Maniot Pulled Fried Pitas
Pulled pitas are called that because small dough-balls are pulled and stretched into shape before frying. Now—truth be told—even though they’re called pitas, since they get deep fried, they do resemble doughnuts more. Which brings us to the frying issue: you can, by all means, use olive oil if you wish to. That said, even though it has been scientifically proven time and again that olive oil is the most excellent choice for cooking in general, I don’t recommend it for deep-frying. I’m incorporating feta cheese into the dough for this recipe, but you can leave it plain and simple and use the crumbled feta as a topping instead. Precisely because this is such a quintessential comfort food, you can customize it in a million different ways. You can let your imagination go wild, but you will also find a few typical ideas after the recipe, below. Maniot pulled pitas can be enjoyed in breakfast, or as a snack.
Serves: 4 (makes about 12 small pitas) – Preparation time: 50 minutes (including dough-proofing time)
- 1.3-1.6 pounds (600-700 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 sachet active dry yeast—they’ re usually around ¼ oz/8 g each, suitable for 1.1 pounds of flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
- ¼ cup (80 g) crumbled feta cheese
- Sift flour, dry yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Add olive oil and lukewarm water and mix until everything is well combined. Knead it into a smooth, slightly sticky dough. (While kneading you may find that the dough requires more flour than 1.3 pounds. Keep adding 1-2 tablespoons at a time until you achieve the desired smoothness.)
- Brush a clean bowl with olive oil, place the dough in and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough “rest” until it rises. Make sure the room (or the place you leave it next to) is on the rather warm side. It should take about 20-35 minutes to rise, depending on the room temperature.
- After the dough has risen slather your hands with some olive oil to punch it down. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta and fold it all in. Divide dough into equal parts and roll into small balls (think of a plum in terms of size).
- Heat about ⅜” vegetable oil to 375 °F in a frying pan or wok (if you’re using a 10″ diameter pan, this is 2 cups of vegetable oil). If you’re not using an electric frying pan, you can either use a candy thermometer to take the temperature of the oil or you can guesstimate by seeing if a single piece of dough (fry alone first) fries nicely in the time specified.
- Pull and stretch each little dough ball just like you would do to pizza dough. Give them an oval shape. (You can do this on any flour-coated or nonstick surface but since they’re pretty small in size I usually shape them right in my hands.)
- Carefully lower each dough “disk” into the pan. A maximum of 2-3 pieces per batch is advisable. Let them cook for 60 seconds (they will slightly puff and become light brown around the edges), then flip them over and cook until light brown on the other side, about 60 seconds; you don’t want to cook these too dark.
- Remove from the pan and set them in a paper-towel lined baking sheet. Place in a 200 °F oven to keep warm while you make the remaining pitas.
- Serve warm with toppings of your choice.
Here are a few ideas for dough and toppings:
- feta crumbles
- syglino crumbles
- feta & syglino crumbles
- any kind of sausage, cut into really small pieces
- bacon crumbles
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon dry rosemary
- ½ teaspoon fresh thyme
Toppings for both plain and non-plain dough
- feta crumbles on top, drizzled with honey and sesame
- feta crumbles, drizzled with grape molasses
- shaved graviera, drizzled with honey
- pure grape molasses
- honey and cinnamon
- honey and crushed walnuts
- honey and crushed pistachios