Taboon bread, also known as Lafah bread (and probably a few other names too), is found all around the Middle East in various manifestations. It is, as I’ve posted before, the bread used for Musakhan, it is the bread used to wrap Shawarma and is also quite often stuffed with falafel and humus. You can split it to fill it, or you can use it as is.
While I had eaten taboon bread many times before, it wasn’t until a trip to Egypt many years ago, that I came to fully appreciate it. The name taboon refers to the oven used to bake the bread, and is a tradition that goes back to biblical times.
It can be either an underground oven or an above ground, dome shaped clay oven. I was travelling with a Palestinian friend and was visiting her family when I first came across the taboon (or tabun). I was completely captivated by the whole process – the floor of the oven was covered in large pebbles (I think she said they were made of marble) which were above smouldering hot coals. The flatbread were placed directly over the pebbles to cook, resulting in indentations on the underside of the bread.
Besides the bread, there were also a couple of other types of food in metal containers cooking along in the taboon. Brilliant, really.
Of course, unless you’re cool enough to have a pizza oven, we are just going to have to do our best with an ordinary one! There are so many ways to try and recreate that charred, smoky flavour that comes from using an oven like that.
- you could place a couple of pieces of burning charcoal on the bottom of your oven (in a heatproof container), seriously, just like making mandi – recipe soon!
- hold the cooked bread over an open flame after
Now if you have a pizza stone, that will do nicely for baking this bread on. Otherwise, use ceramic baking beans or even some clean pebbles to line a pie or tart tin – perfect! See picture below.