The word “non” comes from Persian, where it is sometimes transliterated “na’an” or just “naan.” Throughout the region, the word refers to a variety of wheat-flour, leavened flatbreads with the slightly smoky sourdough tastes and textures that are the result of being cooked in large clay (tandoor) ovens.
Non is found in many shapes and sizes, and with different flavors, throughout Iran, Turkic Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, northern India and China’s western Xinjang Province. Uzbek non is easily recognized by its round shape, shallow depression in the middle, soft chewy texture, distinct flavors, goldencrust, and frequently intricate decorative patterns. Uzbek non, as I discovered, varies in taste, size and appearance from province to province, city to city, town to town.
At the Chorsu bazaaar in Tashkent, the tools used to decorate non are works of art in themselves. Chekich (bread stamps), top, often are made of nails arranged in patterns. They prevent the center of a loaf from rising too high, and the holes they create allow steam to escape.
|Article & Photo: (c) Eric Hansen
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