Thursday, June 20, 2013

No-Yeast Middle Eastern Flatbread

I watch reality tv shows.
There. I said it.
I know it's not cool, I know I just lost Whovian points, but yeah. I do.
The Voice? Yup. Hotel Nightmares? Uh huh. MasterChef?  Oh yeah...

My favorite is MasterChef Australia though. Watch MasterChef Australia, and then watch MasterChef (U.S.) and I bet you can see why MCA is so much better.

Since you might have trouble finding an episode of MCA, I'll just tell you the answer: people are nicer. People are kinder. People cheer each other on and help each other cook ("You know that feesh should only take 10 minutes to cook, right mate?"  "Ah, cheers mate.") and the whole group applauds whenever someone else gets  a compliment from the judges. It's just... nicer.  Just because you're competing against someone it doesn't mean that you have to be a jerk about it.

One of the ladies in this year's running of MCA is of Middle Eastern extraction; we know that her husband is Egyptian, but of she herself the website only says "Arabic". Samira el Khafir made an incredible dish called "Chicken & Yoghurt with Almonds & Pine Nuts"--not the fanciest name, but it does what it says on the tin.  There's a flatbread that is a part of the dish that I found intriguing, since it doesn't use yeast, and I'm always on the lookout for bread products that can be made quickly and easily (because yeast breads just take sooo looong; I mean, by the time we decide what we're doing for dinner it's already 630pm, and I should have started the bread like 2 hours ago, but I didn't, because I didn't know we'd want bread, and now it's 7 o'clock and we're grumpy and hungry and ugh, never mind).

I have no idea what this is called. I've looked and looked, and it seems to be related to Afghani bolani (which also looks really good, mind you).  It's a great basic little recipe, and I'm looking forward to making it again with different herbs, spices, and stuffings. PS: I reduced the salt a little because it tasted a little too salty for me.


2 cups of flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ teaspoons of salt
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup of warm water
1/4 cup of oil for cooking

1) Whisk salt & flour together in a large bowl.
2) Slowly add in oil & water and keep mixing until you get dough.
3) Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until mixed evenly. If the dough feels very wet & sticky, add small handfuls of flour until it becomes elastic and sticks to itself instead of your hands. It should naturally form a round blobby shape, not a sticky spiky shape.
4) Divide the dough into 4-6 rounds, put them on a plate or cookie sheet, cover, & let sit for 20 minutes to a half hour. I had kneaded my dough on a large silpat, so I just flipped the edges of the silpat over to cover the dough, and let it sit for a while.
5) Roll out the dough--or just punch it out with your hands--until it's about the size of your largest frying pan. The dough should be pretty thin & soft, almost about to tear.
6) Heat up your largest cooking pan with about 1/4 cup of oil, until the oil is smoking.
7) Cook your bread in the hot oil for about 1-2 minutes on each side, until each side is crisp and golden and lifts up easily. You might want to place these on a paper towel to drain.

Samira uses this exact same recipe to make 14 little dough balls. I have no idea how she did it, because even when I tried to make small dough balls I only came up with about 6 that were dinner roll-sized. I ended up just combining those together to make 4 large flatbreads.

 We tore off pieces of flatbread, filled them with pieces of chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, and dipped in garlic/dill yogurt sauce, and this was a very satisfying home-made replacement for gyros. You can see there's so much room for experimentation with this recipe!

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