Arabic bread is a general term for breads that are made and consumed specifically in the Arab world. These breads form a very important part of the Arab cuisine. Arabic breads are popular almost everywhere. While Pita is the most commonly known bread, there are other varieties as well, mostly classified on the basis of flour used, like Kimaje (a flat bread), Khubz al-Tannour (a flat, bubbly bread that does not develop the pouch found in Pita) and Khubz Saj (a very flat bread).
Arabic breads are usually round in shape and a little flat. Completely flat breads are also sometimes baked, especially if they have to be stuffed. While these breads are commercially available in bakeries, eateries and cafes but most Arabs prefer to bake their own breads at home.
Breads have been an essential part of the Arab culinary tradition since the ancient times and references to them have been found in anceint texts. These were commonly stuffed with meats and/or vegetables and then consumed as a main dish. The traditional has grown strong over the years and today, some of the most well known dishes of the Arab world are not considered complete without bread or cannot be made without it, like hummus, fatteh and falafel stuffed pita.
Common Ingredients Used in the Preparation of Arabic Breads
While the ingredients used to make Arabic bread depend entirely on personal choices, yeast, salt, water and sugar are ingredients that are common to all recipes. A variety of flours, spices and flavoring agents are used based on the recipe being followed. Whole wheat, rye, wheat, semolina and barley are the common flour choices. Cumin and/or sesame seeds are often added to the bread dough to give the preparation more flavor and aroma.
Arab cuisine is popular for its extensive use of cream and butter as well as herbs and spices. Breads of the region are, therefore, commonly made by adding cream, butter or cheese and/or herbs of preference like mint, thyme, saffron and cinnamon.
Preparation Overview of Common Arabic Bread Recipe
Arabic bread is prepared much like most other breads of the world. Baking is the method of preparation and the time taken to make a single 'loaf' is about 40 to 50 minutes. Arabic breads are mostly considered a fairly-easy preparation. It is, however, very important to keep a watchful eye throughout the cooking process as the breads, especially flat ones, can easily burn.
To make the bread, the ingredients are first mixed together and then kneaded together to make the dough. The dough is shaped as preferred (mostly round and flattened as required) and then placed in the baking dish. The bread is then baked in an electric or wood oven till it is done.
Common Types of Arabic Bread
Pita - Also called Khubz Lubnani, this is the most popualr Arabic bread.
Khubz al-Tannour - It is believed that the bread originated in Babylonia. Today, it is one of the most popular breads in across the Middle East, central Asia and North Africa. It is usually made with white flour.
Khubuz Saj - A very flat bread, it is made on a saj, an important Arabic kitchen equipment that looks like an upside down wok.
Zatiya or the Kurdish Flat Bread - This bread is basically a richer version of the Khubz al-Tannour. The dough is kneaded with large amounts of oil and butter and all parts of water are replaced with milk.
Arab Breads Trivia
In the Arab world, breads are very highly regarded. If someone happens to notice a scrap of Arab bread on the street, it is a common practice to pick it up and put it on the side so that no one accidently steps on it.