Hot Bread Kitchen: Nan-e Barbari, classic flatbread with an unusual twist

Hot Bread Kitchen, a bakery in New York City’s East Harlem, stands out from the crowd.

Not because the bakers there make outrageous cupcakes, or vie for a review in the Times, or compete to be the next Food Network star.

No, these bakers are far from being bright lights, big city. But the light the bakery creates every day shines into dark corners of urban life that many would prefer to ignore: namely, the lives of low-income immigrant women – the bakers at Hot Bread.

Allegra Ben-Amotz, spokesperson for the bakery, says, “[We’re] changing the face of the culinary industry by training immigrant and low-income women in the craft of artisan bread-baking, empowering them with the skills to succeed in the city’s top bakeries. The tasty product of this social enterprise is a line of handmade breads based on traditions from around the world, featured in some of New York City’s best restaurants, and carried in dozens of stores across the country.”

We’ve written about the bakery before; for a virtual tour of Hot Bread Kitchen, complete with striking photos, see our post Hot Bread Kitchen: Baking a World of Difference.

Today, I simply want to share with you one of the bakery’s signature breads: Nan-e Barbari, a traditional Persian flatbread known for its deep-gold crust and wonderful texture. Plus wait until you see what we do with this bread at the end…

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Mix together the following:

1 2/3 to 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water*
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast or instant yeast
4 cups + 3 tablespoons King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt

*Use the smaller amount of water in summer, or when it’s humid; the larger amount during the winter, or in a dry climate.

Knead the mixture — using your hands, a stand mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you’ve made a smooth, fairly soft dough. The dough should barely clean the inside of the bowl, if you’re using a stand mixer, perhaps sticking just a bit at the bottom (top right).

Put the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it’s nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into a rough log abut 9″ long. Tent the logs with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

While the dough is resting, measure out 1 teaspoon sesame seeds and 1 teaspoon nigella (black onion) seeds. If you don’t have nigella seeds, substitute poppy, or the seeds of your choice. I decided to use our everything bagel topping.

You’re also going to make a traditional glaze called roomal. This flour/water paste will be applied to your loaves before baking, and substitutes for adding steam to the oven. The roomal keeps the top of the loaves moist, allowing them to rise fully; and also imparts a satiny sheen.

To make the roomal, stir together the following in a small saucepan:

2 teaspoons King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/3 cup cool water

Bring to a bare boil, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon; this should take less than a minute. Remove the glaze from the heat, and set it aside.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone, set it on the lowest rack or oven floor.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour
Once the dough has rested, gently flatten each piece.
Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Working with one piece of dough at a time, pat/flatten it into a 14″ x 5″ rectangle. Use your fingers (or the handle of a long wooden spoon) to press five lengthwise grooves into the dough. Press firmly, but don’t cut through the bottom of the dough.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour
Spread half the glaze onto the dough, rubbing it all over. Sprinkle with half the seeds.

Slide the bread onto the stone and bake it for 15 to 18 minutes, until it’s golden brown. If you’re not using a stone, place the bread on a baking sheet and bake it on your oven’s middle rack.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour
Remove the bread from the oven, and place it on a rack. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour
Tear off a warm piece… heaven.
Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Traditionally, this bread is served with feta cheese, olives, and cucumbers.

But the heck with tradition; let’s make pizza!

Instead of patting the dough into a rectangle, pat it into a 14″ circle, or 15″ x 10″ oval.

Top as you please. Hot Bread Kitchen’s Nan-e Barbari Pizza recipe calls for topping each piece of flattened dough with 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce; 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces; and sliced marinated artichoke hearts.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Like this.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Bake the pizza in a preheated 500°F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbling.

Hot Bread Kitchen via @kingarthurflour

Grip it and rip it!

Please read, bake, and review our recipe for Hot Bread Kitchen’s Nan-E Barbari.

Print just the recipe.

