Tashkent Non (Soft, fluffy Uzbek bread)

By • April 3, 2010 • 23 Comments

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Author Notes: I spent 5 weeks in Uzbekistan for research and in that time became obsessed with the light, airy breads that are baked in every corner of every street in the city. Tashkent non is the typical bread sold everywhere in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Everywhere you go you can see bread sellers wheeling these around in old-fashioned, big-wheeled baby strollers straight from the tandyr ovens that are tucked away in the crevices between buildings in the old city.

A word about non - Tashkent non is light and fluffy and addictively delicious. It's got a chewy, glossy crust and an open, airy crumb and when it's piping hot, there's nothing more delicious. It is served with every meal, the toroidal loaves broken up into chunks and placed around the table. An individual can effortlessly put away 2-4 loaves (or I can...), either plain, dipped in honey and butter, or helping to transport shashlyk/plov into your mouth.

The other main kind of non is Samarkand non, which is a whole different story: it is dense, dry, and lasts a long time. Might be good for a stew, but not good for just snacking. Samarkand non, which looks like a giant bagel, is what most people tend to make at home and the predominant kind of bread found (of course) in Samarkand markets. The main difference in the recipe is that they use milk in place of water, which for some reason makes it more dense.

These breads do usually require a single specialized piece of equipment called a Chekich, which is a wooden handle with a pattern of metal spikes on one end. The chekich is used to stamp the center of the bread and keep it from rising. Since most people probably don't have one, you can replace it with a fork. This recipe makes about enough for dinner with up to 4 people. The bread is very fast to make and multiplies easily if you're serving more people and is pretty forgiving of mistakes. It's derived from a mixture of a recipe given to me in Uzbekistan, "Silk Road Non" from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid's Homebaking, and that of The Art of Uzbek Cooking blog (http://uzbekcooking.blogspot.com/). - solmstea
solmstea

Food52 Review: Don't let the ease with which this bread can be put together fool you into believing it has no taste. That is one of the reasons I like non breads. They are always delicious but you do want to eat it the same day, and preferably hot out of the oven. I am not a big nigella seed person so I switched to poppy seeds, but I could see cumin, black pepper or sesame seeds as well. I used the lard to brush the dough because I love the flavor of lard and bread. Solmstea's recipe is right on all the way around. Clear, concise and yummy. Definitely get out the honey and good butter for this one. - thirschfeldA&M

Makes 4 - 6 loaves

  • 2 teaspoons Active yeast
  • 2 cups Lukewarm water
  • 1.5 - 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 1 cup Whole wheat flour
  • 3.5 - 4 cups Unbleached all-purpose flour
  • A little milk or oil or rendered lard (not more than a couple tbs)
  • 1 tablespoon Nigella (kalonji) seeds (optional)
  1. Dissolve the yeast and salt in the warm water.
  2. Mix whole wheat flour into the water until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Add all-purpose flour a cup at a time and mix until smooth. Keep adding flour until you have a very soft dough. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead it until the dough is smooth. It should be a little sticky but if it's sticking to your hands, just wet them a bit.
  4. Place in a clean bowl and let rise, covered, in a warm spot for 2 hours.
  5. Dust a surface with flour and break the dough up into 4 - 6 equal pieces (I prefer bigger loaves, but size does not alter the cooking time or final bread consistency much). Form the pieces into low-domed rounds, lightly cover, and allow to rise for 20 minutes.
  6. While the loaves are resting, preheat the oven, preferably with some kind of baking stone, to 425 F.
  7. Just before baking, press your fist into the center of the dough and then pierce the center with a chekich or a fork in a 2 inch round pattern. Then brush the top of the bread with either milk, oil, or lard and sprinkle with nigella seeds (or any other seasoning you might want). Transfer to the baking stone and bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned. Spraying water into the oven once in a while has also shown good results making a slightly firmer crust.
  8. Often the Uzbeks wipe the bread with oil or lard upon removing them from the oven (I don't). They're best if eaten immediately or within a few hours of baking. Piping hot, they are unbeatable!
Jump to Comments (23)

Tags: breakfast, dinner party, Easy, Entrees, family, lunch, quick

Comments (23) Questions (0)

