Ancient Persian Pizza

How to Cook on a Shield Like a 600

BC Persian Soldier

By Sohla El-Waylly, History Channel


Pizza has been around for so long it’s impossible to pinpoint the exact origins. In this episode, Sohla El-Waylly tries to recreate one of the coolest ancient versions of pizza just how 6th century BCE Persian soldiers would have made it: on their shields!

Recipe for Nan-e Barbari:

For the dough:

  • 1 1/5 cups lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup beer yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt

For the glaze:

  • 2 teaspoons of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of water
  • For the toppings:
  • 1/2 cup of halloumi
  • 1/2 cup of dates


1. Mix all of the dough ingredients together until well combined into a sticky dough.

2. Knead the dough until it is a smooth, fairly soft dough.

3. Put the dough on a lightly oiled shield. Cover the shield with a towel & let the dough proof for 1 hour.

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Gently deflate the dough & divide it into two pieces. Shape the pieces into a rough log about 9” long. Tent with a damp cloth and proof for another 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 450 F.

6. Combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.

7. Once boiling, continue cooking over medium heat stirring constantly until the glaze thickens & coats the spoon – around a minute.

8. Remove the glaze from the heat and set aside to cool enough to handle.

9. Place the shield in the oven to preheat it.

10. Deflate the dough. Use your fingers to press 5 lengthwise grooves into the dough without cutting through the dough.

11. Spread the glaze on each dough, rubbing it all over.

12. Put the dough on the preheated shield. Bake for about 7-8 minutes.

13. Flip the dough, add the dates & halloumi. Bake for another 7-8 minutes.

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