Why is all Iranian bread flat?

 
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In this show we are joined by an Iranian chef, Shahriar of Shahriar’s Kitchen, who helps us answer a questions from one of our listeners, Susie. She wants to know why it is that all Iranian bread is flat. Our guest, Shahriar, has worked as a chef around the world, and although he has a wealth of experience with Iranian and international cuisine, for his first appearance on Ask An Iranian we asked him to help get you familiar with one of Iran’s staples, flatbreads.

What we discuss in this show

  • What is Iran’s national bread?
  • What is the Iranian ‘sangak‘ and bread and how it is made?
  • What is the Iranian ‘barbari‘ bread and how is it made?
  • What type of oven is used to bake Iranian bread?
  • Can you chip a tooth or burn your tongue when eating fresh ‘sangak’?
  • How many seconds do you have to eat lavash before it’s inedible?
  • Which queue you should stand in when at an Iranian bakery
  • Do Iranians dip ‘barbari’ bread in their tea?
  • Is it true that truck drivers put bread in their cola?

What makes flatbread flat?

Iranian Sangak Bread, Ask An Iranian
Photo of fresh Iranian ‘sangak’ bread being made at an Iranian bakery, by Ninara

This question is not so easily answered, and we maybe don’t address this question so directly in the show, so allow us to do so here. Flatbreads are unleavened, for the most part, and in most cases, don’t use a rising agent such as yeast. Flatbreads range from below one millimetre to a few centimetres thick so that they can be easily eaten without being sliced. They can be baked in an oven, fried in hot oil, grilled over hot coals or cooked on a hot pan. For a comprehensive list of flatbreads in the Middle East, please follow this link to Wikipedia.

How you can follow Shahriar

You can follow Shahriar on Instagram, by going to Shahriar’s Kitchen. At the time of recording the show, Shahriar’s infused olive oils and vinegars were available in Tehran’s, Beethoven Museum.

Break bread with friends and family

Iranian barbari bread, freshly baked in a bakery in Tehran.
Iranian barbari bread

In this episode we discuss how Iranians leave Iran with suitcases of freezer-bagged bread. Although this is mostly for personal consumption, Iranian bread is also taken as a souvenir, or “soghaty”, for Iranian friends and family. If you want to learn more about the Iranian culture of souvenir giving, you can listen to our show about “soghaty”.

Any questions, or any answers?

If you have any questions about Iranian bread, please leave a comment below, or if you are Iranian and think we’ve missed something, please also let us know in the comments below.

Translation of Persian (Farsi) words used in this show

Sangak:“Little pebble”, and also the name of the Iranian bread
Barbari:A type of Iranian bread (arguably the world’s best)
Lavash:A very thin, Lego-looking, Iranian bread
Taftoon:Bread made with milk, yoghurt, eggs baked in a clay oven
Naan:“Bread”, its Persian (Farsi) word
Tanoor:An oven for baking bread
Safavid:The name for an Iranian dynasty
Naan mahali:“Local bread”, the term for locally made bread
Kashke baademjaan:An Iranian dish made with aubergines (eggplant)
Chai chorak:The name for bread and tea, consumed by the Torkeman