About 10 years ago I took a fantastic trip to Israel with a group my fellow chefs, and we were exposed to some amazing Middle Eastern food there. Flatbreads are essential to the way meals are eaten in that part of the world—you eat with your hands, using the bread as a tool to pick up food and to soak up sauces and dips.
Pita bread, which is eaten throughout the Middle East, and naan, an Indian flatbread popular in South Asia, are great starting points for any meal. Flatbreads cook very quickly—if you set your oven to broil and use a preheated pizza stone, they puff up in a matter of seconds, and it's fun to watch them do their magic as they bake. They are best eaten warm, and the two dips featured here are welcome accompaniments. Hummus has the savory tastes of tahini and a little spice, while the minty raita offers a cooling contrast to the warm naan.
What to Drink
"With its citrus and floral aromas and notes of summer fruit and herbs, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($23) from New Zealand offers a crisp contrast to the creaminess of these dips," says Daniel Johnnes, wine director of Daniel Boulud's restaurants. "For a leaner, more mineral alternative, try Lucien Crochet Sancerre 2009 ($31), from France's Loire Valley."