Scholarly article on topic 'Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads: different types, and historical and cultural aspects'

Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads: different types, and historical and cultural aspects Academic research paper on "Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries"

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Abstract of research paper on Agriculture, forestry, and fisheries, author of scientific article — Vahid Mohammadpour Karizaki

Abstract Background Bread making has a long history in Iran. Because of the inseparable relationship between Iranian people and bread, an increasingly wide variety of this healthy and nutritious food is prepared and consumed throughout the country. The present work aims at documenting and providing information about breads of Iranian cuisine. Methods The required information was obtained via a direct face-to-face questionnaire-based survey among housewives, domestic people, and Iranian bakers. The statistical society was selected by random sampling among people from the top eight most populous cities in the country. Results More than 30 types of ethnic and traditional bread of Iranian cuisine are introduced in two main categories: the first group includes breads that are consumed all around the country, and the second group consists of those that are prepared in special regions, or by ethnic groups. Conclusion The historical and cultural aspects of the Iranian foods showed that bread is the most common and popular food in the country.

Academic research paper on topic "Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads: different types, and historical and cultural aspects"

J Ethn Foods ■ (2017) 1-7

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Journal of Ethnic Foods

journal homepage: http://journalofethnicfoods.net

Original article

Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads: different types, and historical and cultural aspects

Vahid Mohammadpour Karizaki*

Chemical Engineering Department, Quchan University of Advanced Technology, Quchan, Iran

ARTICLE INFO

Article history: Received 21 December 2016 Received in revised form 14 January 2017 Accepted 20 January 2017 Available online xxx

Keywords: bread

ethnic food Iran

ABSTRACT

Background: Bread making has a long history in Iran. Because of the inseparable relationship between Iranian people and bread, an increasingly wide variety of this healthy and nutritious food is prepared and consumed throughout the country. The present work aims at documenting and providing information about breads of Iranian cuisine.

Methods: The required information was obtained via a direct face-to-face questionnaire-based survey among housewives, domestic people, and Iranian bakers. The statistical society was selected by random sampling among people from the top eight most populous cities in the country.

Results: More than 30 types of ethnic and traditional bread of Iranian cuisine are introduced in two main categories: the first group includes breads that are consumed all around the country, and the second group consists of those that are prepared in special regions, or by ethnic groups.

Conclusion: The historical and cultural aspects of the Iranian foods showed that bread is the most common and popular food in the country.

© 2017 Korea Food Research Institute. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

1. Introduction

Wheat is the most important and essential staple food crop in the world [1,2]. Due to its good taste, low price, and high nutritional value, it is a food for more than 35% of the people around the world [1,3,4]. Production of wheat by the top 50 countries was 548 million metric tons (MMT) in 2003, while the production increased to 696 MMT in 2013. China is the largest producer of wheat in the world with production of more than 120 MMT. The other principal wheat producers are India, USA, Russian Federation, France, Canada, Germany, and Pakistan. Iran is also a big producer of wheat in Asia, with production of more than 9 MMT [5].

Bread is the most important wheat-based foodstuff that is produced throughout the world [6]. It is also the most popular product that is consumed in Iran [7]. The first bread was prepared over 12,000 years in the past [8]. Findings show that the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Babylonians consumed bread many decades BC [9]. Bread is known to be of global importance in nutrition, providing an important source of vitamins, dietary fibers, proteins,

* Corresponding author. Chemical Engineering Department, Quchan University of Advanced Technology, Quchan, Khorasan Razavi, Iran.

E-mail addresses: v.mohammadpour@qiet.ac.ir, mohammadpour_vahid@yahoo.

antioxidants, and micronutrients [10]. It is produced by cooking fermented dough, basically made from wheat flours, yeast, and water [11,12].

Several additives may be added to the wheat flour-yeast-water dough in order to increase shelf life of bread and improve its palat-ability, quality, sensory perception, retainability, or even nutritional value [9,11]. The most commonly used additives are vegetables (such as potato, onion, and spinach), fruits and nuts (such as raisins, walnuts, and peanuts), seeds (such as poppy, cumin, and sesame), salt, sugars, lipids, milk, egg, spices, and food starches [11]. In recent decades, many researchers have worked on addition of different ingredients to wheat flour-yeast-water dough [13—20]. Pontonio et al investigated the use of sourdough starters for bread-making from eight Iranian wheat flours [7]. Coelho and Salas-Mellado (2015) added chia seeds to the formulation of wheat bread. They reduced the intake of saturated fatty acids in the new formulation. Seczyk et al (2017) added flaxseed hulls to wheat flour dough. They found that flaxseed hull is a beneficial food additive [21].

