Holy Bread (Qurban)

January 31, 2010  • 

 

This sweet (holy)  bread is just good! According to Chef Ramzi, in The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon, this recipe is at least 100  years old; how about dating  back to the  Byzantine period?

In the town of Deir el Qamar in the Shouf where  our family originates,we  would buy this sweet bread at the store; usually, we’d finish it before getting home.

It has no eggs, but all the best  flavorings,mastic, mahlab, orange blossom and rose water, nutmeg and some milk. For the sake of authenticity, I used  a mold I got online from a purveyor of Greek-based goods, as it is the same mold used in Lebanon.  It has an inscription in Greek Christ is risen or something like that; ( I don’t read Greek!). According to Chef Ramzi, this holy bread recipe is from the Greek-Catholic church in Lebanon. It represents the body of Christ and is distributed at church, sold in  stores and bakeries; traditionally it was  made at home on certain occasions and given to the priest to bless, keep some and give out  the rest.


INGREDIENTS:

  • 6  cups of flour
  • 1 1/2  cups of sugar
  • 4  tablespoons of butter, soft (optional)
  • 1  1/2 tablespoons  of dry  yeast, 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 6 pebbles of mastic, ground with a teaspoon of sugar in a marble mortar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon mahlab (can substitute ground anise, or cinnamon)
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/8 cup orange blossom water
  • 1/8 cup of rose water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

METHOD:

  1. Proof the yeast in 1/4 cup of water warmed at 110F and a dash of sugar.
  2. Mix the flour with the sugar, mahlab, ground mastic, nutmeg, dash of salt and baking powder.
  3. Add the rose and blossom water in a small container.  Measure the milk and let it sit at room temperature or make sure it is not too cold. Ideally, you want it at 110F.
  4. Place the flour mixture in a mixing bowl and add the yeast, milk and rose water mixture and mix the  dough until  smooth. Let it rest one hour.
  5. Divide the risen dough into small balls. Let them rise 2 hours.
  6. Shape the balls into flattened disks and  let rise one hour.
  7. Sift a thin layer of flour on the disks and press the mold firmly on each disk.
  8. With a toothpick, poke each disk 5 times all around to help prevent it swelling up while baking. (5 times to symbolize Christ who was nailed 5 times to the cross)
  9. Let the disks rest and  preheat the oven to  400F  or you can also use your gas grill, making sure the disks are placed on a heavy-bottomed sheet.
  10. Bake the bread for 10 minutes or so until golden.

 

Coptic molds

The Coptic church uses a bread that is simply made up of the following  ingredients:

  • 4 cups of unbleached flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Use the same method.

Comments

68 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. PJ says:

    This is the first time I am hearing about this bread.Really looks different and must taste good too!!!

  2. Diana (Soap & Chocolate) says:

    Wow, gorgeous!

  3. Arlette says:

    Oh I love this….Sahtein w hana
    I made some this summer and lost the photos when my computer crashed…
    I dont have a mold i used a tweezer to decorate a cross … I have to ask mom to bring me one
    with her when she comes… Do you think Dabbous Stores are still open in West Beirut???…
    they used to sell wooden stamps.

    To confirm your story, in Baalback the Qurban are prepared during Easter with the maamoul, you will not find a house in that region without Qurban During Easter time., (The majority of the Christians in Bekaa are Catholic Malakiyeen…(Greek Catholic)

    • Joumana says:

      Arlette, I don’t know if Dabbous are still open, I will ask my cousin; the funny thing is, I was looking everywhere last summer for the “malkat” for the maamoul and nobody had them until I found an elderly shopkeeper in a tiny “dekkane” down the street from us in Clemenceau who pulled out some great-looking brass ones from his drawer! If you need some, I will mail you one, I have more than I need!

  4. HistoryOf GreekFood says:

    The inscription NIKA means “He conquers”. The bread – without the flower waters- looks like Artos, a Greek celebration bread.
    Lovely recipe, its flavors fit Easter.

  5. Miriam/The Winter Guest says:

    Such a beautiful bread!

  6. oum mouncifrayan says:

    waawww, what a beautiful shape!!! i like ths version! never seen before! thanks joumana

  7. Rosa says:

    What pretty moulds! Those beautiful breads must be so frangrant! divine!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  8. Julie says:

    Comme d’habitude, très très jolis pains! Bisous!

