As I mentioned earlier, think of a leavened chappathi and you have some idea of what a pita is. There are people who make pita with all-purpose flour, with whole wheat flour or a mixture of both. I like to make my breads with a 2 : 1 ratio of all-purpose to whole wheat flour and this one is no exception.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tbsp oil
2 tsp honey
2 tsp active dry yeast
about 1 1/2 cups water (warm water is not necessary)
You can do this by hand, but I always look for the method that means least effort for me, which in this case means my food processor.
Put the flours, salt, oil, honey and yeast in the processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix well. Whisk them together if you are kneading by hand. Then add a cup of the water and pulse until everything comes together as a ball, adding as much more water as necessary. You do not need warm water here, so use water that is at room temperature.
Knead further until the dough is very soft and elastic, but is not sticky. Shape the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, rolling the dough in the bowl so it is well coated with the oil. Cover and keep aside to rise till double, for about 1 1/2 hours.
Once doubled, punch the dough to release some of the air and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth ball. Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out the ball to about 1/4" to 1/8” thick (not as thin as a chappathi). If your dough does not roll out well let it rest for about 20 minutes and the roll it out again.
Let the rolled out pitas rest for about 10 minutes and then bake them on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal or semolina at 220C (430F) for about 5 to 6 minutes till well puffed up and cooked. If you want crisp pitas you can bake them a little longer, but for making Gyros you need the pitas to be soft.
Place them on a tack or a clean cotton towel to cool so they do not become soggy. This recipe makes 8 pita breads.
Tandoori Panner Tikka
While paneer is not really the stuff that one would find in a Gyro, I thought it was a good replacement for the traditional meat. It is also a protein and a good way to add a Indian spicy twist to my vegetarian Gyro. Cooking it in the tandoori style also seemed a nice way of trying to keep with the origins of the Gyro (Turkey/ Greece) as the tandoori style of cooking came into India from thereabouts.
While the ingredient list for the marinade may seem extensive and a bit daunting, making Tandoori Paneer Tikka is really quite easy. For those of you who are new to this, Paneer Tandoori Tikka means spicy (tikka) paneer cooked in Tandoori style. Of course, the average home cook like me doesn’t usually have a tandoor in their kitchen so an oven, a grill or the stove top is just fine to cook this.
Tandoori Paneer Tikka
Tzatziki (Greek Cucmber Salad in Yogurt)
Somehow the word “Tzatziki” brings to my mind, images of men dressed in long white embroidered, pleated and skirted shirts, stockinged legs kicking out their legs while performing intricate dance steps! I’m probably confusing it with some other word, and I don’t know which.
Tzatziki is Greek, and is a cooling cucumber and yogurt sauce-like preparation that’s a lot like the North Indian raita. It is also an essential part of the Gyro.
It is important that the texture of Tzatziki is thick. So both the cucumber and the yogurt should not release liquid to make it watery. So the cucumber is sprinkled with salt to draw out the liquid from it before making Tzatziki.
If you do not have thick yogurt on hand, just put regular plain yogurt in a cotton or muslin cloth and hang it up for a couple of hours in the fridge or a cool place to drain out the liquid. The hung yogurt will be thick and creamy.
The true Greek Tzatziki is a somewhat bland preparation but perfect to balance out the other elements of the Gyro. Honey is not an ingredient used to make Tzatziki but I found adding a little gave mine a hint of sweetness which tasted good.
Tzatziki (Greek Cucumber Salad In Yogurt)
The Gyro Sandwich:
Assembling The Gyro:
Whichever way you look at it, I think the Gyro is a winner!
The Gyro makes for a very well balanced and filling meal. From a nutritional point of view, there’s a nice balance of carbohydrates, protein and some fat and this is a sandwich full of the goodness of vegetables. It’s also a sandwich you can get kids (and adults) to eat very easily without actively stressing on “healthy”. I now because my daughter was actually willing to eat the salad part of it, including the cucumbers which was a first.
There’s also the contrast of soft to crunchy and the spicy-sour-sweet taste combinations that are always crowd pleasers.
Each part of what goes into a Gyro (the pita bread, Tzatziki, Tandoori Paneer Tikka and the other fillings) can all be made ahead so putting together this sandwich doesn’t take much time. In fact, if you would like to deviate from the traditional fillings of the Gyro, then this is a great dish to serve at an informal party or take on a picnic.
Just add some more vegetables like julienned carrot, sweet corn, maybe some potato crisps and maybe some other sweet and sour sauces. Place the sauces and fillings in individual bowls with the pita rounds on the side so that everyone can make their own Gyro with whatever they want in it!
The four of us ( Alessio , Asha , Pamela and I) go Velveteering , as we like to call our kitchen adventures, with a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine every month. Each of us will share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs.
If you would like to join us, please leave a comment at this post or send me a mail and we’ll get back to you.
This month’s Velveteers recipes:
Rajani : Veggie Jai-ros..eh Yee-rows..eh Gyros
Sarah : Lamb Kebabs And Pitta Bread