Freshly Baked: Tasting Iran's Traditional Bread

Published June 30th, 2020 - 07:06 GMT

Bakeries are easy to locate in Iran, just simply detect the irresistible scent of freshly baked flatbreads. Of the four main traditional types, sangak is the most popular and is seen as Iran’s national bread. It is made from wholewheat flour and topped with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and sometimes poppy seeds at the customer’s request.

The baker moves and gesticulates constantly as he works in what resembles a dance in front of gas-fired ovens. Exclusively the job of men in the Islamic republic, bakers get up well before the crack of dawn while everyone else is still asleep.

They take a ball of dough and spreads it on a board before placing it on the inside walls of the glowing furnace using a long set of tongs. Once they are done, the baker again uses the tongs to retrieve the bread and hangs it on the wall or piles it up.

A freshly baked Iranian flatbread usually accompanies a piece of feta cheese and sweet tea for breakfast or a plate of kebab for lunch.
 

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Iranian bakers Esmail Asghari, 66, Farzad Rabiei, 30, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, pose with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian bakers Esmail Asghari, 66, Farzad Rabiei, 30, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, pose with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian baker Esmail Asghari, 66, poses with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian baker Esmail Asghari, 66, poses with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian bakers Farzad Rabiei (L), 30, Esmail Asghari, 66, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, prepare dough for Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian bakers Farzad Rabiei (L), 30, Esmail Asghari, 66, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, prepare dough for Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian baker Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, makes Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian baker Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, makes Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Ali, 21, an Iranian baker poses with Sangak bread in the capital Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Ali, 21, an Iranian baker poses with Sangak bread in the capital Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian bakers Amir Jafari (L), 58, and Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, make Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Iranian bakers Amir Jafari (L), 58, and Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, make Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP

Fars Province Iran, bakers are baking Sangak bread in a traditional oven by traditional method, Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army  (Shutterstock)

Fars Province Iran, bakers are baking Sangak bread in a traditional oven by traditional method, Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army (Shutterstock)

Traditional bread. In Farsi, bread is Naan. The names Naan-e Sangak or Naan-e Barbari, mean Sangak Bread or Barbari Bread (Shutterstock)

Traditional bread. In Farsi, bread is Naan. The names Naan-e Sangak or Naan-e Barbari, mean Sangak Bread or Barbari Bread (Shutterstock)

Sangak, a leavened Iranian flatbread. In Persian 'sangak' means little stone, as the bread is baked on small stones in a traditional oven (Shutterstock)

Sangak, a leavened Iranian flatbread. In Persian 'sangak' means little stone, as the bread is baked on small stones in a traditional oven (Shutterstock)

Iranian bakers Esmail Asghari, 66, Farzad Rabiei, 30, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, pose with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Esmail Asghari, 66, poses with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Farzad Rabiei (L), 30, Esmail Asghari, 66, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, prepare dough for Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, makes Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Ali, 21, an Iranian baker poses with Sangak bread in the capital Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Amir Jafari (L), 58, and Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, make Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Fars Province Iran, bakers are baking Sangak bread in a traditional oven by traditional method, Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army  (Shutterstock)
Traditional bread. In Farsi, bread is Naan. The names Naan-e Sangak or Naan-e Barbari, mean Sangak Bread or Barbari Bread (Shutterstock)
Sangak, a leavened Iranian flatbread. In Persian 'sangak' means little stone, as the bread is baked on small stones in a traditional oven (Shutterstock)
Iranian bakers Esmail Asghari, 66, Farzad Rabiei, 30, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, pose with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Esmail Asghari, 66, Farzad Rabiei, 30, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, pose with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Esmail Asghari, 66, poses with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Esmail Asghari, 66, poses with Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Farzad Rabiei (L), 30, Esmail Asghari, 66, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, prepare dough for Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Farzad Rabiei (L), 30, Esmail Asghari, 66, and Mojtaba Haydari, 23, prepare dough for Barbari bread in Tehran on June 7, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, makes Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian baker Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, makes Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Ali, 21, an Iranian baker poses with Sangak bread in the capital Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Ali, 21, an Iranian baker poses with Sangak bread in the capital Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Amir Jafari (L), 58, and Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, make Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Iranian bakers Amir Jafari (L), 58, and Mohammad Mirzakhani, 41, make Taftoon bread in Tehran on June 13, 2020. ATTA KENARE / AFP
Fars Province Iran, bakers are baking Sangak bread in a traditional oven by traditional method, Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army  (Shutterstock)
Fars Province Iran, bakers are baking Sangak bread in a traditional oven by traditional method, Sangak bread was traditionally the bread of the Persian army (Shutterstock)
Traditional bread. In Farsi, bread is Naan. The names Naan-e Sangak or Naan-e Barbari, mean Sangak Bread or Barbari Bread (Shutterstock)
Traditional bread. In Farsi, bread is Naan. The names Naan-e Sangak or Naan-e Barbari, mean Sangak Bread or Barbari Bread (Shutterstock)
Sangak, a leavened Iranian flatbread. In Persian 'sangak' means little stone, as the bread is baked on small stones in a traditional oven (Shutterstock)
Sangak, a leavened Iranian flatbread. In Persian 'sangak' means little stone, as the bread is baked on small stones in a traditional oven (Shutterstock)