Nan-e Barbari is just one of the many tantalizing recipes in the bakery’s new cookbook, The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook: Artisanal Baking from Around the World. To purchase the book, and/or to support Hot Bread Kitchen’s mission and help them train more women, visit the bakery’s website,

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Thanks for supporting this great mission and helping the Hot Bread Kitchen. I think I will buy the book also! Happy baking! JoAnn@KAF

  1. Lorraine Fina Stevenski

    What a great appetizer to share and get everyone together. Love it! What is the difference between this bread and naan? Thanks for the recipe.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Na’an will be flatter and does not have a crumb with wholes. Hope this helps. Happy baking! JoAnn@KAF

    2. Michael

      There are several type of bakeries in Iran(Persia) and at least a few bakeries on each block. The most popular breads are Barbari, sangak, taftoon and lavash. Each type is used for specific meal or event. Barbari is mostly chosen for breakfast while taftoon which is the same as Indian naan is most versatile bread and purchased throughout. The difference is in flour used type of oven and looks and texture and the taste of the bread. Barbari is thicker and somewhat meatier than naan. It’s best for dipping.
      Persian taftoon , although similar to naan, it made in larger sizes at bakeries, at approximately 1X2 feet.

  2. jjmcgaffey

    Naan! Real Afghan-style naan! I’ll have to try this immediately – my family’s been jonesing for this for years. Lots of naan in California, but it’s mostly Indian-style, with oil or yogurt or eggs – tasty, but not the right stuff. I grew up in Afghanistan (my parents were diplomats) and we all got addicted. Hope it comes out right in my oven.

    1. Karen B

      There is a great book Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. It has recipes for Afghan Home-Style Naan, Afghan Snowshoe Naan, Uighur Naan (China), Hushva Nan (Iran), Nane Sheer (Persia), Chorek (Turcoman version of naan), and Nane Casoki (Kurdistan). I have not made any of the naan recipes, but I have made their recipes for Lefse and Pita, and those two recipes alone are worth the price of the book!

  3. Ricardo Gonzalez- Petrópolis, R.J. Brazil

    This is an amazing bread and curious at same time. I bake here a version that asks for a mix of water, little amount of flour and baking soda as roomai. Then we brush this mixture at top of the bread and the Goden color is unique and deeply dark!

    It differs from Naan Kaf´s bread version because it don´t have sugar, eggs and another softly ingredients. I bake here Barbari but it remains little chewy, not really crunchy. My Barbari is brushed with that baking soda mixture and i think it helps to give that chewy crust….instead of crunchy crust characteristic if we use olive oil or butter at dough.

    How i´m happy! As i said in another past posts because i feel that you´re now at right path with a kind of equilibrium between bread and pastry posts and researching really new breads such this amazing Barbari. This bread is perfect to Couvert at any good restaurant, anywhere in world!!

  4. Andrea

    This is fantastic! It is crunchy on the outside chewy on the inside. Absolutely delicious right from the oven. It does lose some of its outside crunch when it cools. Also, I highly advise rolling out on parchment and then transferring on parchment to the pizza stone. This was not in the recipe (though in the photo). It was a mess and lost it shape even though I had rolled it out on a silicone mat. I would triple or quadruple the amount of seeds next time. Do you think this could take an overnight rise in the fridge? Thank so much for a fantastic recipe and I am now inspired to buy the book.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      We haven’t tried the overnight chill, but it should work. Mix, let it get started on the counter, then chill it overnight. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

  5. Laura Fischer

    I had seen an earlier blog posting re Hot Bread Kitchen. I’d first heard about them a couple of years ago, I believe …based on your earlier article, I ordered the book, which is wonderful. This particular bread reminded me somewhat of the Snowshoe Naan, featured in ‘Flatbreads and Flavors’ by Alford and Duguid (I think!), but that one had slightly different shaping, and was without the additional paste coating. I will definitely be doing this one! My son and grandkids would love making, AND eating this!

  6. sandy

    I made the traditional version of this last night to go with dinner. It was very good and my husband especially liked it. It was easy and fast. I am going to make it again tonight (we only used half the dough for the two of us – put the rest in the frig). I used one tsp of the KAF Everything Bagel Topping and will at least double that tonight. I am always amazed at the variety of breads that can be made out of such simple ingrediants – flour, water, salt and yeast.

  7. alan

    I have checked this book out from my library (and will be buying shortly) and have made this bread twice. The flavor is great, but my problem is that the ridges created with my fingers disappear upon the rise. Doesn’t affect the flavor but the appearance of the flatbread is not nearly as nice as your pics or the book. Any advice on that?

