Around the world, there exist breads created and modified to the taste of all races, ethnic groups, or peoples. Each of these types of breads, depending on the available resources and traditions, have their own recipes. For instance, in colder regions of the world the use of warming spices such as ginger or even pepper is common for baking bread. Or how in tropical climates, people use dates in their flour and water mixture when making bread.
Bread is a type of sustenance prepared by baking, steaming, or frying. As well as a grain flour, water, yeast, and salt, sometimes a recipe calls for milk, oil, and a variety of spices. The mixture of spice and the variety in preparing steps has resulted in the creation of a lot of breads. Bread is known as a staple food all over the world. The basic way of baking bread is to prepare a dough with flour and starter, subsequently put to rest so it expands; and then to bake that in an oven.
The flour is often made of wheat due to its high gluten; which is what gives bread a spongey, tender texture. Sometimes black wheat flour, oat flour, or corn flour can be mixed in the flour.
Iran has a wide variety of breads compared to other countries of the world; it also has a high per capita bread consumption compared to others.
The Steps of Baking Bread in an Iranian Bakery
To watch the process of bread baking in Iran is an experience we recommend tourists to try. The beauty of bread baking in Iran is that you can stand and watch the line of skilled workers prepare your loaf. You can usually watch every or most steps. It used to be done all by hand, but of course in the industrialized cities of today some of the steps can be relegated to machines now.
- First, they make the bread dough.
- Someone forms the dough into a sphere that we call “Chaneh” in Farsi. The person responsible for this task has to pay attention to the size of bread, so that everyone’s payment is fair.
- The next person in the line uses a rolling pin to flatten the chaneh, and puts sesame seeds on its surface. They may also add in other seeds, but sesame is the most common. Then they place the bread inside the oven usually by sticking it to an interior wall of the bread furnace or placing it flat inside the oven.
- The last person taking part in bread making watches the bread loaves and grabs hold of them and brings them out when they’re ready. They place the hot, fresh loaves of bread on the table in front of the customers.
Traditions of bread buying in Iran
In Iran, you must wait in a line to buy bread. These lines are usually long early in the morning and at night, at approximately 6-8 P.M.
If you wish to buy only one loaf, or two, you may do so without having to wait in line.
Instead of a single-use plastic bag, most customers bring a piece of cloth that they will wrap the bread in to take home. They will acquire their loaf, and then let it rest on the table provided for this purpose so that it doesn’t steam up on the way home.
Iranians hold bread in high regard. They recognize a lot of care and tenacity goes into growing, harvesting, and milling wheat, as well as baking the bread, and that is something to respect. They make sure no piece of bread falls to the ground; and if they see such a thing has occurred they might pick it up, devotedly kiss it, and place it on a ledge or shelf, well above ground.
The lines in some cities of Iran are separate for male and female customers. In some cities of Iran you can purchase bread online.
The Most Popular Iranian Breads
The most common and popular Iranian breads include: Naan-e Lavash, Barbari, Sangak, Taftoon, Naan-e Jo, Naan-e Gandom, Naan-e Sabzidar, Naan-e Khoshke Tanoor, etc. In every region, on top of the breads mentioned before, breads are baked that are specifically suited to the climate, such as spicy or sweet breads.
In the following, we look at four of the most famous breads of Iran:
Taftoon, popular especially in villages, is a round bread baked at 5 mm thickness. This type of bread is rather easy to prepare, and so it is frequently made in every city of Iran. Sometimes, mistakenly, people refer to Taftoon as Naan-e Lavash; as both are flatbreads. Taftoon dates back centuries and as it has a medium thickness, it appeals to most tastes.
Sangak is possibly the most popular bread of Iran. Sangak – also called Sang Nani – is a bread softer than Lavash with a thickness of 9 mm, popular in large cities. Sangak is not only tastier, but also healthier than other breads. To bake Sangak, a furnace covered with Sang (pebbles) is needed.
Barbari is a well-loved Iranian bread. It makes an exceptional breakfast when enjoyed with Tabriz Cheese. Naan-e Barbari is a rather crispy bread 10-2- mm thick whose dough has to rest well- just like Sangak. But this bread is more brittle compared to Sangak and Lavash. Some believe the recipe for Barbari belongs to a nomad tribe called Barbar who settled in Iran during the Qajar Era some time during the past century.
Naan-e Lavash is the thinnest, whitest bread that Iranians consume. Due to their small weight and thickness (2mm), Iranians usually purchase this bread in ready-made packets at the bakery.
This is a very thin flat bread comprising all purpose flour, water, yeast, and salt.
When freshly baked, Lavash is similar to tortillas. However it dries up quickly when left out.
Although it is quick to become crisp, Lavash has a long best-before date and thus, is frequently bought by Iranians.
Iran and some neighbor countries share Lavash as a heritage in UNESCO list.