History Wars Afghanistan War

This is how to replicate Afghan Naan troops ate while deployed

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A table filled with Afghan taste treats is shown, with a large basket of Afghan bread, also known as naan, in the foreground during a recent feast held near Kabul. (Photo by Maj. Joel Anderson, DVIDS)

Every now and then we can get nostalgic when looking back on our past deployments. One of the best ways to go down memory lane is with food. While the original bakers used a tandoor to make the special bread, it can also be baked using a pizza stone but in a home oven under very high temperatures. Soldiers deployed to Afghanistan have had the bread countless times because it is considered The Afghan “national bread.” Literally, everyone takes the bread for breakfast every day, but to a US troop tired of MREs, will eat it with every meal if given the opportunity.

Due to the popularity Afghan Naan has gained, many people are curious to know how to prepare it. Such traditional foods are hard to make, especially if there is a lack of equipment like a tandoor. Almost every home today has an oven, but hardly will you find a tandoor in a regular house. Nonetheless, experts claim that you can still make a tasty Afghan Naan bread using a home oven, just like the one soldiers ate while on deployment.


To make the perfect Afghan Naan, you will need dry yeast – one teaspoon, whole wheat flour, two cups, one tablespoon kosher salt, three and a half cups (17 oz.) all-purpose flour, one teaspoon canola oil and one teaspoon nigella seeds.

The preparation and baking process is crucial because it determines the outcome, so be keen while handling the bread.

Take a large bowl, add 2½ cups of warm water (860 F), and then spatter with yeast. Pour in the wheat flour and stir using a wooden spoon till everything is well-mixed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm section of the house for one hour and thirty minutes.

(Photo by Monica K. Guthrie, Fort Sill PAO)

When everything is puffed up nicely, add some salt and one cup of all-purpose flour over the dough. Keep stirring with the wooden spoon as you add half a cup of white flour in bits until the dough is stiff enough. Prepare a clean working space and sprinkle a lot of flour on the surface. Turn the dough onto the working area, kneading to make it soft and supple. If needed, you can add some flour to the dough to prevent it from sticking to the working space.

Clean the large bowl you used early and coat with oil, then put the dough back inside it, and once again cover with a plastic wrap. Leave it to rise and preferably in a warm corner for two hours.

In the meantime, prepare the pizza stone and place it on the bottom rack of your oven, then preheat to 4500 F. Once the dough has risen as required, prepare a working space again and lightly sprinkle flour on it. Divide the flour into four equal pieces, then carefully stretch each section with a flat oval up to about six inches on the width and four on the length. Cover the four quarters with plastic wraps and leave for about twenty minutes to allow the gluten to settle.

Once the oven is hot enough, begin the shaping process. Have a space bowl with cold water near your working space and dip your fingertips in it, then make uniform dents on the first piece of dough. After shaping it, sprinkle the nigella seeds, then pick it up with both hands and place it on the hot pizza stone. Bake the first piece for about four minutes until golden. Once the first bread is in the oven, start shaping the next one and follow the same procedure. 

Place each on a wire rack and wait for it to cool. They are best served warm, so don’t let them cool too much.