    I also made a baguette rather than a flatbread with half the second dough and that was very nice too.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Try using slightly more flour (a couple tablespoons to start) in your dough rather than the soft dough that melds together and doesn’t keep its shape once risen. Happy baking! Irene@KAF

  8. Betty Shoda

    Over 25 years ago I had the opportunity to taste the scones in Australia. I tried to duplicate the experience many times. After I developed celiac disease, I tried with various gf flours. I have used King Arthur gluten free mixes for about a year now and have never been disappointed. Earlier this week, I ordered a few mixes from King Arthur, one of which is the gluten free scone mix. I have finally been able to reproduce the pleasure that I experienced in Australia. The gluten free scone mix is amazing. I thank you over and over for your mixes, but especially for this one.

  9. Grey

    I am not a baker by any means, but I made this bread yesterday and it was SO GOOD! I topped it with za’atar and poppy seeds and my family ate every last bite, so I have another batch rising now. I have ordered the cookbook and I look forward to trying more Hot Bread Kitchen recipes!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Renee, you can certainly use this glaze on other crusty bread recipes, including no-knead recipes. Barb@KAF

  10. Pat

    I made this bread last night. Loved it! It is now one of my favorites. I did not have bread flour, so used A/P plus 1 T. vital wheat gluten.

  11. Helen Anastas

    I am pleased and grateful for all your recipes. King Arthur is my flour. What is the name of the book and how I can buy it. Thanks a lot.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Helen, the name of the cookbook is the “Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook” and you can buy it here. Barb@KAF

  12. Madhuri

    Love Hot Bread Kitchen, which has a stall at our local farmers market this week. Thank you KAF for sharing this recipe!

  13. Alex H

    What a great post! “Hot Bread Kitchen” is one of my favorite cookbooks of 2015! The recipes are fabulous, and the story behind HBK’s mission in community as well as the women who bake these breads is inspiring! This bread is show-stopper.

  14. Jeanne

    I lived in Iran for 2 years and am so happy to see a recipe for barbari bread! I loved it – sangak was my second favorite. Actually, I don’t think there is a specific time that each kind of bread is eaten, because those were the main 2 types we were served when we had dinner in restaurants. One other note: In Farsi, the language of Iran, “naan” means bread, so all of these are naans in Iran.

  15. May

    Someone here recommended Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid’s book; my recommendation would be, don’t waste your money, I’m afraid, if you want to use their books for cooking and not just as coffee-table accoutrements.

    While their books are handsome and full of gorgeous images, the recipes are too frequently neither authentic nor well-tested, and you will, more often than not, bd disappointed with the results of your efforts should you follow their recipes.

    Better to turn to Ottolenghi, or many other better bakers, I’m afraid!

  16. Cynthia

    I can almost smell and taste this bread from the pictures! Unfortunately in our family we must bake gluten free, but I may give this a go using a GF recipe, just for the topping!!! Maybe someday soon someone will come up with a bread flour clone that is GF!

  17. Selby

    Would this dough freeze well before baking? Or perhaps my question should be: Is there a place in this process where the Nan could be frozen with good results?

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Selby, for best results I would not recommend freezing this dough. You can certainly freeze the finished bread though. Barb@KAF

  18. Mikelib

    Tonight’s dinner was brisket pot roast with sweet onion gravy, butter noodles and carrots and hot from the oven Nan-e Barbari.

    The naan was warm, tender and a bit chewy, oh so good. This was the first time I ever used a glaze to top a bread a new experience for me. Thanks PJ I will add this to my collection of flat breads.

  19. Marion

    I am going to try this bread. My husband and I lived in Iran before the revolution. He worked at the American Embassy. It was quite an experience for me as I had never been overseas. The barbari bread there was so wonderful. I have tried to duplicate it at home, but I think the wheat they make into flour must be different. They have a unique way of baking the bread, too. There are beehive shaped ovens that are wood fired and lined with stone. The bakers throw the bread up on the stones, and when it falls off it is done. Occasionally a stone would stick in the bread.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Sure thing, Carie. Feel free to brush the top of the bread with some melted butter and sea salt if that is all you have on hand. Let your imagination go wild: Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, or any type of seeds or nuts you may have in your pantry could also work as toppings. Kye@KAF

    2. Carie

      I made it! And it was very yummy! This is a great munching bread when giving up dairy for a time. I made two loaves: one plain and one sprinkled with Herbs de Provence. They won’t last a day in my house!

