This may well be my last post from my trips to Iran and it is a problematic one because even though I took the clip above, I don’t remember what the filling is nor what the bread is called. I don’t even remember what it tasted like and you can see from the not so flattering picture of me (taken by my lovely friend Alimo who showed me around on my first trip) that I did taste it. Perhaps Alimo will come to my rescue or one of you will and tell me what that filling is, also the name of the bread. My feeling is that the filling was either ground sesame or walnuts but I may be wrong. Looks delicious though, and yet again you can’t but admire the dexterity of the baker. I should have waited to film him stamp the bread with the beautiful implement which you can spot to his right. I will definitely buy one when I return. I will also film the whole sequence and take proper notes!
And here is my favourite of all Iranian breads, sangak, a large and very thin loaf that is pointed at one end and square at the other mainly because of the way the baker stretches the very wet dough as he lays it on the floor of the oven which is covered with hot pebbles. You often find sangak bakeries attached to restaurants, either dizi or simply kebabs like in this post about such a place in Dubai — there is an important Iranian community in Dubai and as a result great Iranian food. The bakery in my pictures is in Tehran, at the back of a wonderful dizi restaurant where the owner stopped looking at fashion in the late 60’s, early 70’s. He was dressed in a white and black suit with flared trousers and wore a hat. Quite unexpected in a place where everyone looks rather drab (on the street) because the women have to cover their hair and hips and most men are in grey or dark suits.
As you may know from my previous post, I have a piece on Iranian food in Saveur and I thought I would continue with the Iranian theme with a post about a very typical Iranian breakfast I had in a modest cafe in Tehran which was just perfect. The barbari, the bread that is normally served for breakfast, had just been baked in the bakery next door — often the bakery and cafe belong to the same owner. The tea was local, from Lahijan, and my Iranian friend showed me how to sip it through a sugar cube the way they all do. Later, at the sumptuous Shah Abbas hotel in Isfahan, I sipped my tea through very elegant wafer-thin saffron-flavoured caramel brittles. The super fresh eggs were half-fried, half-scrambled with tomatoes and the curd cheese had been made by a neighbour. And it all came on a large, rather beautiful metal tray. If my bed had been nearby, I could have carried the tray back to have breakfast in bed!
I have a story in the Saveur March issue about Iranian food. My first ever Iranian meal in London may have been an impossibly glamourous one at Ava Gardner‘s house (cooked by an Iranian friend of hers) which I describe at the beginning of my piece or it may have been an almost equally glamourous one at Alidad‘s house (cooked by his mother). Both meals were totally delicious. Since then, I have had many more fabulous Iranian meals — it is one of my favourite cuisines. Anyhow, the story is not yet online but it will eventually, like my previous one on Ramadan and Emirati food. Until then, I thought I would post a clip of bakers making lavash (or perhaps it’s nan-e taftoon; the difference is slight with the latter being a little thicker) in Tehran. Like elsewhere in the Middle East, bread is an essential part of Iranian meals and they have several different kinds. This one can be baked on a hot plate like the one in the top clip or in a tannur oven as in the clip below.