Also, many studies have addressed the incorporation of non-wheat flours in the bread-making process [22—27]. For example, 30% of wheat flour was replaced with sweet potato flour in the bread-making process. Cardenas et al [28] showed that there is no difference in protein quality or sensory properties of the wheat-sweet potato bread. Olapade and oluwole [12] prepared bread

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jef.2017.01.002

2352-6181/© 2017 Korea Food Research Institute. Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/ licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

J Ethn Foods 2017; ■ : 1-7

with composite flour of wheat, ach, that was enriched with 0—15% cowpea flour. The potential of bread-making with composite flour of wheat-chia was investigated by Coelho and Salas-Mellado (2015).

Traditional and ethnic Iranian breads are famous for their taste, quality, and varieties [29]. There are two main reasons why Iranian national cuisine has a wide variety of breads: (1) bread is considered as the first food of the Iranian people and its consumption in the daily diet is very common; and (2) Iran as an integrated country accommodates various ethnic groups. The ethnic and racial diversity significantly includes fars, tork, kord, torkman, arab, balooch, gilak, lor, and tabari. The remainder consists of minor groups, mainly comprising armenians, assyrians, and georgians. In addition to countless kinds of bread that are prepared throughout the country, there are also numerous types of bread that are produced by these ethnic groups. Sangak, barbari, taftoon, and lavash are the most popular breads in Iran [7,29]. Iranian breads are prepared in different composition, shape, size, texture, color, and flavor.

Recently, there has been increased attention to the issue of traditional and ethnic foods [30—37]. The main causes of using these foods have been mentioned in [2,38,39]. To the best of the author's knowledge, few reports have been published about the ethnic and traditional Iranian breads in literature. The present work aimed at introducing and documenting the most popular of the ethnic and traditional Iranian bread prepared in Iran.

2. Materials and methods

A random sample of people from the top eight most populous cities in the country was selected. Tehran, Mashhad, Isfahan, Karaj, Tabriz, Shiraz, Ahvaz, and Qom have the largest populations in Iran, respectively. These cities have a combined population of about 20 million people, almost 25% of the total population.

A direct face-to-face questionnaire-based survey was conducted among housewives, domestic people, and bakers to find the required information. Also, a data gathering process was completed by searching online databases, reviewing scientific publications and literature, as well as by looking in historical documents. All the pictures presented in this study were taken after buying breads from the bakeries of the cities mentioned above.

3. Results and discussion

3.1. Historical background

The Persian word for bread is nan. The Sasanian inscriptions of the 3rd century have mentioned this word. Also, analyzing historical documents show that the word "nan" is mentioned in the Pahlavi texts of the 9th century. A definition of sangak—one of the most popular Iranian breads—was found in the comprehensive Persian encyclopedia "Borhan-e-Ghate" in 1651. One of the oldest bakeries of Tehran is located in Luti Saleh. It is the name of an old passage in Tehran that was founded in the 19th century during the Qajar period.

3.2. Bread types

There are numerous types of breads in Iranian national cuisine. Due to the wide varieties of products and different favorites of people, several categorizations of bread types may be used throughout the country. Iranian breads may be categorized in different ways as below: (1) by the type of flour: wheat-based, barley-based, rice-based, etc.; (2) by size and volume: flat, raised, and semiraised; (3) by method of cooking: hot stone-baked, tandoori, oven-baked, steam-baked, etc.; (4) by the type of ingredients added to wheat flour-water-yeast dough: sesame bread, potato bread, etc.; (5) by texture: doughy, soft, crispy, brittle, and dry; and (6) by whether or not the bread contains sugar: sweet and nonsweet. Also, the Iranian breads can be classified into two major types according to the geographical distribution (observed spread range) and popularity of breads throughout the country.

The first group include those breads that are commonly produced and used in all urban and rural areas. Sangak, barbari, taftun, and lavash are the most favorite. In other words, the breads of this group are the most popular and may be baked in each district of the country. More than 20 types of breads can be found in the first group. The second group consists of breads that are prepared and consumed in a special zone, or by an ethnic group. For example, lako is the name of a popular bread that is baked in some parts along the Caspian Sea coast. Lako is usually unfamiliar for people of central and south provinces. Another example is the favorite bread

Table 1

The most popular and common breads consumed throughout Iran.

