Pita, pitta or pitta (pron.: /ˈpitə/ or pron.: /ˈpɪtə/) is a round pocket bread widely consumed in many Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Balkan cuisines. It is prevalent in Cyprus, Greece, the Balkans, North Africa, the Levant, Iran, Armenia, Turkey, and parts of the Indian Subcontinent. The "pocket" in pita bread is created by steam, which puffs up the dough. As the bread cools and flattens, a pocket is left in the middle. In the Balkans, especially Greece, pita also refers to various pastries otherwise called börek.
Puffed up, freshly baked pita bread on a conveyor belt
Pita is a slightly leavened wheat bread, flat, either round or oval, and variable in size. Its history extends far into antiquity, since flatbreads in general, whether leavened or not, are among the most ancient breads, requiring no oven or utensils to make.
The term used for the bread in English is a loanword from Greek, pita (πίτα), probably derived from the Ancient Greek pēktos (πηκτός), meaning "solid" or "clotted". In the Arabic world, pita is a foreign word, all breads are called khubz (ordinary bread), and specifically this bread is known as khubz arabi (Arabic bread). The tenth-century Arab cookery book, Kitab al-Tabikh by ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, includes six recipes for khubz, all baked in a tannur oven.
Pita is used to scoop sauces or dips such as hummus and to wrap kebabs, gyros or falafel in the manner of sandwiches. Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450 °F or 232 °C), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened into pockets, creating a space for use in various dishes.
Much of pita's popularity in the Western world since the 1970s is due to expanded use of the pocket for a type of sandwich. Instead of using pita to scoop foods, people fill the pocket with various ingredients to form a sandwich. These are sometimes called "pita pockets" or "pocket pitas". Pita bread has also gained popularity as a quick and easy substitute for a traditional pizza base.
Pita chips are a baked bread made from pita bread, often seasoned. They are crunchier and thicker than most chips. They are available in different flavors and can be a substitute for regular tortilla chips.
In Greece, pita is a major component of pita-souvlaki. These types of sandwiches involve the wrapping of souvlaki or gyros with tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, sometimes french fries, and condiments into a pita bread. Pita has a soft, chewy texture and is pocketless.
Turkish pita recipes include the following: Plain pita is used for serving some kebabs on it such as Döner kebap, İskender kebap, Şiş kebap, Adana kebabı, Urfa Kebabı, Yoğurtlu kebap (Kebab with yogurt), and Tokat kebabı and making some sandwiches. Also made in Turkey are the pizza-like foods called lahmacun. They are made with round-shaped pieces of thin Arabian pita dough topped with finely chopped meat and herbs before baking until crispy.
In Turkey, local pita is called pide which also refers to another pizza-like food made of pide dough topped with different ingredients. Regional variations in the shape, baking technique, and topped materials create distinctive styles for each region. Such pides may include pastırma, sucuk, chicken, chopped or ground beef, kavurma (meat, generally mutton or beef, fried with suet and salt and kept for later use), cheese, potatoes, mushrooms and many other ingredients.
Pita stuffed with falafel
In Palestinian, Lebanese, Israeli, Egyptian and Syrians, almost every savory dish can be eaten in a pita, from falafel, lamb or chicken shawarma, kebab, omelettes such as shakshouka (eggs and tomatoes), hummus and other mezes.