  9. Joanne says:

    I like your disclaimer…but isn’t it sad that we can’t just enjoy bread without worrying that it will be interpreted as more than just bread.

    This particular bread looks delicious though! I love all of the spices in it…definitely very tasty.

  10. Rachana Kothari says:

    This is the first time I’ve heard about this bread…looks great and am sure would taste yumm especially with all the exotic spices in it…The moulds are really very pretty:)

  11. TastyTrix says:

    I have to look up “mastic” now. This is a seriously beautiful bread, just gorgeous how you did it.

  12. Kim says:

    The mold you used for this bread is simply gorgeous! It looks like one delicious bread. Thanks for visiting my site!

  13. Sushma Mallya says:

    Very beautiful and so nice…..the way u making this bread is really interesting…

  14. SE says:

    wow..these look so wonderful and cute!!! gr8 work, Joumana!

  15. MAG says:

    Hi Joumana,
    I love Qurban bread 🙂 thanks for sharing the recipe. Your molds are very nice too 🙂 Seems simple too. I have to give it a try. I have all the ingredients except the ground mastic, you think it’ll make a big difference?

  16. sabah says:

    Je ne connais pas cette recette, merci de me l’avoir présentée.

  17. peter says:

    Joumana, looks great, just like mom’s! As you know, we use the molds for regular bread and they do offer a nice presentation. Glad you found the molds from an online dealer.

  18. Ivy says:

    I would add to Marianna’s comment that this is also called “prosforo” from the verb prosfero which means to offer. There is a lot more to this bread in Orthodox religion when making this bread. I see in the seal ICXC NIKA this means Ιησούς Χριστός Νικά (Jesus Christ conquerring) and implies conquerring death by his resurrection.
    I have a question Joumana. I’ve seen you mentioning a couple of times “Greek-Catholic church in Lebanon”. Is there a church where both orthodox and catholics share?

    • Joumana says:

      Hi Ivy,
      Fortunately this time I can answer your question! No, the Greek-Catholic church and the Greek-Orthodox church in Lebanon (throughout the Levant actually) are separate. They were not initially; This church was founded around the 4th century in Antioch, which was a Greek colony (founded by one of Alexander’s generals). The liturgy and the people of that era spoke Greek and this went on (I am being super brief here!) till the 18th century, when there was a break with the Orthodox church. So, you can say that the Greek-Catholics (also called Melkites) have a foot in the East and a foot in the West; they embraced Rome and papal authority (I heard they were bribed lol) and yet they retain their attachment to their Byzantine rites and traditions; for example the liturgy was always in Greek and Arabic; so, in short, the two are separate even though the liturgy is almost identical! (in both churches in Lebanon I saw the priest say “tfootfoo al-shaytan” translating ” spit spit at the devil!”

  19. northshorewoman says:

    looks like a beautiful tasty recipe. The ingredients sound divine–no pun intended!

    Isn’t it too bad that folks from the ME need to put a disclaimer about religion for English language readers not familiar with the diveristy and complexty of religion and spiritual thought and practice in the ME? I say, let them eat cake!

    Baking cakes for the divinity precedes monotheistic institutionalized religion. Sun cakes are still baked in Norway, sun cakes that are linked to the old calender and the old beliefs. Putting a cross on the cake or an inscription referencing Jesus is a recent addition in the passage of spiritual rituals honouring the abundance of food given to us by the Mystery which does not have a name. Which goes by a 1000 names.

  20. farida says:

    Joumana, what an interesting recipe! You know, in one particular region of Azerbaijan, they make this bread called kulche on Ramadan. The dough is prepared differently than yours and the bread is flaky (multiple layers, buttered), but the mold we press onto the bread to obtain a pattern is so much similar to what you have! Except it is a flower with sort of fanned leaves all around. But the concept of decorating them with a mold is almost the same. The mold is made of clay and has a handle. Isn’t it interesting? So much in common. Love your blog. I learn so much from you.

  21. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    Thankyou so much for introducing this fantatsic bread! 😀 It does sound like it would be wonderful indeed!

