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Erez Komarovsky

Lesson time 34 min

Pita – the deliciously edible envelope – can be stuffed with almost anything. Learn from Erez in this unique lesson how to bake the Middle Eastern staple in your home oven, and how you can turn the pliable pita dough into Sficha and Manakeesh, two Middle-Eastern pizzas.

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(vibrant music) (fire crackling) – When I started to bake, I knew how to roast tomatoes. I knew how to use herbs. I knew how to combine spices. So I merged this knowledge into the baking, and excellent breads came out because of that. (vibrant music) Okay, we’re going to do a pita bread today. What is pita? Pita is a flat bread that we use in the Middle East, in Israel, in all of the area, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Egypt. We all have slightly different pitas. And I’m going to teach a lovely recipe that is so easy you’re going to die. (vibrant music) First we need flour. So we take one kilogram of flour and we’re taking yeast, 30 grams of fresh yeast. Add them into the flour. We coat the yeast with the flour, while sifting it between your fingers. So there won’t be any clumps of yeast. If you don’t have fresh yeast, you just have to put one tablespoon of a dry yeast. It’s better to use a focaccia flour. You can even use flour with a lot of gluten, a lot of protein, so the pita will be nice and airy. Airy “without the ‘h’ but with my Israeli accent.” Okay, so now all the yeast are coated with the flour. (water gushing) 700 milliliters of water and we put some sugar, 30 grams of sugar. You can use a cane sugar, brown sugar or white sugar 30 grams, you see? Exactly 30 grams, okay It is not a science baking. I’m just mixing it together, making a hole inside the flour. Then I put not all of the water. I leave something like, 10% inside. And I start kneading. Okay. And now I’m adding a little more of water. (bowl rattling) One hand stays relatively clean. I just rotate the bowl, with the clean hand. You see, I didn’t put all the water to begin with, and I’m just adding more water along the kneading process. And now I start really kneading. You see my, the movement is like this? I’m trying to relax my shoulder, so it won’t be that hard. You don’t have to be Schwarzenegger in order to do it. If you feel that your muscles are getting tired, that’s good that means that you need to wait a little bit, because also the muscles of the dough, the gluten, the protein, are getting tense and it will be much better for the dough if you let it take a rest. (panting) (bowl rattling) (dough plopping) This dough will make a 14 pitas. And I knead it for eight minutes, around eight minutes. (jazzy music) I’m going to add the salt. One tablespoon. And now after I put the salt, I knead it for another three, four minutes. (soft jazzy music) It’s always good to work with this dough scraper, so you can clean the surface all the time. Especially when you work with wet doughs. This is not a wet dough, though. This is not a wet dough, though. Wow. And now I am returning it to the bowl. Adding the olive oil. (vibrant music) And I just knead till it’s all incorporated into the dough. (vibrant music) (bowl clanking) You see it took the dough, it took the oil. So I’m adding the olive oil so it will give it a beautiful, slight flavor to the pita bread. And our dough is ready. I put some olive oil in the bowl. And I pour some olive oil on top. And I just cover it completely with the olive oil. (water trickling) And now I’m going to cover it with the plastic bag and let it stand and rise for the first rise for 45 minutes. Okay. So let’s put it here. Let’s clean the surface, okay. (gentle music) And now we are going to put tomatoes into the taboon, the wood-fired taboon for the Sficha. (gentle Middle Eastern music) (fire crackling) Sficha is like our Middle Eastern pizza. Okay, so let’s put some tomatoes in. Let’s wash the tomatoes. ( water trickling) Let’s put some olive oil there. Some salt, And let’s go into the oven. Okay, So let’s put it into the oven. ( metal crackling ) Very nice. If you don’t have a wood-fired oven at home buy one and if you don’t want to buy one, you can do it in a regular oven. Just heat your oven to the maximum temperature it can get. If you want to do it over the direct flame you just place a metal grid on top of gas flame and you place it on top. In an a Wood-fired oven, it takes a maximum of 10 minutes. For the tomatoes to be completely charged from the outside, let’s leave them here. ( fire sizzling) Okay, now you’re going to