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2 months ago Jim D'Angelo

Its now two years later and several more quires of Uzbeckian bakers in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This year we even bought a a chekish and another similar wood tool (can't remember the name) for making the depression, usually done with the fingers or fist, before using the stamp. What we learned is from these folks is that they are using more flour (about 8 cups, not 4) for a similar recipe. And they are using the finest grade flour with no whole wheat flour. It is also not "enriched" flour, which sounds like it's better, but is actually the opposite (See Dr. Davis' "Wheat Belly."). I am now using Antimo Caputo Italian Superfine "00" Farina Flour, and have also used a similar grade Russian flour, also not "enriched." They also use a small amount of sugar. I used 1/4 cup for my 4 loaf recipe. Since I have had great success with my Italian rustic breads using a clay Romertopf, I purchased two very large clay pot "saucers" (In case I'd need a cover to simulate a clay oven or Tandor). Now I am making leproski that closely remembers what we get in Russia, and am just experimenting with the recipe and cooking time/temperature (now about 20 mins at 500 degrees) to get it even closer. I use parchment paper now with all my breads for easy transfer to the oven where the clay dish or saucer, first rubbed lightly with olive oil, has heated along with the oven.

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5 months ago Dasha

Wow, i just saw this by accident! I am from Uzbekistan, and bread is one of the things I miss most (the other ones are strawberries and melons - but can't make those :( ). Anyway, here is a question before I proceed: you are suggesting whole wheat flour - why? It was my understanding that the better (whiter) the flour, the better Lepeshka would be... That's what Uzbeks were saying...

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5 months ago solmstea

The bread is definitely really nice a fluffy with all white flour. It rises a lot more (so you can let it rise for a shorter time) and is lighter. I like to add some whole wheat flour, though, because it's a little more nutritious than white flour. It should work either way, it's just a matter of taste, and all white flour will probably be a more literal copy of what you'd get in Uzbekistan.

P.S. I hear there's a grower in Arizona who grows Uzbek melons. I can find them in my local Afghani market, so maybe there's hope for you too!

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5 months ago Dasha

The really huge ones?

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5 months ago solmstea

Yeah, the white-fleshed ones that are like the sweetest honeydew you've ever had. The ones I have gotten at the Afghan market aren't quite as delicious, but I probably didn't wait long enough to cut it open.

Like these: https://www.flickr.com...

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over 1 year ago Jim D'Angelo

Bread-makers know that a number of things can affect the outcome: the flour, the altitude, the relative humidity,the ratio of water to flour, and, of course, Serendipity. Most flour products today are 1) "enriched" and 2) made from genetically altered wheat. The harmful effects of both have been widely discussion on the net. Just Google them. The Uzbeck bakers I know in Moscow and Saint Petersburg are using non-altered wheat. It is not easy, but is possible to find "old-fashioned" wheat flour. It is expensive. I am now using an imported Russian flour (MyKa Mooka)that seems to do the trick as far as flavor and texture is concerned. However, I still have the problem of keeping centers from rising. Maybe the authentic Checkish non stamp my wife is bringing back from Russia will be the magic I am looking for!

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over 1 year ago Isab

Wow, thank you so much for this recipe. I've never been to Uzbekistan, but I've read a comic set in this country, I was very intrigued by the shape of the bread in the comic... I wanted to know if such a bread really existed. I started searching on internet and I found your recipe. Today was the second time I baked Uzbek bread and it was even more delicious than the first time (I added about ¼-½ cup more water today, last time, the bread was heavy, but today, it was incredibly soft)! When I look at your picture though, I get the feeling I should add even more water to get the same dough consistency as yours (or use about 1 cup less flour). I've read somwhere that the type of wheat used to make the flour has an impact on bread recipes. I guess that's true! Well, I just wanted to let others know that the recipe might need some tweaking because if they're not getting the absolute most delicious cloud-like bread they've ever eaten out of this recipe, they're doing it wrong ;) I'm glad I found your recipe, thanks a ton!!

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over 1 year ago solmstea

I'm glad you enjoyed the recipe and didn't give up after the first try! I think it differs not just with the type of flour, but for me it will just vary from time to time when I make it. Some days it needs 4 cups of flour, sometimes 3. I have learned a lot of recipes on foreign travels, and most of those people from whom I've learned recipes don't use exact measurements, but just approximate quantities and then a feeling, like "it should feel like an earlobe" (something I was once told while making Mexican corundas). I guess translating that gut instinct cooking into a regularly replicable process is the heart of most travel food writing. Still...tricky :)

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over 1 year ago solmstea

Oh, and what was the comic? Something by Ted Rall?