  22. Faith says:

    This bread is so pretty, I love that design from the mold you used! I love reading about recipes with a history, so I’m really glad you shared this one!

  23. peachkins says:

    This Holy Bread looks great!

  24. Velva says:

    Your holy bread look absolutely delightful. I think a couple of these served up with a good cup of coffee and the world would be good. 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  25. Marysol says:

    It would take a few therapy sessions for me to get up the courage to break into a bread this beautiful.
    Btw, I’m very interested in trying your recipes, some of which contain ‘mastic.’ So I think it’s high time I looked it up.

  26. Spice says:

    First the name of the bread & then it’s look, wow !…never seen anything like that…mold for breads, another thing added to my “to buy list”….

  27. cmiranda says:

    I’ve heard of this bread before from one of my coobooks but it doesn’t say the story behind the name.Thanks again Joumana for sharing this recipe and the story behind it with us.

  28. annette says:

    Can this bread be used for a 40 day mass?

  29. Melinda says:

    THANK YOU! I seemed to have lost my Qurban recipe. Ack. Easter is tomorrow. You’ve saved the day! Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!

    Having lived in Libnan for quite some time in the 90’s I simply fell in love with this bread (and with a lot of things in Libnani culture!).

    Now we use it for Easter every year– but simply designed with a cross, as I haven’t found stamps anywhere. Any suggestions where to find them in the US or to order online?

    Thanks again for the recipe!

  30. lebwmex says:

    I just made these and they are very fragrent. It will become a tradition in our home to make these every Easter. Thanks for sharing Joumana

  31. Isela says:

    Dear Friends, Happy Easter!!!

  32. eliabel says:

    I am happy that I found your blog. I love Lebanese food. My main source of recipes are Claudia Roden’s books, but it is so good to see; not only to read, how you do things. I admire especially this incredibly beautiful bread. I am Orthodox Christian, and I like very much baking. Every Easter I bake Russian and Italian Easter Bread. I would like very much to try yours. Could you kindly link me to your Greek provider? I would like to use the same authentic mould. Thank you in advance!

  33. joumana says:

    hi joumana i love kurban when i always i go to lebanon i have to go to deir al kamar to buy kurban it’s very good there and i’m so happy to got your recepie , i have a question for you i need to know how to make (Kinafe with Kaak) just i want the recepie of kaak if you know it please send it to me thanks for helping

  34. gourmandelise says:

    Très joli, je ne connaissai pas cette spécialité!
    Merci de ton passage sur mon site!

  35. lama says:

    hi Joumana,I love kurban and always make some for my boys. Yes dabouse still open his shop,at christmas when I was in Lebanon and I bought several mould from his shop in Beirut, the one in tarik al jadida, I hope you can get some it is so nice and traditionalI

  36. Simon Jonsson says:

    Hello!

    My name is Simon Jonsson och I am from Sweden. I wonder what the words on the coptic bread stamp means? And what does the 12 crosses and the arrow means? What is the symbolic meaning?

    Thanks,

    Simon

  37. The Gypsy Chef says:

    Joumana,
    This bread sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to sample the aroma. I have to make it.
    Pam

  38. Ziad says:

    I saw Qurban on the outskirts of a souk in Tripoli on my trip to Lebanon in July.

  39. zoon says:

    Thanks Joumana for the great recipe !!! a taste that brings back memory and grows wings…
    some bakeries still prepare it on daily basis, like in Bekaa Valley (Zahlé), either in Easter period or not.

    Joumana, in which church exactly the priest spit on the devil?
    am Melkite Catholic from Sidon (my parents might know your mom, lool) and lived in Sidon and Beyrouth for 25 years, and attended mass regularly in Grec Catholic churches and never heard this… it might have been abandoned by some churches and left to the discretion of the priest himself…

    Does anyone know if I can get those molds from Paris?

    thanks, and glad to be a blogger of your website 🙂

  40. Rula says:

    This bread is DELICIOUS!!! It is a slightly sweet and wonderful smelling bread…very addictive. If you havent’ tried you are missing out.

  41. elizabeth says:

    I am a Melkite in the USA. We use this bread for Eucharist as qurban. I make it often but do not use fragrant waters, except on special occasions.