see what I’m going to do. Okay. We’re going to make the lamb for the Sficha. So let’s start. Let’s take the meat. Okay, so this is leg of lamb with ribcage. And we’re going to just, chop it together. ( knife clanking) See how much fat we put. Fat, it adds a lot of flavor, and it keeps the meat from drying. And now we’re going to take this beautiful knife, traditional knife. And we are going to slice and cut . This is a Turkish knife. You know the Turks ruled here for 400 years and they left us a few things that are gorgeous. If you don’t have this knife, you can do it also with this kind of knife, A regular knife, okay. And just do it the same. It’s not as easy as this one because of its weight you see? You roughly chop it. Okay, and that’s it. (spark ticking) We’re taking the skillets, taking the onion. We’re peeling it. And now we’re going to do the topping with the lamb for the Sficha. We chop the onion finely. ( knife clanking) Something like this. (knife clanking) Okay. (knife clanking) Now let’s take some garlic, some garlic cloves. And we’re going to slice them, later on. (knife clanking) Okay, let’s take the tomatoes out of the oven now. Right, Joselito? Right? Right, right, right? ( scraping metal) Oh, look at them. They’re gorgeous looking. Okay, let’s continue to do the stuffing for the Sficha and now we arrive to the Baharat. ( high intensity music) The Baharat is a spice blend. This is a traditional Lebanese Baharat. So we are taking cardamon, allspice. This is nutmeg. The black pepper is somewhere here it is, cinnamon is here okay. We start by crushing the cardamon. Because we have to peel them, ( mortar and pestle clattering ) and we’re taking all the skins out, leaving the inside which is the spice in the mortar. (jazzy music) Now we’re adding, for one tablespoon of black pepper. One table spoon, we’re adding around eight pieces of allspice small amount of nutmeg. Start crushing them. ( mortar clattering) I just felt like we need something rosebuds, rosebuds. Where are you the rosebuds. I really felt that I have to add something into the Baharat. I wanted it to be more like a perfume. Many people don’t like lamb because it has a strong odour. The keys to use baby lamb, before it reaches maturity So it doesn’t have the same smell. And to you use spices that are like perfume, rosebuds, nutmeg, cinnamon. So it overpowers the aroma of the lamb, if it has one. ( vibrant music) Okay, now everything is ready and we are taking the fat. And we are going to cut it. We’re going to fry the onions, in the fat you can use olive oil if you want. Place the fat inside the skillet. ( fat sizzling) (gentle music) And now we’re adding the onions, (food sizzling) And now we’re adding the garlic, once you have adding the garlic, you have to move fast and add the meat so it won’t burn. And immediately the meat, that we chopped. (meat sizzling) Okay. I am mixing it so it won’t have clusters. The flame is very high. And now I’m adding the Baharat that we did, you see I didn’t crush it finely, we left it with texture. This is the perfume. Now we’re going to have some salt. We’re mixing it. So it won’t cluster for just five minutes, because it’s going to go into the oven remember. ( food sizzling) Okay that’s it. That’s ready. (energetic piano music) (faintly speaking) Okay, so the dough just rested for 45 minutes and we’re going to fold it again. I do this, I do this. This will give a nice structure to the pita bread. And the dough will be more powerful. And that’s it. That’s it. Rest for another 30 minutes. ( vibrant music) ( paper rustling) Now let’s divide it. We’re dusting the surface with flour. We are dividing it into 14 pieces. So we just do this and we I cut half of it. ( soft beating music ) It’s wonderful to work with this dough. It feels so good. (laughing) ( gentle music) We ended up with 13. We’re dusting it, so it won’t stick. Now we’re covering it, and we’re letting it stay for 30 minutes. Okay, this is the third rise. It’s important now to let it stay, So the gluten will be relaxed and we can open it for the Pita bread actually. Okay. Let’s have the tomatoes. Wow, they look good. Now we have to peel them. Now we have to peel them, let’s peel the tomatoes. It’s very easy to peel. You see how easy it is. Once they’re cooked properly? ( dramatic music) It’s good to it with plum tomatoes, or you can do it with heirloom tomatoes, the best tomatoes you can get, the better your Sficha will be. (gentle music) Okay. And now I’m just chopping it, very coarsely. I’m not doing a puree. I’m not doing a soup. okay. I leave all chunks. That’s it. That’s it. And