This bread marks a milestone in my baking life. I bought the book ‘Hot Bread Kitchen’ just by looking at this bread on the cover almost a year ago. Ever since I would glance at it every once in a while and sweep my hands over the images trying to feel the texture of the bread through the pages. But I kept postponing the actual bake. I was very scared and somehow convinced I would make a mess of it. I read the recipe a few hundred times and would sigh every time as I slammed the book shut.
But I knew if I did not do it during this mega marathon, I would not get a better chance. I am baking breads almost every day for the past fortnight and felt a tad more confident, mostly due to very encouraging comments I got for my efforts so far. So I dived in and tried this phenomenal looking bread. Guess what, it turned out tasting simply divine.
Nan-e-Barbari is a Persian flatbread and is known to be one of the thickest flatbreads. It is usually almost 3 feet in length and nearly one foot in breadth. It is served with cucumbers, olives and feta cheese though I totally recommend biting into its crispy crust as soon as it is baked. The crisp crust is on account of a glaze applied over the dough before baking which is called the ‘roomal’. The roomal or glaze is nothing but a mixture of flour, sugar, oil and water heated to form a thick paste and this glaze is what gives the nan its to-die-for crisp crust. The traditional barbari oven is specialized for baking barbari breads. The oven, always built within wall, is a masonry, brick-domed, wood-fired oven with a circular hearth and relatively flat dome. A typical barbari oven has an internal floor diameter of 300 centimeters (118 inches) and internal dome height of 60 centimeters (23.6 inches), which renders it a low-dome oven. If you are interested, you can read this very detailed account on this bread here.
Country – Iran
Makes two 10″ breads
Recipe adapted from ‘The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook’
WHAT WE NEED
For the dough
All purpose flour 2 cups
Lukewarm water 1 cup
Instant yeast 1 tsp heaped
Salt 1 tsp
Olive Oil for greasing
For the roomal
All purpose flour 1 1/2 tsp
Sugar 1/4 tsp
Cool water 40 ml
Olive oil 4-5 drops
Sesame seeds, caraway seeds and carom seeds to sprinkle
WHAT TO DO
- Mix the flour, lukewarm water, yeast and salt together and knead for 8-10 minutes by hand until smooth and elastic
- Transfer it to a greased bowl and cover with cling wrap and set aside till the dough doubles in size, about an hour
- Grease a baking tray or line it with parchment paper
- Take out the dough and divide it into 2 equal portions
- Take each dough portion and roll it into a rectangle approximately 10″ in length and 3 inches wide and place it on the baking tray
- Loosely cover it with cling wrap and set aside for 30 minutes
- In a small saucepan, combine the ingredients for the glaze – flour, water, oil and sugar.
- Turn on the heat at medium and whisk the mixture using a fork till it becomes a paste, less than a minute
- Set aside to cool
- Preheat the oven to 235C
- Lightly oil your fingers and make indents in the dough almost resembling 4-5 straight lines vertically
- With a brush, spread the roomal / glaze generously on the dough
- Sprinkle the sesame seeds, caraway seeds and carom seeds on top
- Bake for 18 minutes by which time the top should have turned golden brown. Else wait for a minute or two more
- Set it on a wirerack and let cool slightly
- Serve with cucumbers, olives and feta cheese or have it as is
- The recipe prescribed bread flour for the dough but I used all purpose flour.
- The toppings can be other seeds of your choice – nigella seeds, black sesame seeds, cumin seeds, etc.
- The bread stays good at room temperature if wrapped well in plastic upto a week. To store for longer time, freeze it
This is my post for the mega marathon under the letter ‘N’.