The Palestinian Taboun



Taboun or the clay oven is one of the most important icons of the Palestinian heritage and is used in many houses, especially in the countryside where bread is made and known for its delicious taste.

The use of tabun as a baking oven back to more than two thousand years, specifically the late Byzantine period, according to researcher and archaeologist Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Fattah.

What is the construction of Taboun and how is it built?

Taboun is mainly a small room with a low ceiling that contains a fireplace, and has a small entrance to keep the heat inside; the fireplace itself is also called a ‘bread house’ or ‘a house of life’. Taboun is either Buried in the ground, or it can be moved from one place to another. And it is made of yellow clay mixed with hay with a diameter between 80-100 cm and a depth of about 40 cm, while the hole in the middle has a diameter between 40-50 cm.

The whole cover is made of iron, and the bottom of the Taboun is covered with black basalt stones, which are small, round and separate from each other, called “tender stones or Radif”, the purpose of these stones is to increase the heat and maintain it for a longer time due to its slow glow.

Palestinians enjoy Taboon bread especially when it comes right out of the oven. This type of bread has become an authentic image of the Palestinian heritage, which Palestinians adhered to in order to preserve something of their identity. “Taboun has a scene that brings back the beautiful days to our memories, and some still hold on to them. On winter days, when I start baking it gets warm inside the room so the kids gather and play near here. It really reminds me of the old days where myths and stories were woven and formed their existence as popular proverbs and social values,” Nada Abu-Than said, a 60-year-old woman who has been using Taboun since she was really young.  

Other uses for Taboun

The Palestinian expert adds that the uses of tabun have expanded these days, as it is made in it, which is bread with oil, chicken is placed in it for the purpose of grilling, and grape leaves and trays (meat and poultry with vegetables) and various types of pastries are cooked in it.

The Taboun oven is not limited to baking bread but is also used to grill potatoes, onions, and chicken. The interior of the Taboun is used for baking, cooking (trays and pots), and grill (eggplant), and roasting (coffee beans). While the outer wall is covered with ash (housing), is used for grilling Potatoes, chestnuts, and oaks, and for “coaling” coal for use in the canon for heating. Noting that its quality is better than a baking oven and its cost is much lower than the cost of ordinary bread.

Despite the fact that many people prefer the easy way of baking or prefer buying readymade bread. Taboun bread is still the best and the healthiest option.

Great Taste, Smell, and Look

 A university student called Samar Swilih says that she bakes bread in Taboun oven before going to her university:. “the taste of Taboun bread is incomparable, and it’s not inexpensive, despite the burning of my fingers and suffocation that I suffer from the smell of smoke, but sitting in front of it is authentic rituals that we must not forget”.

The decline in the use of taboun

Unfortunately, Abdel-Fattah explains that the use of tabun in Palestine is declining. And is currently used on a small scale in the northern countryside of the West Bank, and slightly more extensively in the southern countryside.

Different types of Taboun bread are baked inside the Palestinian Taboun in Tulkarm Palestine.
Nada Abu-Than while baking bread using Taboun in her backyard in Ramallah Palestine


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