When it comes to the world of bread, few can compare to the delicious diversity found in Palestinian cuisine. Among the many varieties, Taboo, a unique and versatile Palestinian flatbread, stands out as a testament to the rich culinary heritage of the region. In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into the world of Taboo, exploring its history, ingredients, preparation, and its integral role in Palestinian culture.
The Roots of Taboon
Taboon, sometimes spelled “tabun” or “taboo,” derives its name from the traditional wood-fired clay ovens, also called “taboon” in Arabic, used to bake this flatbread. This thin, roundish bread has a history that stretches back for centuries, and it has become a staple in Palestinian households.
The simplicity of Taboon’s ingredients is part of its charm. To make this flatbread, you’ll need flour, water, yeast, olive oil, and salt. That’s all!
To prepare the Taboon, start by blooming the yeast. Add warm water to a bowl (around 100°-110° Fahrenheit). Sprinkle over the yeast and set aside to bloom for about 10 minutes. Once the yeast is frothy, it’s ready. Add oil, salt, and flour and mix well until it forms a smooth elastic dough.
Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or lid and allow to rest and rise for a few hours.
Rolling out the Flatbread
Divide the dough into even small portions. Shape them into rounds using your hands to press down until it spreads evenly. Alternatively, roll them out with a rolling pin until thin and circular. This goes quickly, so you can do one at a time while cooking them simultaneously.
The traditional method involves baking Taboon in a hot, wood-fired taboon oven. However, a stovetop cast iron or regular skillet can also be used. Place the rolled dough on a hot surface and cook until it puffs up and browns, flipping to cook both sides evenly. Another option is to cook them in a hot oven on a cast iron, just keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
Taboon in a Breadmaker
Alternatively you can make the Taboon dough in a bread maker to simplify the process the way I choose to. Simply add the water, olive oil, salt, and flour. Make a dip in the flour and add the yeast. Then turn on the bread maker to the dough setting. Once complete, remove the dough to a floured surface and continue through the usual steps of rolling out each flatbread and cooking.
Taboo isn’t just your average flatbread. Its versatility shines through in various culinary applications:
- Wrap it: Use Taboo as a wrap for a variety of fillings like falafel, grilled vegetables, or spiced meats.
- Dip it: Tear off a piece of Taboo to scoop up hummus, baba ghanoush, or other delicious dips.
- Pizzas and Pies: Taboo makes for an excellent base for Middle Eastern-style pizzas or savory pies, often filled with za’atar, cheese, or herbs.
- Accompaniment: Serve it alongside your favorite Palestinian dishes, like Musakhan, Maqluba, or Sajiyeh, to complement the meal.
Taboon holds a special place in Palestinian culture. It’s not just a source of sustenance but also a symbol of tradition and community. In many Palestinian homes, the art of Taboo-making is passed down through generations, creating a deep connection to the past.
Time: 1.5 hours
Makes: about 10 taboons
- 1.5 cups warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1.5 tsp instant yeast
- Place warm water in a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast, then set aside to bloom
- Once frothy, add the rest of the ingredients and knead well until it forms an elastic dough
- Cover and allow to rise for several hours. Then remove from bowl onto a floured work surface
- Divide the dough into small even rounds and roll out until flat and even using a rolling pin or hands
- Heat a cast iron or heavy bottom skillet on medium to medium high heat and place the taboons in an even layer. Cook until it puffs up and browns on both sides
- Serve immediately and enjoy fresh and warm
In a Bread Maker
- Add all ingredients into a bread maker in the order listed, making sure the yeast does not touch the water. Turn on the bread maker to dough setting and let it run.
- Once complete, complete steps 4-6
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In the world of bread, Taboon stands as a testament to the time-honored culinary traditions of Palestine. This humble yet versatile flatbread not only delights the palate but also serves as a bridge to the rich cultural heritage of the region. Whether you enjoy it as a wrap, a dipper, or a base for savory creations, Taboo is a true reflection of the warmth and hospitality of Palestinian cuisine. So, the next time you savor a piece of this delightful bread, you’re not just tasting food; you’re experiencing a piece of history and tradition.