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Naan Vs Pita • The Battle of The Ancient Bread

Written by Luisa Davis on . Posted in food

naan vs pita, baking naan, baking pita

Ancient bread goes back in human history as far as 8,000 years, with the difference between naan and pita helping them both survive through the ages due to their relative advantages. They have remained an essential element in family meals across all cultures, even in modern times.

Both healthy and nutritious, naan and pita bread have been associated with man’s well-being, religious worship, and overall survival.

Which is better bread naan or pita? I have to concede that the Greeks have perfected bread with their pita bread, and without their influence, bread would simply not be bread. However, I prefer naan bread due to its taste and flexibility to be changed and adapted into other fantastic meals. As you survey the differences and similarities between Naan vs. Pita, their taste, and ease of use in various meals, which do you prefer?

What Is Flatbread?

Flatbreads are a type of leavened bread that is lighter and more basic than most other bread. They all commonly are made with simple ingredients such as flour, water, and salt and are rolled or flattened to less than a few centimeters in thickness.

Flatbreads are easy to prepare and can be fried in a pan, grilled outdoors, or baked. They are best eaten when fresh but can be frozen and reheated or packaged and stored for several days. While there are many types of flatbreads, the two most popular are the sweet and soft naan bread and the light and fresh pita bread.

Naan Bread

This flatbread originates from Persia and was cooked on hot stones around a campfire. This cooking technique was then introduced into India. An oven called a “Tandoor” was used for preparing the naan. The bread was laid down along the inside top of the oven.

middle eastern bread, middle eastern flatbreadThe tandoor is very efficient in cooking naan due to its consistent and cheap high heat. Most people now do not have access to a tandoor oven, so cooking naan on top of a pizza stone in an oven is a good alternative.

Naan bread is bubbly, fluffy, and oval-shaped, unlike pita bread. Many people have deemed naan bread healthy because the recipes often include yogurt unlike other flatbreads or breads in general. Naan bread nutrition is different than that of pita bread as naan bread has more salt and sugar than pita.

As naan bread can be prepared easily at home, it is a great healthy choice as opposed to other store-bought breads which contain many unhealthy chemicals and preservatives.

I have recently discovered how wonderful it is to use naan bread as a pizza crust. Preparing the naan bread a day before and then topping it with different fresh pizza ingredients is my favorite way to eat naan.

Try my best naan bread recipe here:

Naan Bread Recipe

With naan bread, it is hard to eat just one. Usually, it is served hot and topped with brushed butter. It is a side item that is used to sop or scoop other foods, especially hummus. And it can be made with white or whole wheat flour.

all purpose flour, all purpose flour recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 oz active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • ¾ warm water
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening (Crisco Shortening)

Preparation

Making the Dough

  1. Take a large measuring cup and pour in the above measurement of warm water.
  2. Add yeast and sugar to the measuring cup with water letting the yeast soften and dissolve completely.
  3. Take a kitchen towel and drape over the measuring cup, covering the mixture to allow it to froth for 5 – 15 minutes.
  4. Now take a medium mixing bowl and combine flour and salt.
  5. Add the yeast sugar water and vegetable shortening from the measuring cup to the medium mixing bowl containing the flour and salt.flatbread dough, flatbread dough recipe
  6. Knead the mixture in the mixing bowl for 5 – 10 minutes until dough forms.
  7. Transfer the dough into another medium bowl coated with oil, and turn the mixture in the bowl until the dough is evenly covered with oil.
  8. Put the bowl in a warm area, cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) and let the dough rise for one to two hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Frying the Naan Bread

  1. Prepare a flour tray and place near the stove.
  2. Take the dough and divide it into desired portions; this recipe should make 10 – 12 flatbreads. Hand roll the dough into balls then, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out as thick or thin as desired in one direction. Naan bread should be rectangular. Place each rolled out naan bread on the floured tray to rest until ready to fry — cover with a towel to prevent it from drying out.
  3. As the bread is resting on the tray, heat a heavy frying pan (preferably cast iron) over moderately high heat.
  4. Brush pan with butter and place naan bread in the pan and allow to fry for 2 minutes on one side. Prepare a plate with aluminum foil to hold keep cooked naan bread warm.
  5. frying flatbread, frying doughBrush uncooked side with butter and then turn in the frypan and let the second side cook for another 1 ½ minute. The butter and heat applied to the naan bread will char it, which adds flavor and taste. To get the blistered effect on the flatbread, press it with a spatula in the pan as it cooks, which causes steam to push against the dough and create little bubbles that char.

