Every restaurant I visited in Dubai included hummus (chickpea paste), baba ghanoush (a Middle Eastern puree of eggplant), tzatziki (Greek dip of cucumber and yoghurt), tabbouleh (Lebanese salad of bulgur wheat and vegetables) and fattoush (Levantine salad with toasted pita bread) on the menu. All were served with pita bread and accompanied main courses of chicken, lamb and or fish. Dried limes and spices were the norm as were goat’s cheese, eggs, olives, honey, fruit, almonds and dates. A favourite of mine, the most popular dessert in the UAE, was UmAli which means “queen of puddings”. Scrumptious!
Yields : +- 12
1 pkt or 10g Instant Yeast
120 ml Lukewarm Water
3 ½ cups Cake Flour
1 ½ t fine Salt
1 t White Sugar
250 ml lukewarm Water
15-30 ml Olive Oil
Extra Cake Flour
1) Heat your oven to 200˚C and place a rack on the lowest part of the oven. Flour a large pan and put into the oven to get hot. Removing all other racks for easy access
2) Add the instant yeast to the 125 ml lukewarm water and allow to sponge for 10 minutes
3) Mix the cake flour, salt and sugar together
4) Make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Then add, slowly, the 250 ml lukewarm water to this. This mixture must be quiet sticky almost runny as this will allow the pitas to come alive and ‘pop’ on baking.
5) Place this dough onto a floured counter top and knead for 10 minutes or so until the dough is smooth and elastical. (Keep the counter covered in flour and your hands dusted in flour. Continue adding flour to make it possible for you to knead for the 10 minutes but nothing extra, as it will change the consistency of the bread too much.)
6) After kneading put into an oiled bowl and cover with a cloth. Place in a warm spot to rise.
7) When doubled in size, knock the dough back, and make a large sausage shape and pinch and pull off small ball sizes from this. Sizes of about 50 g. Place these individual ball shapes onto a floured tray, with a cloth to cover, and allow resting for 10 minutes in a warm area.
8) Flour a surface and roll round pitas out thinly. Bake in the hot oven for a few minutes until crispy and golden in colour. (You may require less cooking depending on what you prefer.)
9) Fattoush can be made with left over Pita bread. The Pita can be toasted and combined with mixed greens and other chunky vegetables. Often Sumac, a tangy purple spice, is added to Fattoush to give it its sour taste.
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I look forward to hearing from you.