Persian Flatbreads

One of the best memories I have of my travels around Iran is buying bread in the morning, which was our breakfast meal with some fresh cheese and dates. We would get each ingredient from different vendors in the market and eat in one of the amazing squares. In each city we found different styles of bread, but it’s usually flat and cooked in a tandoor oven. Of course, reproducing a tandoor oven at home is not really possible, so the best way you can cook this flatbread is on a hot non-stick frying pan. This simple recipe, taken from the stunning book Saffron Tales, is not only an exotic exploration from the usual ways of making bread, but also a great solution for those midweek evenings when you don’t really have the time to go through the whole bread making process. Makes 16 flat breads, which must be consumed on the spot, so reduce your ingredients if you need less.

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Scallion pancakes/flatbread recipe (cong you bing) – a Chinese paratha

Breads don’t always come out of the oven. This simple flatbread/pancake is very popular in China, both as breakfast, an accompaniment and as a snack, and is cooked in a frying pan. Now that the weather is colder, it’s even better straight out of the pan. Many claim that it’s the predecessor of the pizza, and I suppose, looking at how pizza doughs are made, there are similarities. The ingredients are simple: you just need some flour, salt, oil and spring onions (sesame seeds, sesame oil and five spice powder are optional but highly recommended).

The recipe is a lot looser than the others here, because there’s no set amount of oil to use, for example. In order to make it easier to follow, I’ve included more photos than usual.

The pancakes take around 40 minutes to make, but this includes 20 minutes of waiting for the dough to settle. The following recipe makes 2 pancakes.


1 cup of plain white flour (around 150g)
1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder
8-10 baby spring onions
3-4 drops of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

You’ll need water, more flour for dusting, and salt and olive oil at each folding stage. Continue reading “Scallion pancakes/flatbread recipe (cong you bing) – a Chinese paratha”