According to the Dehkhoda Dictionary of Persian Language, the word Barbari holds a few different meanings. The first is in reference to the Barbars (people living in Khorasan near the borders of Iran) and another is in reference to Barbari dialect: a language spoken in eastern Iran, Afghanistan, central northwest Afghanistan, and west of the Hazarajat. “Barberi” is also the first word in “Barbari bread”: an Iranian food that’s primarily made in Iran and a popular form of flat bread that out bakes others in competition.
First baked by the Barbar people and brought to Tehran-- the capital of Iran-- during the Qajar period between 1785 and 1925, Barbari bread became a popular type of breakfast bread throughout this time period. With many styles of breads such as Sangak bread, being made simultaneously, Barbari bread was the common choice of Iranian food amongst Persian people and remains the modern day choice of meal accompaniment today.
Thicker and fluffier than Lavash bread, a thin flat bread popular in Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, Barbari bread-- heavily steeped in the delicate flavors of the oil and sesame seeds it is often baked with-- has a soft and golden exterior with a delicate bready scent that is strong, tantalizing and distinct. Many restaurants in Iran tend to add ewe’s milk, or “Tabriz cheese” (similar to feta cheese) on top of it, and will sometimes offer a creamy butter spread to top the warm, fresh baked bread pieces right when it comes out of the oven.
If you’re thinking about making your own version of this wonderful Iranian food (and are willing to get your hands a little doughy), then why not experiment with a recipe that will guarantee you a great batch of homemade Barbari bread? If you’ve ever made rolls or bread in the past and are familiar with the process of making dough, then this need not apply to you, but for those who haven’t, make sure to compile some dry active yeast, water, sugar, sea salt, all-purpose flour, oil (or butter), cornmeal, sesame seeds, and baking powder for your recipe, and also make sure you have a baking stone and baker’s peel as well.