Barbari Bread Recipe: This Middle Eastern Bread Has Something in Common With a Pretzel by Donna John

Barbari Bread Recipe: This Middle Eastern Bread Has Something in Common With a Pretzel

Barbari bread is a type of yeast flatbread from Tehran. Barbari is a thick flatbread that has a top skin similar to a pretzel. This is created by a glaze made with flour, water and baking soda that's brushed or pressed on top with your fingertips. Black caraway seeds or sesame seeds are the common topping for this Middle Eastern bread.

Barbari is an outdated Persian term for the Hazara people who live in Khorasan, Iran. The people would bake the bread to take to Tehran, and it became popular during the Qajar dynasty, according to sources. In Tehran, people line up at bakeries to buy barbari bread fresh and hot out of the oven.

Homemade barbari bread is not hard to make at home. The bread ingredients are combined in a stand mixer before being allowed to rise for 30 minutes. While the bread rises, whisk together the glaze and let it cool (especially important if you are using your fingers!). The bread is shaped into squares, rectangles or ovals, with fingertip indentions or lines made with a sharp knife, and baked until golden.

If you don't want to make the glaze, you could just brush the top of the bread with egg wash. You won't get the same texture, but it will still be delicious. Barbari bread can be served for breakfast, as a side dish with dinner, for lunch or as a snack. It's often served with strained yogurt, jam, honey and butter for breakfast, and olives, tomatoes, nuts, sliced cucumbers and feta cheese for lunch or as a snack. Store the bread in an airtight container for up to four days.

Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes
Servings: 12


  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup wheat bran or all-purpose flour 

Bread Glaze

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 


  • black caraway seeds or sesame seeds (or a combination of both)

Here's how to make it: 

  1. To make the dough, put the flour, salt, sugar, butter and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix together on low, and then slowly add the water until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer to medium speed and continue to mix about 10 minutes or until the dough is not sticky. Cover the dough and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Put the dough onto a floured work area. Divide the dough into two balls, cover them and let them rise for about 30 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle your work surface with the 1 cup of wheat bran or all-purpose flour. Start kneading the dough and stretching it into your desired shapes. Cover the formed dough and make the glaze.
  4. To make the glaze, whisk together the water, flour and baking soda in a saucepot. Simmer until it thickens. Cool.
  5. Dip your fingertips into the cooled glaze and make indentions all over the bread, or use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to make lines in the bread and then brush the glaze on top. Sprinkle with caraway seeds or sesame seeds. Bake in a preheated 425-degree F oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

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Elisa Schmitz
I'm intrigued, Donna John . We love pretzels (and all things bread), so this recipe is right up our alley, thanks!
This kind of reminds me of pita or flatbread which goes with anything, love it.

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