Date bread with turmeric and cumin

Date bread with turmeric and cumin

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

This is our interpretation of a wonderful savoury–sweet bread we tasted in the oasis town of Mahan in south-eastern Iran. Cumin is grown in abundance in the region and flavours many of the local dishes, often in combination with turmeric. The addition of sweet, sticky dates turns this bread into an afternoon treat when served with a cup of fragrant tea.

We use a heart-shaped cutter to make the buns, as this was the way we enjoyed them in Mahan. But, obviously, you can use any shape of cutter with similar dimensions.


Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons dried yeast
50ml warm water
680g bakers’ flour
60g sugar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon sea salt
310ml tepid water
30ml olive oil
1 egg
15 fresh dates, pitted and cut into chunks
50g unsalted butter, softened
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly crushed
icing sugar, to dust


  1. Dissolve the dried yeast in the 50 ml warm water and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, turmeric and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre. In a bowl, whisk together the tepid water, oil and whole egg, then stir in the yeast mixture. Gradually work the liquid into the flour mixture. Knead on a slow speed for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and shiny. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  3. Knock back the dough and leave to prove again in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Knock back the dough again and divide it into eight even portions, then cut each in half. Working with one portion at a time, roll it out to a rectangle about 17 cm x 11 cm (or roll as appropriate for your chosen cutter), and place it crosswise in front of you. Sit a 9 cm x 8 cm heart-shaped cutter on the left side of the dough and place a few pieces of date inside it. Squish on a small piece of butter, then remove the cutter and fold the dough over, from right to left, to cover the filling. Cut out a heart shape and transfer to a baking tray. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, then re-roll the offcuts. You should get about 20 buns in total. Leave the buns to sit on the baking tray for 15 minutes, then brush lightly with the egg yolk and sprinkle on a good pinch of cumin seeds. Bake for 6–8 minutes until puffed and golden.
  5. Remove from the oven and cool briefly (if you have the willpower) on a wire rack before dusting with icing sugar and eating.
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again