I’m going to incorporate now, the tomatoes with the lamb that we did. ( jazzy music) And then mix it, that’s it. This is what’s going to be our Sficha Let’s open the dough. If we don’t have a rolling pin, you have a bottle. (gentle music) Slightly floured surface. This is a beautiful rolling pin. Just open, the pita. And you place it on, again on the surface ( lighthearted guitar music) I love making Pita bread. Your pita will become a little crooked and that’s fine. I love my pita to be a little crooked, So I will know it’s not machine made. (lighthearted guitar music) And we’re going to cover them again. You have to cover it so they won’t dry, 30 minutes and now you have to heat the oven to full capacity, because it needs a very high temperature. We’re going to do with it also is a Manakeesh. Manakeesh is pita bread with a hyssop, with za’atar and sesame seeds. So let’s do the mixture now, (upbeat music) We’re taking a pestle and mortar. Let’s take some garlic, okay. In the regular mixture of Manakeesh we don’t have garlic, but I just added it, because I felt like having a garlic all of a sudden. And we’re taking the Za’atar. And we’re separating the leaves. If you can’t find a Za’atar just use oregano. And if you don’t have fresh ones, you can use the dry one. ( vibrant music) Okay. Now we start crushing them together, with a little salt. ( lid crackling) ( mortar and pestle creacking) You can smell the beautiful Za’atar. This is pure gold. This is pure gold. You know, it’s so pungent and it will give our pita bread the Manakeesh, an amazing smell. I’m going to do it a little coarser than usual. Wow, this is pure gold. Really, is unbelievable. Wow. ( mortar and pestle rattling) And now we’re going to add some olive oil. And we’re going to add some whole sesame. Okay. Everything is ready, the meat for the Sficha. The za’atar mixture for the Manakeesh, and we’re going to bake now the bread. Let’s take this to the wood fired oven. ( spoons crapping) That’s it, let’s go bake. ( door creaking ) (gentle music) Let’s bring the dough. ( water trickling) it’s important to clean the surface, making surface ready very nicely . ( scrapping metal) And we’re ready to go. Let’s start. ( gentle music) First pita goes into the oven. We don’t need any humidity in the oven like this, and you have to look, look at this magic look, look, look, look, look, look, look up…… Amazing, amazing. ( metal clanking) And it’s ready. Look how fast it is. ( gentle music) (metal crackling) Okay. Ah, we have Pita breads, and now we’re going to the Manakeesh. (gentle music) The same dough, but I’m using the za’atar, spread with the Sesame seeds that we prepared in advance. So just put here. I do it slightly different than the tradition. Okay. I do it my way, but I don’t think like “Frank” (Sinatra) I put some pressure on top of the dough, (lighthearted guitar music) If they start to puff, put some pressure on top of them. So they won’t be high. The Manakeesh it’s different than regular Pita. But look how the bubbles, how beautiful they are? (upbeat music) Okay, ready Okay, so now let’s do the Sficha. (gentle music) Now you just spread the meat on top of the dough. This can be slightly thinner than the regular pita bread. You want it to be a little thinner, because I told you this the Mediterranean pizza Okay, that’s it. Into the oven, ( metal clanking) (gentle music) And we’re taking it out of the oven, in a moment. (gentle music) Really nice, Took it out. Okay. Let’s put some raw tahini and some very little pomegranate syrup, without sugar it’s concentration of real pomegranate and gives beautiful acidity. Some parsley leaves, we could use roasted pine nuts, or pistachios if you want, or almonds And you serve it, you serve it with a big smile, because it’s delicious. ( vibrant music) So let’s start showing you the pocket inside. This is the key element for the Pita, and we are stuffing it with falafel, with Shawarma, with whatever you want. And it’s delicious. Beautiful Manakeesh, wow. Is ….. Wow. Wow And the Sficha ( gentle music)

About the Instructor

Renowned chef, baker, and cookbook author celebrated as the “Godfather” of modern Israeli cuisine, Erez Komarovsky takes viewers on a journey to discover the roots of his Middle Eastern cuisine. Starting from the bustling markets of Tel Aviv, Israel to his blissful home in the North Galilee, Erez teaches viewers how to bake his “flowering” Challah and Pita breads, plus his signature dishes including Lamb Kebabs, Hummus Mezze with Falafel, Harissa Chicken, Fish Crudo and more.

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