Friday, April 17, 2009

Biblical Tanur (Oven)

While we are on the subject of ovens (the oven of Aknai, for instance), let's discuss the Tanur, which is a biblical oven referenced in the Gemara. Tanur is also called tandur or tandoor. My mother is from Margilan in Uzbekistan; she's a Bukharian Sephardi Jew. She found an amazing youtube video which shows a woman using a modern version of the biblical Tanur (located in her backyard). My mother used to have a Tanur like that. You can see the video below. (If you don't want to hear the background music because of Sefirah, just mute it; you won't miss anything.)

In her house in Uzbekistan, my mother had a special area as part of her kitchen, with a partition, in which she had four Kirot and one big Tanur. Those who wanted to separate the meat from parve had two Tanurs, the smaller one for meat-baking and the larger one for parve-baking (my mother's family only made parve predominantly, which is why they did not bother with having two.) Her Tanur had steps leading up to it, but exactly as is shown here, it is an opening in one's wall, and one only begins to cook once the flame has died down (and you see in the video that the fire has died down; it is all grey.) The woman who is baking in this video begins by kneading and rolling individual portions of nan (bread), creating patterns using a tool called parak (which is a tool that creates floral patterns in the middle of the bread.) Before baking the bread, the woman puts droplets of water on each portion in order to ensure that it will stick to the sides of the oven but won't burn, then she uses a special mitt to put the bread on the side of the walls. My mother used that mitt starting from the age of 7, although she was not tall enough to reach inside the oven; she could only put her nan at the periphery. After the woman baker in the video has stuck her bread to the walls, she puts a wicker basket on top of the opening to the Tanur in order to ensure that it creates an environment that allows the bread to cook evenly, but will not allow it to burn. You wait 25 minutes and hurrah, you have your bread.


jewish blogger said...


הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

Ahh, Bukharian bread, nothing like it. ..and no place to get it like that small bakery by the Mir ( Jerusalem).

Wow. You're half Bukharian! Who'da thunk it..

Ari said...

There is another Bukharian bakery in the Bukhari Quarter in Jerusalem,or are we talking about the same one? The bread is incredibly delicious.
Thanks for the clip. It's informative and engaging.

הצעיר שלמה בן רפאל לבית שריקי ס"ט said...

..we're probably speaking of the same one ("Nechama Bakery" I think it was called. On Sonenfeld and Hasidei Karlin in Beit Yisrael. ..approachable by the stairs going down from Mea Shearim street).

The truth is though, there is an old Bukharian lady right here in my native Borogh Park that opened up a Bukharian bread shop (which looks just like the video Chana put up). I know it was between 13th and 14th but I don't know which street, or if it's even still open..

whats the point said...

the tandoori bread store is on 48th right of of 13th ave towards 14th.
Nechama bakery does not make such bread-nor does the bucharian bakery in the "bucharim quarter" teh closest to the mir that one can get it is in rechov yaffo past machane yehuda one more block towards the bus station

YU student said...

You all may find the following interesting:

RaggedyMom said...

I buy the round Bucharian bread with the floral design in the center when I'm in the Bucharian fruit store/grocery on Main Street. If it's early, the plastic bags they sell it in still have a bit of steaminess in them from the warmth!

Bucharian from New York said...

What a great video!
Such nastalgia...I once had an oven like this one too.