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Lijiang “Baba” Filled Flatbreads Recipe

Make this delicious Lijiang classic, a flatbread called baba. Although, it’s typically served for breakfast, this dish is perfect for any meal.

| April 2019

baba-filled-flatbreads 

Lijiang’s most famous food is a flatbread known as baba. But baba, which is served as a hearty breakfast, is a type of food, not a specific recipe. The baba found in Lijiang Old Town and the surrounding plain range from thin, fried flatbreads served as part of a larger meal to thick disks filled with layers of minced ham, flavored with a thick paste made from rendered lard, and fried in oil.

This simple but hearty version—a thick bread filled with layers of meat or nuts and cooked on a flat griddle with only a minimum amount of oil—is inspired by the one made by Xi He, a Naxi woman who has been selling her baba from a small table on the streets of Old Town for fifteen years. Like most cooks in Lijiang, Xi uses a bit of the previous day’s dough as a starter, and over the years, her baba has developed a complex flavor, similar to a mild sourdough. This version is leavened with yeast but has a small amount of yogurt worked in to give it a more complex flavor. It can be filled with salty ham or a mixture of flavorful beef and scallions, as are Xi’s popular baba, or with a sweet combination of nuts and sugar that is also popular in the area. Makes four baba.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup pastry flour
  • Beef, ham, or nut and sugar filling
  • Chile sauce (lajiao jiang) (optional)
  • Vegetable oil, for cooking

Equipment

  • Dumpling rolling pin or wooden dowel

Directions

1.) In a large bowl, mix the yogurt and yeast with 1-3/4 cups of lukewarm water and stir until the yeast is dissolved and the liquid is well-mixed.



2.) Add 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and stir until everything is incorporated into a sticky mass.

3.) Let the dough rest in a warm place, covered with plastic wrap, for 1 hour.






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