Photo: MehmetO/Shutterstock

Preparing Traditional Armenian Bread Lavash Involves Slapping the Dough

Armenia Food + Drink
by Matador Creators Jan 10, 2023

Lavash is a thin bread that is a cornerstone of Armenian cuisine and culture, and takes skill to prepare. It is considered by UNESCO to be a part of the official Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

@foodwtf This is how armenian bread known as #lavash is made 🎥 IG: @artedeario #foodie #foodtiktok #breadtok ♬ original sound – ice cream sandwich

The process behind making lavash is complex, and usually taken on by women, though not always, especially in professional bakeries. However, if you happen to stroll through a traditional marketplace, you’ll notice most of the people selling handmade lavash are women.

The dough is simple, made from just wheat flour and water. Then, the dough is rolled into balls which are flattened and then placed on an oval shaped cushion. The cushion, with the layer of bread resting on top, is then slapped against the wall of a clay oven.

The key word here is slapped. It’s not gently placed inside the oven, or stuck against the wall of the oven like a piece of tape – it’s literally slapped hard against the oven wall. In some more theatrical lavash making facilities, bakers will sometimes jump into the oven while slapping the bread against its wall.

These cone shaped ovens are so hot that lavash needs just 30 seconds to one minute to cook, before the surface is bubbly, crispy, and brown. The finished slabs of lavash are served with barbecue meat or wrapped around greens and cheese. Lavash is also served with khash, a soup of boiled sheep and cow head, feet, and stomach. It’s common to make crackers out of lavash as well.

Lavash doesn’t play a role at the dinner table, it’s an important part of Armenian society, too. For instance, pieces of the bread are placed on the shoulders of the bride and groom at weddings to bring good luck. The fact that lavash is often made in groups helps strengthen bonds between friends and family, too. Men are involved in the process too, as they are typically in charge of building the ovens, called tonir.

Lavash has a sacred place in Armenian culture, to the point that if there is a tonir in an Armenian home it is often kept immaculately clean by the family. If you’re visiting Armenia, it’s one type of food that you absolutely have to try before leaving.

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