Naan-e-Barbari, Traditional Iranian/Persian Flat-Bread

My search for Naan bread again lead me to this Persian/Iranian Traditional Bread. Thick and oval-shaped, also known as Tabrizi Bread or Nan-e Tabrizi, for its origins in and links to the city of Tabriz, this bread was baked by the Barbar (Hazara) people and was brought to Tehran. Though  the name Barbari has been abandoned and no longer applies to the ethnic group. However, the bread is still referred to as Nan-e Barbari (bread made by the Barbarians) in Iran while Hazaras refer to it as Nan-e Tandoori (bread made in the Tandoor oven). Another interesting thing is that, the Bread uses a roomal/baking soda glaze – mixture of flour, water & soda for that exquisite color and texture. There are many variations of this roomal/glaze. Some say it Flour, water , oil & Sugar, but i stayed with the Aparna’s  recipe.

According to Iranian cuisine, there are said to be more than forty types of wheat breads from very dark to very light. This type of bread is perhaps the most common style baked in Iran. It is served in many restaurants with “Tabriz cheese”, of ewe’s milk, similar to feta cheese.
I served this bread along with some vegetable soup for snack today evening and with some pea soup for dinner today. Such a filling meal it was. It might even taste better with some tahini/hummus too.


For the dough
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp honey
1 1/2 cups warm water, at 45C/ 90F
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Nigella seeds / Sesame seeds/ Poppy seeds to sprinkle  (i used both nigella & sesame seeds)

For the Roomal/baking soda-flour glaze:
1/2 tsp flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup water


  • Take yeast, honey and the warm water in the food processor bowl and pulse a couple of times to mix, and allow the yeast to dissolve. Then add 1 1/4 cups of flour and pulse a couple of times so you have batter-like mixture. Leave this in the bowl for about 20 minutes.
  • The mixture in the food processor bowl should be “spongy” looking by now. Add the remaining flour, baking powder, salt  and process until you have a pliable dough that comes away from the sides of the bowl.
  • Turn out the dough onto an unfloured working surface. The dough might stick a little to your surface and if you find it difficult to work with this, lightly oil your work surface or use a dough scraper. Do NOT add flour! I added oil to the dough first and started working it.
Video showing how to Knead the dough
  • Hold the dough in both hands and flip it over and beat it down hard on your work surface while still holding it. It is just like how we use to wash our clothes before the washing machine era!!! The dough will stretch a bit and the other end will land on the work surface with a “thwacking” sound. Fold the dough in half away from you, and repeat this beating motion a few times until your dough is really soft and smooth. Your dough should pass the window pane test.
  • Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a bowl and cover. Let it rise until double in volume. Though there is no need ot oil the bowl, i oiled the bowl well and placed the dough inside for proofing. I left the dough for about 2 hours, since it is a bit chill here now. 
  • In the meanwhile prepare the “Roomal” or baking soda-flour glaze for the bread. Put all the ingredients together in a microwave-safe mug, Microwave cook @ medium heat, for 2 minutes, until the solution thickens a bit. Take it out and let the solution cool to room temperature. The same can be prepared on a stove-top, just whisk everything together in a pan, heat until boils and forms thick and spreadable solution.
  • Lightly flour your work surface. Turn out the dough onto it (do not knead) and divide it into four equal pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and place them apart on a sheet and cover with a towel and allow to rise for another 30 -40 minutes, until double its volume.
  • Work on one ball of dough at a time, keeping the others covered so they don’t dry out. Place a ball of dough on a lightly floured work surface and, using your fingers (lightly dust them with flour if you feel the need), lightly press out into an oval approximately 7” by 5”. Brush the entire surface of the dough well, with the “Roomal” or baking soda-flour glaze.
  • Dip your fingers in the “Roomal” and then use them to form 4 lengthwise furrows. You can press down almost to the bottom, as the “furrows” will disappear once the dough rises. I didn’t get it properly with my fingers, so i used back of a spoon to make the same. Dip the back of spoon in roomal and press it on the dough to form a furrow. Sprinkle the Nigella seeds over the surface of the furrowed ovals.
  • Transfer it to a baking sheet dusted with semolina. The oval will elongate slightly when you pick it up. Otherwise, very gently stretch the oval from both ends making sure it is uniformly thick along its length and breadth. Allow the ovals to rise for about  20 minutes till they’re nice and puffy.
  • Bake them at 200C for about 20 minutes till they’re done and golden brown. Serve them warm with cheese or a dip or just plain with a hot cup of coffee or tea. I served them hot with some Soup for snack.