Making Lavash (Nān-e-Lavash)

Bread is a staple in the cuisines of many countries throughout the world and Iran is no exception.  Persians love their flat breads.  And one of the most popular and common types of bread in Iran is called lavash.

When freshly-baked, lavash can be relatively soft and easily foldable.  At kabob restaurants, it is often the type of bread you get with your kabob because it is easy to wrap the meat with.  But then lavash can also get quite crispy (which has a lot to do with the fact that the bread itself is so thin). That is why lavash crackers are so popular, because the crispiness of the bread lends itself well to use as  a cracker.

I decided to try my hand at making lavash because I had seen the recipe in my new cookbook and thought it would be quite the challenge and quite the accomplishment if I could make it.  Honestly, while the thought of making bread in general is already intimidating (hence the reason I do not do it very often), the thought of making nan seemed even more intimidating.  But I bit the bullet and gave it a try and you know what?  It really was not as difficult as I thought it would be.  If you have ever rolled out a pie crust, then you are definitely more than half way there. :)

Lavash  (recipe from Persian Cuisine: Book One (Traditional Foods) by M.R. Ghanoonparvar)  *This book is my mom’s favorite Persian cuisine cookbook.
For 8-10 pieces of bread

1 TBSP of active dry yeast (1/2 of a packet)
1 cup of warm water
3/4 tsp salt
1 TBSP vegetable or olive oil
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
Extra flour for rolling dough

1.  Mix your yeast and warm water and let the yeast dissolve.  **If you have a stand mixer with a dough hook and want to use it, you can go ahead and start mixing everything in that bowl.

2.  Add the salt and stir.  Then add the flour and oil and begin to mix until the dough starts to come together. 

3.  If you are going to be kneading the dough by hand, turn your dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading the dough.  If you are using a stand mixer, put your dough hook in and let the mixer begin kneading the dough.  You will want to knead the dough for about 10 minutes no matter which way you choose to do it.

4.  Once you are done kneading, form the dough into a round shape and place it in a bowl.  Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for about 2 hours (allowing the dough to rise).

5. After two hours, your dough will have expanded. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into 8-10 pieces.  Then preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

6. Once you have divided the dough, take one of the pieces and roll it into a small ball shape.  Using your hand, flatten that piece of dough as much as you can on a floured surface. Then take a floured rolling pin and roll the dough out until it is extremely thin.  **This will take a bit of work because the dough will naturally want to keep shrinking back to its original size but don’t give up…it will eventually stretch out.

7. Once rolled out, carefully pull the dough off of your floured surface and place on a cookie sheet which is either lightly greased or has parchment paper on it.

8.  Place the cookie sheet into the 500 degree oven for only 2-3 minutes.  Two minutes in my oven gave me a bread that was soft without much crispiness.  Two and one half minutes gave me a relatively soft bread with crispy edges.  Three minutes created a mostly crispy bread.  I preferred my bread at 2.5 minutes but feel free to make it as soft or as crispy as you like.

9.  Enjoy!

“Man lives for science as well as bread.”  ~William James

35 thoughts on “Making Lavash (Nān-e-Lavash)

  1. How fun! I made flatbread this weekend on the cast-iron griddle, very similar but stovetop rather than oven. One thing that helps when I’m having trouble rolling out is to step away and let the dough rest so the gluten can relax. It’s hard to be patient sometimes, but at least this cooks quickly.

  2. I love these crackers! So crisp and delicious with mediterranean dips – you excel yourself :D

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Rich Sticky Date Pudding w/ Butterscotch Sauce

  3. Congratulations on accomplishing your challenge. It must have felt so good to eat the lavash, knowing it was your own product! I also like the quote: “Man lives for science as well as bread.” ~William James

    • I have never baked with fresh yeast before so I do not know. I would be excited to find out how it turns out for you! I was doing research on the differences between fresh and dry and it looks like others have had good experiences with replacing so that gives me hope that it could work. ;) I did read that the proportions might be a bit different between the fresh and dry. I read something that said that for each 1 TBSP of dry, you use 3 TBSP of fresh. Is that your understanding? Or do you have a different comparison/ratio?

      • Right I will let you know. When you use dry yeast it’s generally the double amount. So that I will add less fresh yeast then. Have you heard of Najmieh Batmanglij, I love her work and recipes. Well I will let you know how turns the fresh yeast :)

  4. Pingback: Ash-e-Jo (Persian Barley and Bean Soup) | Violets and Cardamom

  5. Love this bread and it reminds me a bit of when i made a Jewish bread a few months ago; I love baking, especially bread and I adore Persian breads and foods and wished I could have a Persian bakery nearby!

  6. This is not the real deal, Lavash is unleavened bread , yeast should not be used , also the floor should come from hard grained whit which is not available in supermarkets

    • Thank you for that information. I did not know that about lavash. I don’t bake much bread, especially Persian breads, so I relied on a recipe which I think produced some really delicious bread and it did taste like the lavash I have had previously. But it is good to know this information and thank you for your comment.

  7. Just for discussion, Your finished product looks exactly like mine, ingredients the same [no oil] but with one exception – I do not let it rise. I use whole wheat flour on the rolling surface because it retards sticking better than the white does. I bake it on the open oven racks so the shape is quite irregular all around. Start to finish takes less than an hour. I always make it crisp and it seems to last in a plastic bag ‘forever.’ While baking, huge bubbles form, separating the dough. When cooled, I break these bubbles, creating large pieces of even thinner crisp pieces. These are the choicest and most fun to eat.

    • I need to try it with whole wheat flour! They do seem to last forever. :) I will sometimes splash them with water and then toast them and they get a little softer (in times when I don’t want it to be so much like a cracker). Thanks so much for your comment!

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