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What Is Afghan Bread?

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  • Written By: Rebecca Cartwright
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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Afghan bread is a kind of flatbread, the everyday bread of Afghanistan. It may be called Noni Afghani, Nan-i-Afghan, or Afghani Nan. In Afghanistan this bread is served with almost every meal. Afghan bread is about 0.5 inches (1.27 cm) thick and made in a variety of sizes. Cumin, sesame, or poppy seeds are often sprinkled on the top.

Recipes frequently call for a mix of whole wheat and white flours when making the bread. Either all whole wheat or all white flour may be used. Many recipes only call for flour, salt, yeast and water, but yogurt, oil and eggs are all common recipe additions.

The dough for Afghan bread is usually allowed to rise once before it is shaped into pieces for baking. It is molded into balls, which are allowed a short resting period before each is formed into a sheet for baking. A rolling-pin can be used, but traditionally the pieces are shaped by hand. Ripple marks on the top, left by the pressure of the fingers flattening and shaping the piece, is one of the hallmarks of traditional Afghan flatbread.

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Afghan bread is made in many different sizes, from that of a small napkin to as much as 3 feet (about 1 m) long. It is usually a narrow oval, much longer than it is wide, sometimes with small holes punched in the dough before baking. A freestanding brick oven, fired with wood, is traditionally used to bake Afghan bread, while some bakeries may use deck ovens or other industrial ovens. A pizza stone can make a good surface for baking it at home. Some recipes for home use call for cooking the bread in a heavy skillet.

When baked in a traditional oven the bread is usually placed on the interior wall of the oven to bake. One technique is to place the piece of dough on a moistened piece of flat metal, which is then used to attach the dough to the oven wall. It is not necessary to turn the bread, as it is baked at temperatures high enough to cook it thoroughly in just a few minutes without turning. When finished, the bread is a light brown or tan color.

Afghan bread can be served with any Afghan meal and is considered a staple in some countries. It is also commonly served as a snack or light meal with yogurt or fresh cheese. The bread freezes well, and can be reheated briefly in a warm oven.

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