      I have a small apartment size oven, so I had to shave off a few minutes of baking time. I think I will move my rack and pizza stone up on shelf in the oven next time. The bottoms got a bit too brown.

      Question: I made my dough in a Zo Virtuoso in the dough cycle. At the end of the cycle the pan was clean and the dough looked soft. But when I handled it, the dough stuck all over me! It was very hard to handle. I added a tiny bit of flour to help me maneuver it. I live in SW Virginia…perhaps I should’ve used less water even though it is winter?

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      Carie, it does sound like there was just a bit too much moisture in this dough, and it seems as though you made the right choice by adding a touch more flour to make it workable. Dough should generally be tacky but not sticky, or at least not so sticky that you can’t handle it. Good judgement call. Bryanna@KAF

  20. Cahide

    I had purchased this book from Amazon when it was first released and made the Garlic Naan with Green Chile–which was really good, especially with homemade hummus. This post motivated me to try the Nan-e Barbari.

    The recipe in the book calls for 2 cups/450 gr of water to the 4 cups/510 gr of flour. If I’m correct, this would be a hydration rate of 88%. In order to achieve the consistency of dough described in the recipe (“The dough should be cleaning the sides of the bowl”), I had to add 100 gr of flour for a total of 610 gr. That would be approximately 74% hydration, while the hydration presented here ranges from 74% to 78%.

    Since I am partial to preferments, today I used the book’s recipe for pate fermentee and subbed it into the original recipe (continuing to add the additional 100 gr of flour). I also reduced the yeast to one teaspoon in the final dough. With the original dough, I noticed a very good rise on the counter after the initial shaping with decent oven spring. With the pate fermentee version, there was not quite as much rise on the counter after the initial shaping, however there was much better oven spring. The finished pate fermentee loaves ended up significantly puffier. The crumb is a bit more holey and custardy.

    The other change I made today was to preheat the oven for an hour at 500 and then reduce the temperature to 450 when I put the pate fermentee loaves in. I used a fibrament stone both days.

    Now I’m going to have to try a levain in place of all the yeast.

    Either way, this bread was a big hit with everyone, including a couple of teenagers.

    Thanks for the motivation!

  21. Shana Buck

    Two bread baking memories I cherish: going to visit my paternal grandmother on a Saturday, which was her bread baking day – Grandpa would not eat commercial bread so Grandma baked all the bread they used. The whole house smelled so good and there were always big trays of fresh bread buns on the table with dishes of butter so we could just dig in and enjoy Grandma Emma’s bread. Her son, my father, loved to experiment with bread baking, too, and dad made the most delicious loaf of black rye bread ever. he always enjoyed experimenting with new ingredients in his bread and usually came up with some incredibly tasty loaves, although he didn’t always write down exactly what he did so sometimes he couldn’t repeat the recipe.

  22. Persian Mama

    This recipe sounds like a winner. I grew up eating and loving Barbari in Iran, and I am definitely going to try your recipe. Thank you for sharing it

  23. Karen I Ford

    Love these recipes and the idea behind the bakery. Bread baking is more than just a way to feed the family. There is something so therapeutic in kneading the dough, shaping it, baking it, and then sharing it with family and friends.
    I can”t wait to try the Nan-e Barbari for my family.

  24. Penny Troutman

    If My Wife does not receive this Cookbook, I will be inspired to buy it for Her. She loves KAF and swears by Their Recipes and Wholesome ingredient’s. She will be making this Bread tomorrow for sure!!

    1. Penny Troutman

      If I do not receive this Cookbook, My Husband will buy it for Me. My Two Grandma’s and My Mom have passed, however They would be so proud of Me making this type of Bread. I enjoy the story behind the Book, it is Both inspiring and a Joyful read. Not to toot My Own horn, I took four Years of Home-Mek in High School and was The President of The Future Homemaker’s of America for Two Year’s, It surely prepared Me to be a Great Baker, Cook, Wife, Mom and Homemaker. I have Three Book’s from King Arthur Flour and I enjoy reading Them and picking New Recipe’s. This Christmas, 2016, We are headed to California and My Son want’s Me to Teach My New Daughter-In-Law how to make Homemade Bread, Cookie’s, etc… I will surely give Her, Her first King Arthur Flour Cookbook for SURE!!! My Son, a U.S. Marine want’s Me to also send My Homemade Bread to Them Now. I often get a request a couple of time’s a month to send out to California, My Homemade Bread and Cookies. I cannot say NO, Baking is soooooo much FUN and trying New Product’s is also fun. Never give up when making ANYTHING from King ARTHUR FLOUR, They provide Recipe’s and a Hot-Line, You cannot go wrong. They also provide sooo many ingredient’s that are sometimes hard to find. Enjoy making New Bread’s etc… For Your Family and Friend’s. Bread is such a simple item to make to have EVERYONE to COME TOGETHER, ENJOY!!!