No. Persian name Geometric shape Bread type Price ($ per loaf Main ingredients Texture type Image

of bread)

1 Barbari Pseudo-ellipse Nonsweet, semiraised 0.1-0.3 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven, sesame Crispy, soft Fig. 2

2 Lavash Rectangle, pseudo-ellipse Nonsweet, flat 0.05-0.15 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Soft, crispy Fig. 4

3 Nan-brenji circle Sweet, semiraised 1.5-2.7 * Rice flour, egg yolk, cardamom, sugar Soft —

4 Nan-esfenaj Circle Nonsweet, semi-raised 0.4-0.5 Weat flour, water, salt, spinach Soft, doughy —

5 Nan-fantezi Pseudo-ellipse Nonsweet, raised 0.25-0.5 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Crispy —

6 Nan-ghagh (ghandi) Circle Sweet, flat 1.0-1.3 * Wheat flour, sugar, water, leaven, sesame, oil Crispy, brittle —

7 Nan-hamberger Circle Nonsweet, raised 0.07-0.15 Wheat flour, water, salt, baking powder Doughy —

8 Nan-jow Circle, rectangle Nonsweet, semi-raised 0.4-0.65 Barley flour, water, salt, leaven Stiff, dry Fig. 5A

9 Nan-khoshk Circle, rectangle Nonsweet, flat 0.1-0.15 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Dry, brittle —

10 Nan-mashini Rectangle, pseudo-Elipse Nonsweet, Flat 0.07-0.13 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Soft —

11 Nan-sabzijat circle nonsweet, semiraised 0.4-0.5 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven, dill, parsley, tarragon Soft, doughy Fig. 5B

12 Nan-sandvichi Pseudo-ellipse Nonsweet, raised 0.07-0.25 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Soft, doughy Fig. 5C

13 Nan-sibzamini Circle Nonsweet, semiraised 0.4-0.5 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven, potato Soft, doughy Fig. 5D

14 Nan-sokhari Rectangle, square Sweet, semiraised 1.1-1.5 * Wheat flour, water, salt, sugar, leaven, vanilla, oil Dry, brittle —

15 Nan-tost Rectangle, square Nonsweet, semiraised 1.2-1.7 * Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven, oil Soft —

16 Sangak Pseudo-triangle Nonsweet, semiraised 0.17-0.4 Wheat flour, water, salt, sour paste, sesame Crispy Fig. 1

17 shah-abbasi Circle Nonsweet, raised 0.13-0.26 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Doughy Fig. 5E

18 Shirmal Circle Sweet, semiraised 0.18-0.5 Wheat flour, water, sugar, vanilla, baking powder Doughy Fig. 5F

19 Taftun Circle Nonsweet, flat 0.13-0.26 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Crispy Fig. 3

20 Tanuri Circle, rectangle Nonsweet, flat 0.13-0.26 Wheat flour, water, salt, leaven Crispy —

* Per kg of bread.

V.M. Karizaki / Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads 3

Fig. 1. Two types of sangak bread. (A) Without sesame. (B) With sesame. This type is more expensive (about 30—50% more) than the bread without sesame. More people are interested in sangak with sesame in comparison with the other type. Sometimes, both sides of sangak are sprinkled with sesame.

Fig. 3. One type of taftun bread. Before the baking process, the baker makes dimples all over the dough with fingertips or a metal jagged blade. Piercing the dough results in production of a homogenous bread. Also, excessive puffing will be prevented.

of Kurdish people, called shelkine. Particularly, there are over 40 types of ethnic and traditional breads that are prepared in Hor-mozgan province at the south of the country. Countless numbers of breads can be considered in this group.

Table 1 introduces 20 types of traditional and ethnic breads prepared and consumed all around the Iran. It shows the Persian name, geometric shape, and the price range of each bread. Additionally, some information about the type of bread, main ingredients of dough, and hardness of texture are presented according to the different categorizations mentioned above. The most important and popular breads of the first group are discussed below.

3.2.1. Sangak

Sangak, a thin and flat bread, is one of the most common and popular breads in Iran. It is considered as one of the national breads

of the Iranian cuisine. Historical documents show that this bread was probably invented by the scholar and chief architect Shaykh Bahai during the Safavid dynasty. What is unique about the sangak bread is the way of baking in a traditional oven. Sangak in Persian means "pebble" or "small stone." This bread is baked on a bed of hot pebbles in an oven. At least two bakers are required to prepare sangak. The dough is flattened on a slightly convex slab and is quickly thrust into the oven by the first person. Another baker removes sangak with a double-prong fork or skewer after a few minutes. Fig. 1 shows the two types of sangak bread.

