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What Is Afghan Bread?

By Rebecca Cartwright
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

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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Discussion Comments

By fBoyle — On Jul 06, 2014

I shop from a Pakistani grocery sometimes and they sell Afghan bread there. It's a very long, soft flatbread. It's not thin like pita bread and it's not very thick like leavened bread.

The bread goes really well with curries, kormas and meat dishes. I think the bread is usually served with tandoori beef and chicken. The meat is cooking in the tandoor oven and so is the bread.

Although I enjoy this bread, I don't buy it every week because it's a little costly. We usually eat the bread very quickly so one rectangle doesn't last long. I do recommend it to those who have never tried it though. If you get it ready made, heat it up in the oven for a few minutes because it tastes even better when warm.

By bluedolphin — On Jul 05, 2014

@serenesurface-- There are different types of Indian bread, but the Indian bread naan and the Afghan bread noni are basically the same. Even the names are similar!

I think the only difference is that Afghan bread might be allowed to turn golden brown. At least the ones I saw were that way. Whereas Indian naan is usually white. But the way the breads are made and their texture, thickness and flavor are very similar. I also don't think that toppings are added to Indian naan.

By serenesurface — On Jul 05, 2014

Is Afghan bread similar to Indian bread?

I have eaten Indian bread at restaurants. It is a thick, flatbread as well. I think Indian bread is baked in traditional stone ovens as well.

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