Battaw, also known as Qidy, is considered one of the very popular breads in Upper Egypt. It is soft, and should be consumed within two days maximum from its baking.

Its main components are similar to most other Egyptian traditional bread like flour (usually corn or barely, and sometimes fenugreek is added), water, yeast, and salt, but with the addition of oil, garlic, and sugar. These last three ingredients are used to speed up the fermentation process and ands a distinct aroma to the bread.

Process of making it:

  1. Al Hadq: Water is added to yeast, along with sugar, oil, salt, and two garlic cloves. Flour is also added at this process.
  2. Al-Takhmeer (Leaving the dough to rise): After the ingredients are mixed well together, the mixture would be covered with a clean cloth, and left for hours. This process is also called “Tarbeyet al-Khameera” (Creating the yeast).
  3. Re-fermenting: The yeast is remixed, moved to a larger container, more flour is added and mixed with little water, and then left one more time to ferment.
  4. Al-‘Agn (Kneading): Flour is mixed with the ready yeast and some water, and the mixture is pressed together.
  5. Al-Tasweyah (Baking): The bread is poured at the base of the oven using Sababah (literary means “a pourer”, which is a ladle with wooden handle, and sometimes substituted with a round box made from wood or tin with a handle. Mehsas is also handy in measurements, as it ensures all the bread oafs are equal in size). It quickly bakes, and is brought out of the oven using Mehsas (An iron rod with a curved tip) and put in a wicker plate.

In order to preserve this bread longer, it is broken down in two or four pieces, and re introduced to the oven at lower temperature and a longer time. This allows all the water to evaporate from the bread making it last longer. The bread in this case is called Zallout. The bread making is the responsibility of the women of the house with the help of children, and is frowned upon when made by men. Women usually gather to make this bread, taking this opportunity to chit chat.

Darwish al-Assyouty, Upper Egyptians’ food, a study about types of traditional food and nutrition in middle Upper Egypt. Folklore studies series, General Organization of Cultural Palaces.
Samih Abd al-Ghaffar Sha’lan, Customs and traditions related to bread as an indicator for cultural zones: A field study in some villages in delta, PHD thesis, supervised by Aliaa Shoukry, Safwat Kamal, Hasan al-Kholy , Cairo 1997, p. 447, Academy of Arts