Cooking over an open fire taps into our primitive, instinctive nature. This recipe gives six puffed pittas cooked over hot coals, with three campfire-baked dips to serve.
Tip both flours into a large mixing bowl and add the salt to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the olive oil and 120ml of the water.
Using the fingers of one hand, mix together the ingredients to combine, then add the remaining water, a little at a time, until you have incorporated all the flour and you have a soft, sticky dough. You may not need all the water.
Oil a clean work surface and tip out the dough. Knead for 5–10 minutes, until the dough has lost its stickiness and is smooth and silky. Put the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave for 1–3 hours, or until doubled in size.
Make sure your fire has burned down to dark, even coals. Break apart any remaining logs, if necessary. Place the baking stone or dry slate over the coals and leave until the stone is hot. Test by flicking water onto the surface – if it instantly evaporates, the stone is ready. Combine all the za’atar ingredients.
Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back until smooth. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape each one into a ball. Flatten each ball with your fingertips, then roll each into an oval, 5mm–1cm thick. Dust the za’atar mixture over the ovals.
Place the ovals onto the stone or slate* and leave for 10–15 seconds, then use the tongs to turn them carefully. Leave the breads to puff up all the way. Once puffed, turn again, until evenly cooked. Wrap the pittas in a damp, warm tea towel to keep them from drying out. (You may need to work in batches, depending on the size of your stone or slate.)
When you’re ready, serve with Burnt Pepper Salsa, Babaganoush and Smoked Garlic Salsa Verde, for dipping.
*If you decide to cook with any type of stone, then please ensure that the stone is fully dried out and gently and completely heated through before use. If there is any moisture in the slate it could cause it to crack and in some rare cases explode. Heating it through gently for 30 minutes will ensure it is safe to use.
Make the Burnt Pepper Salsa. Place the tomato, pepper, chilli and red onion directly onto the hot coals, making sure the onion is in a slightly cooler area than the other ingredients.
Turn everything from time to time until each ingredient is cooked through and the skins are charred and blackened, removing each ingredient into the metal tray as it is cooked. Keep an eye on things: the temperature of a fire isn’t constant, so you have to work with changing heat.
Leave everything to cool in the tray for at least 10 minutes. Then, roughly peel away the loose skins of the pepper, chilli and tomato and thoroughly peel the red onion.
Chop the flesh of each ingredient, transfer to a bowl and combine with the coriander leaves, sea salt and olive oil. Finally, add lime juice and sugar to taste. Serve in a small bowl alongside the pitta.
Make the Babaganoush. Place the garlic bulb and aubergine on a hot section of the fire and roast for 5–8 minutes, until charred on one side. Turn over the vegetables and leave for another 5–8 minutes, until the aubergine is completely charred and the exposed flesh is a deep brown, and the garlic is soft.
Remove the aubergine and garlic from the embers and place under a sheet of foil to rest for 10 minutes.
Scrape out all the smoky, brown flesh from the aubergine onto a chopping board – don’t worry if you get a little of the ash. This adds flavour.
Cut off the bottom of the garlic bulb and squeeze out all the smoked, softened garlic flesh and add that to the chopping board, too.
Roughly chop the aubergine and garlic. Put them in a bowl and combine them with the remaining ingredients, making sure you add only as much lemon juice and ground coriander as you need to taste. Serve in a small bowl with a final finish of extra-virgin olive oil.
Make the Smoked Garlic Salsa Verde. Place the garlic bulb on a hot section of the fire and roast for 5–8 minutes, until charred on one side. Turn over the bulb and leave for another 5–8 minutes, until the garlic is soft.
Squeeze out the garlic flesh onto a chopping board and roughly chop it up along with all the herbs. Put everything in a mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients, adding vinegar, salt and mustard to taste. Stir to combine and serve in a small bowl.