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over 1 year ago Isab

It was in fact a manga: A Bride's Story.
http://en.wikipedia.org...

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over 1 year ago Jim D'Angelo

Your recipe is great. However I use a yeast made from onions, broth and flour which gives a taste more like I'm used to from Uzbeck bakers in Moscow and St.Petersburg. Also have the problem with centers rising, which baker in Moscow tells me is because I'm using oven rather than Tandor. I'm not sure I believe this. Any info on bread cushion for leproshka shape (which Uzbeck baker uses to slap leproshka against wall of Tandor)?

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over 1 year ago solmstea

Hi Jim, yeah, sometimes I have the problem of centers rising, but I associate it with giving it too long to rise after punching the center with the chekich (though I don't know for sure). If I punch down the center before pricking it, it usually does not rise much. The bread cushions I saw bakers using for placement in the tandyr were convex, I want to say leather topped (though that doesn't make much sense), stuffed with cotton, and rubbed with or dipped in milk so that the bread doesn't stick. Then they put it on the wall with a rolling motion. I have thought about making one of these in order to stick it on my baking stone, since when I slide it off the plate, the round shape gets messed up. I haven't taken that step yet, but if i give it a try, I can let you know how it works. I'd say more likely it's a problem of letting it rise too long after you punch it down and prick the center.

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about 3 years ago Melusine

Just finished my first batch -- used white whole wheat with high-gluten bread flour, and I'm devouring one of the small loaves as I'm typing this. I lived in Tajikistan for two years, and the only food I miss is the bread and the better-made plot. I didn't get the shape correct (they look like over-grown bagels), but the flavor and texture are dead-on. As soon as the KitchenAid bowl and mixing blade come out of the dishwasher, another (double) batch will be on its way. Seriously yum -- thank you for this.

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about 3 years ago solmstea

So glad you enjoyed it and that the bread came out as you remember! I'm making some right now myself, to go along with the shashlyk I'm about to cook up. Anyway, thanks!

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over 4 years ago student epicure

fantastic! this brings up memories of when i spent time out in kashgar and urumqi in xinjiang . can't wait to try this out!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

We made these this weekend and they were very good. Pretty easy to put together. A bit different than the Indian naan - airier and fluffier, though mine didn't look as fluffy as the pictures you have. If you have tips on how to get a better 'fluff', let me know. Even so, the kids and adults alike really enjoyed it. Thanks for the recipe!

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over 4 years ago solmstea

Hmm. Well, your loaf may look more or less fluffy depending on how big an area you punch down in the center. If you press down a circle *just* larger than the chekich (or the area you'll pierce with the fork), then it tends to be rise higher. If you on the other hand punch down a slightly wider area, then the whole loaf ends up a bit flatter. Actually, the loaf probably should be slightly flatter than the one in the picture, but I can never divide the dough properly and always end up with the first loaf being really big! But as long as it tastes good, that's all that matters! Glad y'all liked it!

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over 4 years ago solmstea

Ok, I made this again last night and realized another trick: It helps to form the rounds on a well-floured plate (or peel or back of a baking pan) so that when you transfer the loaf to the baking stone it doesn't get stretched out (which removes some of the fluffiness). The dough is so soft that it was hard for me to transfer a round so that it kept its shape. This might help out the problem as well!

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

Excellent! Thanks for the extra tips, I will try them out because I really liked this recipe.

Monkeys

over 4 years ago monkeymom

This looks wonderful! What would you suggest serving it with?

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over 4 years ago solmstea

Well, if you want to do something traditional, I'd suggest some osh plov (a carrot and mutton pilaf) or chuchvarra (dumpling soup), but really it would be good with anything saucy, like a tikka masala or that mexican tomato and almond sauce. Or for breakfast with olives, feta cheese, jam and butter. When it's fresh out of the oven, I just eat it plain.

Stringio

over 4 years ago testkitchenette

This looks great and very delicious. A Turkish restaurant by me makes something very similar.

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over 4 years ago solmstea

Yeah, I guess there are even some Uzbek restaurants in NY. Sadly the sole Uzbek restaurant in LA closed last year. Luckily this recipe is really simple and easy to make at home!