What is tom bread?

Cheese can be used to make loaf of bread.

In Georgia, long on the dividing line between Europe and Asia, bread has been a staple food since medieval times. Baked in a brick oven, called a tom, which is similar to Middle Eastern tandoor, these artisan breads are glued to the inner walls of the oven to bake in a dry, intense heat. A variety of flavors and textures are available for tom bread, from cheese and potato to beans and spices.

Perhaps the most notable tone bread is khachapuri. The dough for this bread dish as a meal involves the cheese, with a little butter and egg yolk spread at the end. It is then sliced ​​and eaten like a pizza. The preparation is not difficult, as it starts by wrapping the dough around a center of mozzarella, Monterey Jack, feta cheese or any other suitable combination. Then the ball is rolled out and baked – usually with small slits in the centre, along with a brush of butter, fresh herbs and a little egg yolk.

Georgians also adopt another tom bread dish called khinkali. This dish is made of pasty bags, stuck on top, with tasty toppings like cheese, mushroom, onion, garlic and various meats. The meats are cooked inside the bag, inside the oven to lock all their juices inside.

Georgian and Armenian bread, often called puri, is often accompanied by a little oil and herbs, including seasonal cuts of arugula, basil, and tarragon. These buns aren’t just stuffed with cheese and meat either. Kartopiliani is a tom bread stuffed with seasoned mashed potatoes and onions. Lobiani is crammed with coriander-stained beans and onions.

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Sweet versions of tom bread have also been made for millennia. A gingerbread called nazuki has a dough formed by mixing flour with butter and sugared milk. The spice comes from vanilla, cinnamon and coriander, which is infused into the milk before the flour is added. Unrolled and brushed with egg yolk, it is then fired in an oven that reaches temperatures of around 900°F (about 482°C). Another variety has sweet cream cheese rolled into this dough before rolling.

The Arabic tandoor oven, still popular after five millennia or so in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, is closely related to the tom oven. The types of breads that are traditionally made in one tone are often quite different, however. With few exceptions, some type of natural bread is eaten with almost every Georgian meal.

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