yeast. Fresh yeast is available at Modern Bazaar, Basant Lok Market at Vasant Vihar, Delhi. Fresh yeast has a short shelf life and cannot be stored beyond its expiration date. It comes in blocks of 500gms and is priced at Rs. 85, I think. Break a chunk off from the yeast block, and crumble it over warm water. 

- Do not attempt making bread [i.e. bakery style bread, the one you use for making sandwiches etc] with all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour if you live in India. The flour available in India doesn't have a very high gluten content and does not produce a light, flavorful loaf. Professional bakeries use something called a bread prover, which produces a well risen dough. Deeba Rajpal, of Passionate about Baking, uses something called vital gluten, although am not sure if it's available in India. 

UPDATE: Vital gluten IS available in India through bakery ingredient manufacturers. It usually comes in packets of 10 to 25 kilos, so I don't think it's a good choice for the home baker. I'm still searching for a source that sells vital gluten in smaller quantities.


  1. hey.. didnt understand 1 thing.. u said that dnt attempt to make bread with normal flour if u r in india.. so whch flour did u use?

  2. sorry, the bread I was referencing to is the bakery style bread we use to make sandwiches etc :) you can use maida/atta for making the pita bread.

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