3.2.2. Barbari

Barbars were an ethnic group indigenous to northeastern Iran that borders Afghanistan. Barbari implies of or related to barbars. Dehkhoda dictionary of Persian language has mentioned a type of bread that was baked by a barbars group called barbari. The barbars

Fig. 2. Some types of barbari bread. Fresh barbari can be used with all types of foods. The staling process results in a very hard and dry texture, and the bread can only be used with watery and soupy foods. (A) Soft, without sesame. (B) Crispy, with sesame. (C) Crispy, without sesame.

Fig. 4. Some types of lavash bread. Due to low thickness of different types of lavash, it is not correct to use this bread in watery and soupy foods. (A) Soft. (B) Crispy. (C) Very thin and crispy. This type of lavash will be dried quickly. The shelf-life of dried bread is several weeks. If lavash is put into plastic bags, not only will the bread not be dried, but also a pasty and very soft texture will be achieved.

Fig. 5. Some types of common breads. (A) Nan-jow. This is a barley-based bread. Although barley is cheaper than wheat in Iran, barley bread is more expensive than wheat bread due to low production of barley breads in the bakeries. (B) Nan-sabzijat. The required vegetables for preparation of this bread often include parsley, dill, and tarragon. (C) Nan-sandvichi. This is similar to baguette bead. (D) Nan-sibzamini. This bread alone can be used as a full meal. (E) Shah-abbasi. This bread is proper for those people who are interested in very soft and pasty breads. (F) Shirmal. This bread alone or accompanying butter or milk can be used as a full meal.

V.M. Karizaki / Ethnic and traditional Iranian breads 5

Table 2

The most common breads prepared in special region or by an ethnic group.

No. Persian name Province Major ingredients Main property/characteristic

1 Chepotin Semnan Wheat flour, water, salt Having long shelf-life

2 Kukeh East Azerbaijan Wheat flour, oil, salt, milk, turmeric, egg yolk Nourishing

3 Hashjin Ardabil Wheat flour, sugar, salt, oil, walnut, cinnamon Nourishing

4 Khitab West Azerbaijan Wheat flour, oil, salt, turmeric, onion, spinach Nourishing

5 Shelkineh Kordestan Wheat flour, oil, sugar, milk, turmeric, egg yolk, saffron One of the popular souvenir

of this province

6 Tiry Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Wheat flour, water, salt, oil Having long shelf-life

7 Fatir Khorasan (east, west, central), Wheat flour, water, sugar, salt, oil, walnut, cinnamon, sesame Having long shelf-life

Markazi

8 Komaj Hamedan Wheat flour, water, oil, walnut, egg, sugar, butter, cinnamon Appetizing

9 Borsagh Lorestan, Kermanshah Wheat flour, oil, sugar, milk, turmeric, cumin Having simple recipe

10 Agardak Ghazvin, Zanjan, Hamedan Wheat flour, oil, egg yolk, milk, baking powder Having simple recipe

11 Balatovah Fars Wheat flour, water, egg, turmeric, sesame Nourishing

12 Tamushi Hormozgan Wheat flour, water, oil Appetizing

brought this bread to Tehran during the Qajar period. The baker rests the flattened dough on a table for preparation for the baking process. Sprinkling seeds such as sesame over the dough is very common before baking. Finally, the dough is carefully inserted with a long wooden paddle into a heated oven. Some types of barbari bread are shown in Fig. 2.

3.2.3. Taftun

Taftun or taftoon, is a Persian word that is derived from "tafan", meaning "heating", "burning", or "kindling." Analyzing the literary documents and the Iranian national epics such as Shahname show

that the word "taftan" has been used for several centuries. In the past, the only way of making taftun was the baking of bread dough in a tandoor or clay oven. However, the baking of taftun in a rotary oven or baking machine has been common in recent years. Sometimes, taftun is made with a little salt or without it. Salt-free bread is a proper food for those people who suffer from hypertension. One type of taftun bread is shown in Fig. 3.

3.2.4. Lavash

Lavash is a soft and thin flat bread that is prepared in a clay oven, rotary oven, baking machine, or tandoor. It is one of the most

Fig. 6. The common breads of ethnic groups. (A) Bishmeh bread. This is prepared by Torkman groups that live in the north of Iran. (B) Aghoz bread. Due to using sesame and walnut, aghoz is nutritious. It is a bread of Tabari groups. (C) Lako bread. This is a rice-based bread that is baked by the Gilak group in some parts along the Caspian Sea coast. (D) Tandir chureh bread. This is baked by Turk groups in northwestern Iran. (E) Kalaneh bread. This is bread of Kurdish people. Kalaneh is a delicious and appetizing bread. (F) Chezenak regho bread. This is baked by Lor groups. Guests are given freshly baked chezenak regho as a sign of hospitality. (G) Siah bread. Siah is a rice-based bread that is baked by Arab groups in west of Iran. (H) Halekary bread. This bread is prepared by the Balooch group in the east of Iran.