NOTE: Each delicious naan bread should take 4 minutes to cook, so cooking time, if done one by one, could take as long as 40 – 50 minutes.

Pita Bread

Pita bread is best recognized as the middle eastern flatbread. It is also the oldest flatbread. It is perfectly circular and distinguished by its bread pocket, which makes it perfect for sandwiches and other meals on the go. The pita is the ideal bread to eat with your hands as everything stays inside the bread effortlessly.

Pita bread is much more ancient than naan bread and has the least amount of ingredients. You can also prepare it much quicker. Compared to naan bread, pita is drier and tighter, but once cut in half its usefulness is evident as its pocket allows for all types of delicious stuffing.

My favorite being a Greek salad stuffed pita.

greek bread, greek bread recipeSalads are a bit tricky to eat when you are on the go with a busy schedule, but salad pitas solve that issue nicely. For those who would like a change from standard pita bread, a good pita bread substitute is the Mexican gordita, a corn-based bread. Leftovers like a hearty beef stew or cooked beans are marvelous stuffing for gorditas.

Use my pita recipe as an excellent weekend food prep project for delicious pitas throughout the week.

Pita Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

Preparation

Making the Dough

  1. Take a medium mixing bowl and pour in the above measurement of warm water.
  2. traditional greek bread, how to make greek breadAdd yeast to the mixing bowl letting it soften and dissolve in the water completely. Allow the yeast water to froth for 5 minutes.
  3. Now take a medium mixing bowl and add flour, olive oil, and salt.
  4. Stir mixture together until you make a rough dough.
  5. Add the yeast sugar water and vegetable shortening from the measuring cup to the medium mixing bowl containing the flour and salt.
  6. On a clean surface, toss flour down then place dough on the surface and knead dough about 5 – 7 minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth.
  7. Transfer dough into another medium bowl coated with oil. Now turn the dough in the bowl until dough is evenly covered with oil.
  8. Put the bowl in a warm area, cover with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap), and let the dough rise for an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Baking the Pita Bread

  1. Prepare a flour tray and place near the stove.
  2. Take the dough and deflate it gently, then divide it into 8 equal-sized round flatbreads. Gently flatten the pita bread into a thick disk. Place each rolled out pita bread on the floured tray to rest until ready to bake — cover bread with a kitchen towel (or plastic wrap) to prevent the bread from drying out.
  3. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees. You need a scorching hot oven to create the pocket in the round flatbread. Take the dough shaped into thick disks, and roll out each piece into a rounded shape eight to nine inches wide and ¼ inch thick.
  4. greek flatbread, recipe for greek flatbreadTake a baking stone and place it in the oven to heat for at least 30 minutes. If you are not using a baking stone, you can use a baking sheet. Put the baking sheet in the middle rack of the oven. Now place pita bread directly onto the baking sheet or baking stone. Space the breads out evenly to give them room to rise and expand.
  5. Within the first minute of baking, the pitas will puff up. Monitor the puffing process, which will expand even further and finally balloon once done, making perfect round globes of bread. The pita bread will collapse as they cool.

NOTE: If the pita bread does not puff, that means the oven was not hot enough. Make sure the oven and the baking stone or baking sheets are very hot before putting in pitas.

Conclusion

The ancient battle of naan vs. pita, and of which is the better flatbread, continues. Their differences are quite distinct, as are the similarities. Each flatbread has a different character and richness. You can recognize in both a different taste, touch, appearance, and aroma.

Both of these breads can be used in many different recipes, as well as served as both main dishes and side items. While the most popular way of eating the flatbreads is scooping them into dips accompanying enjoyable Greek and Indian cuisine, the bread can be eaten alone when brushed with butter or oil and herbs.

Each person’s preference for their favorite is personal and hard to predict, but it’s certain that both flatbreads will continue to win hearts and be an essential part of family meals across all cultures well into the future.

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis

Luisa Davis is a frelance writer and foodie based in Portland, California. Though raised on her mother's homestyle Italian cooking, she has spent most of the last five years traveling and immersing herself in other countries' cuisines. Her work have been published in various publications, both online and offline.

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