What’s Khubz?

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Khubz is a popular Middle Eastern flatbread similar to pita bread, traditionally made without yeast. It has a longer shelf life than expected and is enjoyed worldwide. The manufacturing process involves attaching the dough to a hot stone oven. Flatbreads have cultural and religious significance and have been part of dietary cuisine in ancient Egypt, India, and China. Zinc depletion from consuming unleavened bread can cause aggression, but modern khubz recipes include yeast. The appreciation of khubz and cultural flatbreads is passed down through generations.

Khubz, the Arabic word for “bread” is a version of flatbread popular in the Middle East and North Africa. This popular Middle Eastern bread is similar to pita bread, although it is considerably larger. Traditionally, khubz is unleavened bread, which is to say, it is made without yeast, baking soda, sourdough culture, or any leavening ingredients.

Khubz comes from Iranian bread nun and Indian naan tandoori bread. Khubz can be enjoyed as a delicious wrap or dipper for other foods. Its shelf life is considerably longer than one would expect for a simple bread. Khubz, like its naan counterpart, is chewier and has more depth than most unleavened breads. Like many other cultural flatbreads, khubz is now enjoyed worldwide.

As with most traditional breads, part of the enjoyment of khubz is the manufacturing process. The khubz dough is rolled or flattened into a cake shape. The dough is then attached to the side of a special hot stone oven and baked to perfection. By slapping the dough on the stone oven wall, it will stick and cook until it bubbles and turns brown. The finished khubz is removed with a long hook. The process of making khubz is also very similar to the technique used to make naan bread, cooked in a tandoori hot brick oven.

Although flatbreads have been expressed in every part of the world, each has its own unique version making it a cultural experience. Many also have religious significance in the preparation and consumption of them. Flatbreads have been part of dietary cuisine in ancient Egypt, as well as ancient India and China. Most are made in a similar way, using warm bricks; stones, iron pans or direct flames to cook bread quickly.

Edward de Bono, PhD, made an interesting observation in 2000, noting that people in regions who consume unleavened bread seemed to maintain abnormally low levels of zinc in their blood chemistry. A known side effect of zinc depletion is aggression. With khubz a major factor in the local diet in and around the Arabian Peninsula, Dr. De Bono suggested sending quantities of yeast extract (Marmite) to supplement the population. Although no one questioned his findings, his suggestion received a less than enthusiastic response. Additionally, more modern khubz recipes include yeast as a leavening agent.

The appreciation of Khubz and all cultural flatbreads continues to be passed down through each generation. Even opposing cultures agree and share the common character of this staple food that we all share and enjoy.

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