6 J Ethn Foods 2017; U: 1-7

Table 3

Bread in Persian literature.

No. Poet's name Book Birth-death date The mentioned point

1 Ferdowsi Tusi Shahnameh c. 940-1020 If the breadwinner is a strange person, the family will be disintegrated.

2 Khwaja Abdullah Ansari Resale-ye Varedat 1006-1088 Do not withhold bread from the people.

3 Mawlana Rumi Diwan-e Shams 1207-1273 God provides us our daily bread.

4 Saadi Shirazi Gulistan c. 1210-1291 The satisfied person does not seek bread from others.

5 Ebne Yamin - 1286-1368 Life satisfaction is possible by satisfying own bread.

6 Saib Tabrizi Diwan-e Saib 1601-1677 The satisfied person wets the dried bread in own blood.

7 Iraj Mirza Diwan-e Iraj Mirza 1874-1926 Although the Sangak bread is not cotton candy, it is crisp and tastes pretty good.

8 Sohrab Sepehri Hasht Ketab 1928-1980 The happiness is possible by satisfying own bread.

widespread types of bread in Iran. The origin of lavash is most probably from Iran, according to the state of the encyclopedia of Jewish food. There is a tremendous variety in flavor and texture of this bread in Iranian cuisine. Some types of lavash are so thin that they will be dried quickly and a brittle and hard texture will be achieved. Also, lavash varies in size from about 30 cm in length to over 0.5 m, and in shape from circular to oblong or square. Fig. 4 shows some types of lavash bread. Other common types of breads consumed all around the country are shown in Fig. 5.

As mentioned earlier, there are numerous types of bread that are considered in the second group. Detailed studies are required to more precisely identify how many and which types of breads can be included in this group. Table 2 presents a list of 12 traditional and ethnic breads that are limited to special provinces of the country. It gives the Persian name, the main characteristic, and the major ingredients of each bread, and identifies the geographical areas in which the special types of breads are baked. Also, Fig. 6 introduces the most common breads of the top eight most populous ethnic groups in the country. The breads presented in this figure are not common throughout Iran, and their popularities are limited to the mentioned ethnic groups. Furthermore, these breads, as gifts, play an important role in the economy of the ethnic societies.

3.3. The social and cultural aspects of the Iranian breads

The bread subsidy was paid by the government to all bakeries before 2010. Iran was one of the cheapest places in the world to buy bread. The two main disadvantages to having low-price production of breads include the following: baking the low-quality products, and the profusion of bread types. Furthermore, standing in long lines to buy breads was very common, because of the low number of bakeries in each area.

The Iranian parliament passed the subsidy reform plan in 2010. Replacing the subsidy on bread with targeted social assistance was one of the goals of the subsidy reform plan, in accordance with a movement towards free bread prices in a 5-year period. The number of bakeries, working hours of each bakery, and the price of different types of bread were increased quickly as a result of this plan. Also, an increasingly quality-competitive bread market was formed all around the country. Although the consumption of high-priced bread was an unpleasant experience for the people, there have been several advantages of the subsidy reform plan related to bread production including: (1) easier and quicker availability; (2) higher quality; and (3) more variety and diversity. Bread is still one of the cheapest foods which can be bought in Iran.

Among Iranians, bread is known as "barakat" meaning God's blessing. They treat bread carefully and cautiously, due to the holy place of bread in their culture. Although many Iranian foods such as chelow mahiche and tahchin can be served without bread, a loaf of bread is brought to the table. Almost all of the famous poets and literary men of Iran have mentioned bread in their great books. Table 3 shows several points of view in Persian literature about

bread from the well-known poets, both modern and classics. Now, these points are an inseparable part of the Iranian culture.

Bread has a long history in Iran. A wide variety of this wheat-based product is available in the Iranian cuisine. More than 30 types of the most popular traditional breads consumed in Iran were introduced and documented in this work. Also, the social and cultural aspects of the Iranian breads were considered. Further studies on healthy, medicinal, and nutritional properties, and the baking methods of the Iranian breads are required.

Conflicts of interest

The author has no conflicts of interest.

Acknowledgments

This work is supported by the Quchan University of Advanced Technology.

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