Monday, January 16, 2012

Purgach (Shepherd's Bread)

June, 2002--my graduation from the engineering department of Hacettepe University. Everyone was hurling their caps into the sky. As for me, I was overcome with laughter, and it never even crossed my mind that a day would come when I would despise my working life. With what passion I threw myself into my job! At 7:30 in the morning on those cold days of sleet and snow when everyone was stuck in traffic on the bridges and roads, I would be at the office door ready to go.
I worked. How I worked! Even when going through the bird flu or the swine flu, I never once considered calling in sick. But after ten years of working like this, I never saw even two stones from those long years of stacking stones one on top of the other—a way of saying, I suppose, that nothing real came of all that trouble.  And so I sold the Ferrari, so to speak, and started working on this blog. I delegated myself the task of recording, documenting, photographing, filming, and sharing the countless recipes that make up the rich food heritage of the Kurdish people from which I sprung, just as the cuisine of the world’s other magnificent peoples’ has been recorded and preserved. And today I am sharing one more delicious result of this self-appointed task! This pastry is called purgach. It’s a hearty, tasty and easy bread made in the Northern region of Kurdistan. One day you’ll find us offering it to our guests, another day packing it in our saddle bags and hitting the road.
In the period when there were no electric ovens or stoves (and I am talking about only fifteen to twenty years ago--recently, in other words), parxaç was cooked like this. A fire was reduced to coals in the rojing, the name we gave to the hearth, and then the coals were swept toward the walls of the stove and the floor of the hearth blown clean. The parxaç dough was spread out on the hearth floor without being placed in a tray, and then covered with a black wok-like pan called a sêl.The coals on the sides were then spread back over this wok-like pan and the parxaç was cooked with the heat of these coals. The flavor and scent that the ash gave to the bread was out of this world and really worked up your appetite.
I am sure you will love this recipe and you can watch the preparation here in the video below, accompanied by one of my favorite songs, Beser Shahin’s ‘Halbuko’.


        · 8 ½ cups of flour (1.1 kg or 2 1/3 pounds)
        ·   1 soup bowl of Greek yogurt (about 1 ¾  cups or 400 g)
        ·  1 teaspoon salt (15-20 g)
        · 3 eggs
        · 300 grams of margarine (about 2 ½ sticks)


        1.            Whip the yogurt, egg, and salt together.
2.            Pour the flour into a wide, deep pan. Pour the egg and yogurt mixture over the top of the flour and start kneading with your hands.
3.            In a pan, melt the butter and then pour it over the dough. Continue kneading until the dough attains a slight firmness. Spread the dough in an oiled pan about 24 inches (35cm) wide. Poke holes in the surface with your pointer finger at intervals of about 2 inches (5 cm).
4.            Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celcius) for ten minutes,then slide the pan into the oven. Bake for fifty minutes. Let it rest in the oven for another 10 minutes to let the dough set.

Slice it up as you like and bon appetit! Don’t forget to offer some to your guests!


  1. Delal, this Jeff. Jessica's mom made pirgac in Florida and sent me a picture!!/photo.php?fbid=2805324526948&set=at.2032355203198.2109071.1073675839.561156398&type=1&theater

  2. Do you know if this is sometimes called "keti"? or if there is another Kurdish bread called keti?
    Looks amazing and quite similar to something I tasted in NE Turkey.

  3. Can I use butter or oil instead of margarine?