June is here and I hate to say it but so far, I don’t think I’ve been coping terribly well with the stress of the year. I am by no means a negative Nelly and shall not paint 2024 as an ‘Annus Horribilus’ by any stretch of the imagination but as daily life goes, I’ve felt a little squeezed this year.

I get the feeling that many of us are feeling a similar way and perhaps this is somewhat because this is the first year since before the pandemic that actually feels totally normally and perhaps busier than ever before.

So what is the cure to this kind of chaos? How do we strike a balance between needing to work harder than ever before, just to pay the bills and cope with the rising cost of living and actual holding onto some shred of sanity before it all falls apart? The truth is, dear reader, I do not know. I’m fairly sure I would be Yorkshire’s answer to the Dalai Lama if I did and well, very few of us have the capability of striking a true balance in life. “Peaks and troughs my dear, peaks and troughs!” I hear this Hyacinth Bucket (Its bou-quetttttt) shrill voice in my head saying those words sometimes when I feel a little overwhelmed and it reminds me that acceptance is sometimes more valuable than change.

But as a stubborn Capricorn, I have always strived for perfection. Yes, it is tiring and high overrated to be this way but it is a curse of my persona that I can’t shake off no matter how hard I’ve tried.

The one thing I’ve realised in my time on this earth is that it is often the smallest things that bring the greatest pleasure. The smell of fresh coffee or toast, a little gentle stroll in the outdoors, a nice hot bath or a really well-made cup of tea… all wonderfully restorative and minimal effort.

In my case, cooking without pressure does uplift me a great deal and nothing makes me happier than a successful bake; usually because I’m not a naturally gifted baker but I have worked hard to write the simplest, most straightforward, paired-down recipes that need no special equipment and instill confidence to all.

One such recipe is this beautiful Persian flatbread called Naan Barbari. It really is ridiculously simple and you need ZERO baking experience or skills to make it and best of all? You only need to knead it for a few minutes and you can make it any shape you like. It’s the kind of doughy therapy you didn’t know you needed and nothing ever tastes better than freshly baked bread you made yourself.

So whatever you need to do for the last half of the year to restore (some of) your sanity, do it. It is well worth the investment and given the fact that we are all intelligent human beings, we all know what we need to do to look after ourselves but sometimes life gets in the way and we need a gentle reminder and ‘gentle’ is the key word here… so be gentle to yourself and bake yourself happy, for now

Persian Flatbread

Naan Barbari

This bread has a lovely pillowy texture, with the added nuttiness of nigella seeds – perfect for dips and mopping up sauces. I’m often put off by bread recipes that require machinery, but expert baker Dan Lepard once gave me a tip for easy kneading which I now use to make almost all my breads, and they are always successful and wonderfully light.


1 x 7g (1/6 oz) sachet fast-action

dried yeast

500ml (18fl oz) warm water

700g (1lb 9oz) strong white bread flour

2 tbsp sea salt flakes

75ml (2¾fl oz) olive oil

50g (1¾oz) butter, melted

Nigella seeds, to scatter on top (or use sesame seeds)

Stir the yeast into 50ml (2fl oz) of the warm water, then allow it to sit for a few minutes until it has dissolved.

In a large bowl, combine the flour and sea salt flakes, then make a well in the centre.

Pour in the remaining warm water, 50ml (2fl oz) of the olive oil and the yeast dissolved in water and combine using your hands until you have a smooth dough. If the dough is a bit too sticky, just add a little extra flour and, if it is dry, an additional splash of warm water.

On a clean, floured surface, knead the dough for 5 minutes to activate the yeast and stretch the glutens within it. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes before kneading it again for 2 minutes. Repeat this process another 3 times and, on the second, incorporate the remaining 25ml (¾fl oz) live oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave it to rest for 3 hours.

Once the resting period is over, the dough will have tripled in size. Elongate the dough ball gently by stretching it from both ends and then cut the dough in half. To form the correct shape for the bread, you will need to stretch each piece of dough into a long flat shape, about 40cm (16in) long. Place each shaped piece of dough on a baking sheet lined with nonstick baking paper.

Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, make 2 lengthways incisions 5–8cm (2–3¼in) away from each end.

Finally, cover each baking sheet with clean tea towels and leave the dough somewhere warm for a further 30 minutes to allow it to rise.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Once the loaves have risen, brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Bake for 16–18 minutes, or until golden brown.

The best way to check if they are cooked through is to tap them with cutlery – they should sound hollow.

Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before serving.

From Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour

Great British Life: Persiana by Sabrina GhayourPersiana by Sabrina Ghayour