Most former Soviet countries have what I’d like to call a “strong” bread culture. What I mean by this is that people in these countries eat bread with pretty much everything and all traditional meals are always accompanied by some bread. In this post, we’ll introduce you to one delicious bread from this part of the world. Depending on where you’re from, you might know this bread as lepyoshka, tandyr nan, tandir non, etc. In this post, we’ll share the traditional lepyoshka recipe (also known as tandyr nan recipe) and show you everything there is to know about this delicious bread.
But first things first…
What Is Lepyoshka?
Lepyoshka is actually the Russian name of a Central Asian naan that originates from the cuisine of Uzbekistan. There are many types of Uzbek bread but the tandyr nan recipe (also known as Lepyoshka) is probably the most common one. You can find tandyr nan pretty much anywhere in Uzbekistan and every small town in the country has its own unique way of making it. The bread is most often made plain (made with just flour, yeast, and salt), but it can also incorporate butter, sesame seeds, lamb fat, different kinds of meats and nuts, or even raisins.
Origins Of Tandyr Nan
As we mentioned above, the traditional tandyr nan recipe originates from the territory of today’s Uzbekistan. Tandyr nan is a variation of the naan bread that originated from Persia that was probably created during the Mughal Empire. During the height of the Mughal Empire, the tandyr nan recipe spread into different parts of the empire which is why today, this delicious bread is a part of most Central Asian cuisines, as well as Afghan and Russian-Ukrainian cuisine. Traditionally, tandyr nan is baked in a large clay oven called tandyr or tandoor, hence the name tandyr nan.
Interesting Facts About Lepyoshka
- The traditional lepyoshka recipe is baked in a tandyr oven and this served as an inspiration for the Indian classic tandoori naan. Today, a lot more people know about the Indian tandoori naan but this recipe actually originates from Uzbekistan.
- Women are actually not allowed inside a traditional bakery where tandyr nan is prepared. All baking in these places is done strictly by men.
- The baker usually puts his own stamp in the center of the bread. The stamp is known as “chekich” and is used to identify the baker and prevent the dough from rising in the center.
- Uzbek people regularly use lepyoshka as a plate; to put other food items on top of it.
- Clay ovens like the tandyr are actually mentioned in the poem “The Epic of Gilgamesh” which was written around 2,100 B.C.
- Uzbek people never cut tandyr bread. They usually break it with their hands because cutting is considered to be offensive to the bread.
Enjoying this post? Then you may also want to check out our samsa recipe.
Tandyr Nan Varieties
Depending on the preparation method, there are many different types of tandyr nan because, as we previously mentioned, almost every town has its own variation that’s slightly different. However, the most common variations of the tandyr nan are obi non, tohax, patyr nan, Samarkand, Kokand patyr, and bukhara.
The traditional lepyoshka is fluffy, light, and chewy. It’s usually glazed with milk and topped with sesame seeds.
The most popular variation of the tandyr nan recipe is the obi non. Obi non is a flatbread that’s shaped like a disc (kind of resembling Norwegian lefse) and is slightly thicker than the regular naan. This type of bread is especially popular in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan.
One similar bread that originates from Uzbekistan is Samarkand bread, also known as patyr nan. This bread is heavier than the tandyr, drier, and topped with black sesame in the center. This bread goes great with meat stews (like shurpa) and other vegetables.
Tohax is very similar to the Samarkand bread. This bread is very similar to the regular tandyr nan and is very popular in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China.
Another bread you should distinguish as different from the tandyr nan is the Kokand patyr. This bread is larger than the others (around 32 cm in diameter), it’s thin and flat, and has a pattern stamped on its surface.
Lastly, in Uzbekistan, you’ll also find a bread known as Bukhara that’s very similar to tandyr with the main differences being the “advanced” patterns on the bread’s surface and its delicate aroma that comes from sprinkling the bread with sesame and nigella.
Working With What You Got
Baking traditional Uzbek bread at home can be challenging if you want to reach the authentic taste and texture because tandyr nan is baked in a hot oven clay (tandyr). The temperature, thermal capacity, and airflow of these clays is very different from regular ovens and the bread that comes out of them is very hard to replicate.
