Barbari Bread (Persian Naan Bread)

I am always delighted when somebody gives me an idea for a new dish, so I jumped on the suggestion to try myself out on this recipe which was proposed to me by an Iranian friend. And my friend was indeed absolutely blissful about the outcome and assured me that it tasted truly authentic. – I have to take his word for it as I have never tasted a Barbari Bread outside my own kitchen, but I certainly fell in love with this bread and have been making it quite a number of times since. The black salt flakes are my own idea of a garnish – I think it looks just beautiful, but you may obviously choose to keep it truly authentic with a sprinkling of nigella seeds or sesame for garnish.

Sanni

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • approx. 400 grams of flour
  • 1 package of dry yeast (for 500 grams of flour)
  • 350 ml of water (lukewarm)
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons of light olive or canola oil
  • For the glaze: 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of flour, 2 tablespoons of water (lukewarm)
  • For decoration: 1 tablespoon of black nigella seeds, black salt flakes or black sesame seeds
  • For baking: 1-2 tablespoons of corn flour

Preparation:

  1. Pass the flour through a fine mesh into a large bowl. Form a depression in the middle and place the yeast in it. Add 1-2 tablespoons of the water and dissolve the yeast in it. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for 10 minutes. The yeast should by then have started to bubble slightly.
  2. Place the sugar and the salt at the side of the bowl where it has no direct contact with the yeast. Gradually add the remaining water and mix with the yeast and the flour. Work in the sugar and salt towards the end. Finally, add the oil.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a clean flat surface (best to use a baking mat) and knead well (at least 5-10 minutes) until the dough is smooth and the flour has well absorbed the liquids. Should the dough still be sticky, add some more flour. Should it be too dense, add more oil and water (proportion 1:1).
  4. Oil a large bowl and place the dough in it. Cover with cellophane and a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm, dark place (e.g. in the turned off oven). Allow to rise for at least 4 hours, best overnight.
  5. Uncover and punch the air out of the dough, then it turn around in the bowl. Cover with cellophane and a kitchen towel again and let rise for another 2-4 hours.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius. If you have a baking stone or cast iron oven plaque, heat it up as well (lower level). Allow the oven to get properly hot, before baking (requires at least 20-30 minutes).
  7. In the meantime, divide the dough into 2-3 equal sized balls. To handle the dough, you may find it helpful to rube your hands with a bit of oil. Stretch out each ball into an oval shape. The edges should be a little thicker than the center.
  8. Place the loaves on a non-stick or oiled surface, cover with a cellophane and a kitchen towel and let rise for another 20-30 minutes.
  9. Further, prepare the glaze: Mix the baking soda, flour and water in a bowl until smooth.
  10. Just before baking, brush each loaf with the glaze and make some dents on the top with damp fingers. Sprinkle with nigella seeds. Alternatively, try black salt flakes or black sesame which both look very nice as well and each give a slightly different flavor to the bread.
  11. Quickly dust the baking surface with a bit of cornflour before transferring the loaves (bake individually) onto it. Try to let as little heat as possible escape from the oven.
  12. After 8 minutes of baking, flip over the loaf and bake for another 2 minutes from the other side. The bread loaves should be still soft / flexible – reduce your baking time should they get too hard.
  13. Let cool down a bit. Cover with a clean towel and serve warm. (If not served immediately, wrap in aluminium foil or a plastic bag and toast quickly before serving.)

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