19
Feb

iran-breakfast copy

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!

iran-barbari bakery-loaves proofing copy

The breakfast was so delicious, I didn’t mind the men looking at me as if I were a curious beast. I was veiled but that didn’t make me fit in. When I finished eating, I went into the bakery to see how they made the bread. I am not sure why I didn’t film them like in the other bakeries. Perhaps they didn’t let me. Anyway, I took a few pictures. In the one above, you can see the loaves being prepared for baking. At that stage they are much smaller. Perhaps because the dough is very soft after bulk-proofing, the bakers need to shape and place it quite tightly on the work table, so they can first grease it with a little tahini (or at least it looks like tahini from the pictures) then with the tip of their fingers, to make deep indentations in regular lines all over.

iran-barbari bakery-gettingready to place on hot plate copy

While two of the bakers were greasing the dough and making the indentations, a third one lifted the loaves one by one and as he was doing this, he stretched them to get the long oval shape so typical of barbari bread then laid them on the rotating hot plate.

iran-barbari bakery-bread baking copy

I didn’t count how many rotations the breads had to go through before they baked but it must have disappeared at least twice behind the screen before they were completely baked.

iran-nan-e barabari copy

Once the loaves were done, the baker stood them against each other so that they didn’t weigh down and steam up. Barbari needs to be soft inside and crisp outside.

iran-man carrying bread thru bazar copy

The breakfast place was across from the grand bazar where surprisingly there was hardly any food. It was fun to visit though and even there, I found bread, carried by this charming character I guess to a restaurant as he had quite a stack on his shoulders!


There is 9 comments on this post


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Great looking bread and the ‘oven’ looks interesting too.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    it is v interesting, and v common. i never asked them to show me what kind of heat was behind the screen but i assume it is gaz cos these bakeries seem to be the ‘fast’ ones 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    this looks amazing! the bread in the last photo is sangak. my mom frequently reminisces about dipping warm sangak in water, then in sugar and eating it when she was a little girl =)


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    i wondered if it was sangak. i love it and have pics of a sangak bakery but they are not so great. will post them though tomorrow or day after 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Yep, the last picture makes it look like awfully like sangak…but I think sangak is far thinner and crispier all through, and it’s baked on hot stones. Gonna have to hunt out barbari dubai.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    yes, i don’t think it is sangak either. must visit that place you blogged arva. have you eaten at shabestan yet? love the food there 🙂


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    Anissa, I love the fact that you include so much information about the cultures from which the belly dances come. Thank you for the information.


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    It is great to finally see how this famous bread is made. Thank you for this post!


  • Warning: Undefined array key 36 in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/functions.php on line 377

    “I was veiled but that didn’t make me fit in”

    I am sure that you must have noticed that being “veiled” is not part of Persian custom but rather the laws in Iran. The veil (or hijab) has been mandatory in Iran since 1979. And perhaps you saw how Iranian women wear their veil losely and more as an accessory (they do anything to make it look less islamic).

    “they can first grease it with a little tahini (or at least it looks like tahini from the pictures)”

    No dear. That was definitely not “Tahini” you saw. Although, Ardé (that’s how Iranians call Tahini in Persian) is eaten in some parts of Iran, it is absolutely not part of Persian culinary traditions. In other words, Iranians normally don’t eat it, and even less use it for cooking or baking.
    If you want to write about the Barbari bread or Persian breads, please make sure to do a little research before publishing these stereotypically erroneous assumptions you have about Persian cuisine and cooking techniques.
    Again, this is about Iranian food and Iranian bread. Not Levantine (Middle Eastern) cuisine.

Leave a Comment


Warning: Undefined variable $user_ID in /data/40/0/131/109/783598/user/802494/htdocs/anissahelou/wp-content/themes/Anissa/comments.php on line 38