However, don’t worry, you can reach results close to the traditional lepyoshka recipe with a thick baking stone and an oven with convection. You can use an electric oven too but I strongly recommend convection ovens because their airflow is the key to giving the tandyr nan its authentic color and crust. Lastly, tandyr nan is always made by flattening the dough into a disk shape and stamping the center with a stamp known as chekich. As a substitute to chekich, you can use a fork or the backside of a knife (or even some other kitchen utensils). The point is to stop the dough from rising in the middle and to give the bread a nice, decorative appeal.
Tandyr nan is always served hot with a generous amount of butter. People eat it as a snack alongside a cup of tea or ayran but it can also be served as a side dish to other main course meals like dolma, shashlik, laghman, dimlama, tandoori lamb, etc. When serving alongside a meal, the toroidal loaves are broken up into chunks and placed around the table. Like I said, Central Asian people like to have bread on the table, regardless of what the main course is. Some people (especially Uighurs) even use tandyr nan as a sandwich filled with cheese, sausage, clotted cream, and melted butter).
- You can place the dough in the fridge before kneading but this isn’t mandatory.
- If you’re going to prepare the bread right away, just keep the dough in a warm place for 2 hours before starting.
- When using yeast, you can experiment anywhere in the range between 1 and 1.5 teaspoons.
- You can use instant yeast but we recommend using active dry yeast. Just mix it in lukewarm milk (not water) and let it sit for 9-10 minutes and then use the mixture for making the dough.
- When brushing the bread with butter, brush a little bit of milk too or use milk instead of butter altogether. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.
- If you don’t have a clay oven, it’s best to use a baking stone. However, you can also use a pizza stone or bake directly on a baking tray.
A Few Things You May Need
- 1 kg all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups milk
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 and ¼ teaspoon yeast
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 and ½ tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons milk (although butter can be used instead of milk too)
- 2 tablespoons of water
- 1 egg yolk
- A handful of sesame seeds
1. Melt the yeast in lukewarm milk (not water) and let it sit for 9-10 minutes.
2. Mix the yeast, salt, granulated sugar, and sour cream in a large bowl.
3. Grab a large saucepan where you can mix the milk, butter, and water. Warm up the mixture until it’s very warm but not too hot.
4. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the yeast, salt, sugar, and sour cream and stir well.
5. While mixing, start adding the flour.
6. Combine the flour well with the mixture and form the dough into a bowl.
7. Once done, cover the dough ball with a lid and a few kitchen towels (to make sure it stays warm) and let it rise for 2 hours.
8. After two hours, divide the dough into four parts and form ball-like shapes.
9. Grab a large baking sheet, spray some cooking spray on the surface, and add baking paper on top. of it
10. Add some flour to your working surface and start kneading.
11. First, gently press down into the center of the dough and try to pull the edges until the dough reaches 7”-8” in diameter. Be careful, the edges of the dough should not be flattened, only the center. Of course, you can experiment with the length of the diameter. If you want to have flatter bread, make the diameter longer. If you want your bread to be thicker, make the diameter shorter.
12. Use a chekich (or a fork, knife, or another kitchen appliance) to stamp the center of the disk to add a pattern.
13. Use a larger bread stamp for stamping the outer parts of the dough disks. Alternatively, you can also use the back of a knife for this purpose. Whichever you choose, just make sure to lift each disk from both sides to make sure it’s not sticky.
14. Repeat the process for as many breads as you intend to make.
15. Beat the egg yolk and mix it together with the milk (for the glazing).
16. Apply the glaze to the top and the sides of the tandyr nan with a pastry brush.
17. Sprinkle some sesame seeds around the center and let the dough rest for 30 minutes more before baking.
18. 20 minutes later, preheat your oven at 365°F (185°C).
19. Bake the tandyr nan for around 35 minutes at the same temperature. In the end, the bread should have a nice golden color.
20. Wait for 10-15 minutes for the bread to cool down and soften, serve it and enjoy!
Serving Size:1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 570Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 53mgSodium: 1370mgCarbohydrates: 97gNet Carbohydrates: 97gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 14g
Did you ever try this bread? How did you like our lepyoshka recipe? If you tried our tandyr nan recipe, don’t forget to leave us a rating and if you have any questions or opinions, feel free to share them below.
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