Bread is a traditional food-stuff in the cuisine of all people. Cooking of bread from flour and water is done by its steaming and roasting etc. Mostly salt, connecting matters, ferment and seeds of sunflower, poppy and another plant are added to some kind of bread. Seeds will be used like decoration on bread, too.
Although there are many varieties of bread sold in Azerbaijani bakeries, tandir bread is usually preferred over others on special occasions, such as weddings, birthday parties and holiday celebrations. Typically, warm slices of tandir bread are placed next to individual serving plates.
Tandyr is a an oven on ground or dug into ground, usually built of clay. In different countries it is called – tundur, tunur, tanur, turn, Tandr, tendir, tandoori, tandyr, etc. This type of ovens is widespread in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, and China.
Mostly it is used for baking bread and cooking meat, but generally any type of food can be cooked in tandyr ovens. The secret of tandyr oven is process of heating up the oven. Wood is put on the ground and ignited. It is necessary to wait till it becomes glowing charcoal. By this moment the oven will reach temperatures of around 400*C. The food is basically cooked from the heat of the walls. High temperature ensures very fast cooking.
This fast way of cooking preserves more minerals and vitamins compared to normal cooking. Besides cooked food does not get too dry. In Uzbekistan a whole lamb is put inside a heated tandyr and completely seal the lid, and leave it for up to 24 hours. The meat gets extraordinarily soft and tasty.
Tandir bread is a bread cooked in the inside of the hollow which has been plastered in surroundings. Bread is cooked by attaching on walls of tandir. Tandir bread is also prepared like fragile bread and kept for a long time.
Tandir bread is very popular in Azerbaijan and it is very true when they say that aome old business ideas never get stale. It is not rare to see in Azerbaian a scene when one fires up his tandir -- a clay oven -- to make traditional-style Azerbaijani bread, and these old-style entrepreneurs can't keep up with demand.
Many regional varieties of flatbread, such as tandyr naan, afghan bread, lavash, are baked in the tandyr oven. Tandyr bread is only one of the variety of breads prepared in Azerbaijan, ranging from the paper-thin sheets of “lavash” to the dark, round, whole-wheat Russian-style loaves. The bread pictured here is called “tandir chorayi” (oven-bread). the bread is very often decorated with sunflower or poppy seeds.
In Azerbaijan bread is a “must” with every meal and is served sliced beside each individual plate. When the process is over and the bread is taken out, it is served to customer still hot and aromatic.
Bread is considered a sacred food in Azerbaijan. It is a symbol of abundance, prosperity. We don’t throw it in a trash can. If you see a piece of bread on the street, you would pick it up and put it aside, somewhere where nobody would step on it. Some people would even kiss it and touch the forehead with it. It’s the sign of respect to bread that feeds us.