Lavash is a soft, thin unleavened flatbread made in a tandoor and eaten all over the South Caucasus, Western Asia and the areas surrounding the Caspian Sea. Lavash is one of the most widespread types of bread in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey.
In 2014, “lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia” was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2016, making and sharing flatbread (lavash, katyrma, jupka or yufka) in communities of Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey was inscribed on the list as well.
Preparation of Lavash Bread
Lavash is made with flour, water, and salt. The thickness of the bread varies depending on how thin it was rolled out. Toasted sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds are sometimes sprinkled on before baking.
Traditionally the dough is rolled out flat and slapped against the hot walls of a clay oven. While quite flexible when fresh, lavash dries out quickly and becomes brittle and hard. The soft form is easier to use when making wrap sandwiches; however, the dry form can be used for long-term storage (almost one year) and is used instead of leavened bread in Eucharist traditions by the Armenian Apostolic Church. In Armenian villages, the dried lavash is stacked high in layers to be used later, and when the time comes to rehydrate the bread, it is sprinkled with water to make it softer again. In its dry form, left-over lavash is used in Iran to make quick meals after being rehydrated with water, butter and cheese. In Armenia the dried bread is broken up into khash. In Armenia fresh lavash is used to wrap Khorovats and to make wraps with herbs and cheese. In Iran, Turkey and Middle-east lavash is used with kebabs to make dürüm wraps. According to the Encyclopedia International, “Common to all Armenians is their traditional unleavened bread, lavash, which is a staple in the Armenian diet.”
In Sabirabad District of Azerbaijan after the wedding when the bride comes in new house, her mother-in-law puts lavash on her shoulder and says: “Let you come to the house of wealth, let your foot be lucky”. In Novkhani settlement after the funeral, as usual people prepare kyulchya, which sometimes is halva wrapped up in lavash.
- 2½ cups plain flour (all-purpose flour), plus extra for rolling
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ⅔ cup water, plus additional if needed
- 1 egg
- 3¾ tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, melted, and cooled slightly
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- Place the flour, salt and sugar into a medium bowl and whisk to combine. In a small bowl whisk together the water, egg, and 1½ tablespoons of the butter. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together, adding additional water if the dough is dry. Knead the dough in the bowl 5 to 6 times. Turn the dough out onto the counter, divide into thirds, cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190 °C.
- Lightly butter the back of a half sheet pan using some of the remaining butter. Place the sheet pan, upside down on a surface that will prevent sliding. Working with one ball at a time, place the dough ball onto the back of the sheet pan and roll the dough out to an even 3mm thickness. Gently stretch the edges of the dough so they fall slightly below the edge of the pan and hold the dough in place. Lightly brush the dough with butter, place on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the lavash to a cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining dough, on a cooled pan. Break each sheet into shapes and sizes as desired. Once completely cooled, store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.