11 Incredible Flatbreads From Around the World (Slideshow)
May 23, 2014
From roti, to damper, to pita, here are some of the world's most delicious flatbreads
Torta Sul Testo — Italy
This Umbrian griddle-baked flatbread is a staple of the province of Perugia, and has been compared to some of history’s first examples of unleavened bread (traditionally, torta sul testo was baked on earthenware). As if it couldn’t get tastier, this authentic Italian flatbread gets stuffed with greens (like spinach or broccoli rabe), or is served plain with a side of Pecorino cheese or olives. Delizioso!
Damper — Australia
Leave it to the land down unda’ to create a flatbread in the coals of a campfire in bush country (how cool is that?). Damper is an iconic Australian unleavened bread made from wheat flour, and can be tied to stockmen who traversed the wilds caring for livestock, outfitted with only the most basic rations (typically, flour, sugar and tea). This bread from the outback was often eaten with a simple gold-colored syrup combining cane sugar and water called “cocky’s joy” (seriously), but today can be enjoyed from the bakery with jam or even vegemite.
Coca — Spain
A specialty of Catalonia (with versions found on the Balearic Islands), coca is a yeasted dough laced with olive oil or lard and cooked in stone or brick ovens. Stretched into ovals, the flatbread is topped with all sorts of deliciousness: Think local veggies (fresh or marinated), meats (including sausage, ham and bacon) or fish (salt cod, shrimp and octopus are popular choices).
Fatir — Egypt, Saudi Arabia
Picture yourself an ancient nomad, with only hard grain for sustenance and a hot rock upon which to cook. Yep, that’s how fatir reputedly got its start, tracing its roots to Bedouins in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Today, fatir is often made on a sajj, or domed griddle, and in Egypt can be eaten for breakfast like a pancake (sometimes stuffed with apricots and powdered sugar) or in savory variations, topped with stewed chicken and onions.
Gözleme — Turkey
Göz means “compartment” in Turkish, so it’s fitting that this pastry acts like a tummy-pleasing pouch of savory goodness, typically containing a rich filling (think spinach and feta cheese, chopped lamb or smoked seafood). The hand-rolled dough is first brushed with eggs and butter, stuffed with a topping, then sealed and cooked over a griddle.
Mana’eesh — Lebanon, Palestine, Syria
Ready for carb overload? Mana’eesh is a daily treat in the Eastern Mediterranean, with particularly delicious examples found in Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. The olive oil rich flatbread is usually topped with the piquant spice za’atar (a mix of dried thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac), and bakers sometimes ferment the dough overnight, which results in a tangy flavor.
Msemmen — Algeria
Made with white flour or fine semolina, msemmen is often served with melted butter and honey alongside a cup of tea or coffee (yes please). But rubbed with spiced oil, this flaky, layered flatbread becomes a shockingly filling savory snack, a fine accompaniment to lunch or dinner in Algeria.
Naan — India, Pakistan, Afghanistan
This Southeast Asian staple is gaining shelf space in North American supermarkets—and what’s not to love? Fluffy, leavened naan was first recorded being served to royals at the Imperial Court in Delhi as far back as 1300 A.D. Whether brushed with ghee (clarified butter) or topped with crushed garlic, the old school delight is a naturally sumptuous companion to rich sauces and fiery curries.
Pissaladière — France
Forget the cronut: The pissaladière is a focaccia-pizza hybrid that has been enchanting foodies in Provence for years (and you won’t find around-the-block lines to taste one). Thicker than classical Italian pizza, this flatbread is almost always topped with rustic, caramelized onions (and sometimes olives, garlic and anchovies are tossed on for good measure).
Roti — India
It may look similar to the hardworking tortilla, but this unleavened bread from India is typically made on a traditional griddle called a tava, and baked until it’s very thin. Where poufy, doughy naan is rarely eaten on a daily basis in India, the slimmer roti is a daily staple and works at every meal, served with yogurt, honey, cooked vegetables or curries (or really, whatever you’ve got to eat with it).
Pita — Greece
Western civilization can thank ancient Greece for so many wonderful facets of modern society, like democracy, theatre and…pita. The undisputed champion of flatbread is, par excellence, the pita—baked at high temperatures (sometimes topping 450°F), pitas puff up dramatically in the oven, causing the dough to separate into pillowy pockets, perfect for stuffing with all kinds of Greek treats, like hummus and falafel, or souvlaki. Or made into pita chips…no really, however you need to get your pita fix is fine. In the far-flung world of flatbread, anything goes.