I have unintentionally set things on fire in the kitchen before. In my house, and in other peoples, I have caused the fire alarm to go off because of my cooking. But I had never deliberately created a bonfire in the kitchen before until yesterday. Please view the video footage below to see that this description is not an exaggeration. 

Bread. I would estimate that my bread consumption has quadrupled since coming to Tajikistan. Naan, Tajik bread, is more like a disk than a loaf. Naan is a mainstay that is included in every meal; it is cooked in a tanoor oven. To prepare the tanoor oven for baking, the walls need to be heated, and a pile of coals need to be hot at the base. This is why the bonfire is necessary. Who knew preheating an oven could be so much fun!

The dough is usually prepared in the morning, so once the coals are ready, baking can begin. The bread is slapped against the wall of the oven where it will stay (hopefully) for approximately 30 minutes. When it is golden brown it is peeled from the side of the oven. No disks fell into the coals yesterday, it was a good baking day. 
Cooking bread is a two woman job. One woman prepares the bread and one woman slaps the bread against the side of the tanoor oven. The woman in the videos is Zohira, she is 29 years old, mother of two with her own bun in her personal oven. She is a master of this important Tajik art. She is the sister-in-law of my co-worker, Gulraftor. Together, these women bake bread twice a week for their family. 

 Zohira is from Dushanbe. She was married four years ago and moved from the capitol city to live with her husband's family in a village in Southern Tajikistan. Zohira is a woman of many talents, she is also the midwife for 4 villages. The productivity and good will she will generate in her life is immeasurable. I am happy to have her as a new friend.


  1. that looks like some tasty bread. is it leavened with commercial yeast or sourdough?

  2. They actually used both commercial yeast and a sough dough mix to help the bread rise.