  25. Kit shaw

    I was taught how to make bread and fry bread from a friend when I was a young mom of 4.
    I’ve been cooking all kind of breads ever since. Now I’ve taught how to make bread to one of my grandchildren. It makes us so proud of our selves when we make bread!

  26. Lisa Wade

    My first memories of bread baking were of my mother making Finnish Cardamon Braids (we called them Nisu) for Christmas morning. She claimed should did not know how to make yeast bread the rest of the year, but she sure knew how to make this delicious bread which she learned to make watching her Finnish grandmother. Now I’m the bread baker in the family and am passing this tradition on to my children (along with baking just about any other type of bread we can come up with!)

  27. Merrill Rush

    I would love to win this cookbook to use in the bread-making classes I teach in my small hometown. Six month out of the year, I live here and teach “back to traditional” cooking. Bread-making has been the most popular and I am ready to take it to the next level———flat breads, crackers, international, etc using specialty flours and grains.

  28. Wendy Bohl

    I love your products. I’m just starting to make breads, I’ve made whole wheat bread, I’ve bought your flour to try and make rye breads. Thank you for your help.

  29. Linda Sharrow

    Love the looks and variations of your Bread Baking. I have taught Bread Baking classes for a small Kitchen Store in Michigan. I Loved it, but when gas prices tipped up to the $4 dollar mark I had to stay home and try to behave myself and by myself…… I am a skilled baker and we never buy Bread, I bake everything that we eat. My husband says every man should come home to a house that smells like ours does.. I Love it. Thank you for all your expertise. I do Love to Bake Bread.

    1. MaryJane Robbins

      What a great comment by your hubs! It sounds like your house if filled with happy baking and happy bakers. ~ MJ

  30. Vailini

    I used make bread w/my mom decades ago.
    &now I’m making different kinds of bread to see what my family likes. Plus a loafva bread where I live is from $3.00 -$10.00.
    Love breas

  31. Betty

    I have always baked bread and I love the smell of the yeast and rising dough – and the fresh baked bread right out of the oven is divine! I am always looking for new recipes and your recipes are always spot on. Can’t wait to try it!

  32. Sharon

    I just looked for this cookbook on your website. I can’t find it. Do you no longer sell it? Will you be selling it again for gift season in Nov/Dec? I waited to buy it and now it looks like it is gone.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Sharon,
      We’re glad to hear this blog post encouraged you to buy the Hot Bread Kitchen cookbook! We no longer sell this item as it was a seasonal item for us. We don’t currently have plans to carry it again, and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. However, you can find it in local book stores as well as online. We think you’ll love baking from it once it’s in your hands. Kye@KAF

  33. Kathy Bungard

    I’ve been using this recipe for our pizzas for about a year now and they have become legend in our neck of the woods 🙂

    I’ve tried MANY flatbread recipes over the years but nothing beats this one and I’ve found freezing it and then thawing when I’m in need of flatbread or pizza makes it even better! I usually make the recipe, cut it in half after first rise, place in olive oiled freezer bags and then pop into refrigerator or freezer. Truly, I make it ahead just because it is even better that way.

  34. Jan

    No. Do not make substitutions, do not make this into pizza. This is a tried and true bread from Hot Bread Kitchen. It’s best when made according to the recipe. Hot Bread Kitchen is a place that needs to be supported by the community. Go buy their book. It’s fabulous and has an enormous variety of breads to try, all of which look wonderful. Thank you Hot Bread Kitchen for all you do to contribute to the community. Action vs words, speaks volumes!

  35. Jay

    Made both the bread and pizza yesterday for a tapas menu – absolutely delicious!
    I brushed the bread version with olive oil prior to baking and it came out great.
    Definitely will be making often as it is so easy and quick to prepare.


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