  42. Diana says:

    I just made this recipe, and it is absolutely delicious, however, it was like cookie dough and not bread dough. We were only able to get 14 “cookies” out of this batch. I make holy bread all the time, and use over 4 cups of water to make the bread dough. What did we do wrong? It also didn’t say what to do with the butter, so we just added it to the flour. The flavor is truly amazing; but I was hoping for a lighter weight bread – not a heavy cookie. Am I wrong, or does it need more liquid? I always thought yeast is activated by water or liquid – not flour.

  43. kim says:

    This is a HOLY bread and nothing like klacheh. It is used at Eucharist as qurban in the Orthodox Church. Thank you for the receipe i needed it because tomorrow is Sunday and it is my turn to make it so that our priest can use some of it for the bread and the wine (the body of Christ)and the rest distributed to the rest of the Parish after communion.

  44. Jennifer says:

    Do you think Qurban is a regional thing in Lebanon?? My family’s from Hardine, but I never had it until moving to Philly. Lots of families in my Maronite church here make it for 40 day masses.

  45. Kitty Kat says:

    I have been looking for this recipe for weeks! My husband is Lebanese and i tried it in Zahle 2 years ago in Lebanon and i’ve been thinking about it ever since. I will try making it this coming week. Great blog by the way!
    Kat from Greece

  46. George says:

    I am a Coptic Christian and I was wondering for the Coptic Holy Bread, You said to use the same method. I know that the Holy Bread is different but, Do you put Baking Powder and a dash of salt? Also do you mix all of the ingredients on step two? It would be better if you made instructions just for the Coptic Bread.

    Thanks for helping me out.

  47. George says:

    Okay Thanks I want to do it soon.
    Thanks so much for answering

  48. George says:

    Also please send me the ink to the new post for the Coptic Bread.

    Thanks again and God Bless

  49. George says:

    It is George again. Were you able to find the information about the Coptic bread?
    Thanks

    • Joumana says:

      @George: I was able to get in touch with a Coptic friend (the one who lent me the molds for the cookies) just recently and she is going to look into it. I will let you know if I get more info.

  50. George Mikhail says:

    Were you able to find the recipe for the Coptic qourban?

  51. George says:

    Were you able to find out anything on the Holy Coptic Bread???
    Thanks

  52. Souad Der Ohannessia says:

    Many thanks for your korban recipe, my husband passed away on the 15 of June 2012,and I wanted to bake the authentic Lebanese korban for his 1 year remembrance mass, searched the net for a while, then found your website,
    Many thanks for your contribution, a fellow Lebanese, may God bless you and reward you, for your help,
    With gratitude,
    S Der Ohannessian.

  53. kambing aqiqah says:

    qurban ?

  54. Suzanne says:

    Thanks for this recipe, but it isn’t for qurban exactly. We Melkites do not put milk or butter in the eucharistic bread. The bread used for the Holy Eucharist is a simple yeast bread which, beyond yeast, flour, water, and salt, may only contain sugar, mahlab and/or blossom water at the most to make it sweet. This recipe looks delicious, but is more like “Ka’ik bi-haleeb,” or “sweetbread with milk,” which is more of a special treat, esp. for children, and is not appropriate to use as the bread that becomes the Body and Blood of Jesus during the Divine Liturgy. It looks like a great ka’ik recipe though! Thanks for sharing.

    • Joumana says:

      @Suzanne: Thanks for your input! I was actually brought up in the Melkite rite and did not have time to ask the priest 🙂 I will see if I can come up with a recipe from the Melkite church next time 🙂

  55. Sam says:

    Can we buy online?
    I hope somebody sells them online.

  56. Jason Argon says:

    Try also the Cretan variation :Boil 5 glasses of muskat wine with mastic ,coriander,mahlab and 2-3 laurel leaves and add it to the dough .You can ommit butter and use olive oil instead.Artos is a Thanksgiving Bread Holy.Communion Bread – prosf(ph)oro-is a regular leavened bread wthout oil or butter and is sealed with the wooden seal meaning:ΙΣΧΣΝΙΚΑ= Jesus Christ Wins,ΜΡΘΟΥ =Mother of God and the nine triangles stand for the nine Angelic Orders. Happy Dormition Day and Peace!!!!!

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