Written by Etan Basseri

Persian Passover

exist Persian Passover, New picture book by Etan Basseri and illustrations by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Kalaniot Books, March 2022), Ezra and his sister Roza bake their matzah in the synagogue yard, but you can bake your own matzah in the kitchen!

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Publisher Notes: Ezra and Rosa are helping prepare for their Passover celebration. Ezra is proud to be responsible for bringing his family’s flour to the synagogue, where it is baked into matzo in a traditional wood-fired oven. But when Ezra makes a mistake and the matzo is ruined, what will he and his sister Rosa do? Experience the sights, smells, sounds and unique traditions of a 1950s Iranian seder with siblings.

by Ethan Basseri

Anyway, what are unleavened bread?

Unleavened bread is the bread that Jews eat during Passover in the spring. Passover is a holiday celebrating the escape of the Jewish ancestors, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt many years ago. They were in a hurry to leave, too late for the bread to rise. Today, Jews eat matzah, a matzah, to commemorate the journey of their ancestors.

Before we start making matzo, let’s look at the science of bread.

Most breads have five basic ingredients:



hot water



Believe it or not, the first ingredient on the list, yeast, is actually alive. Yeast is a fungus (yes, like mushrooms!). Just like people, yeast needs food to survive. Yeast’s favorite food is sugar with a little warm water.

When yeast feeds on the sugar and water we put in the mixing bowl, it also breaks down some of the flour and converts it into sugar.

When yeast eats a perfectly flavored sugar dinner, it slowly begins to release a gas called carbon dioxide. This process is called fermentation. As the gas is released, it creates a small amount of air bubbles in the dough, so the bread expands.

But wait! Passover unleavened bread is flat, not raised. How does this work?

Because the Israelites’ bread didn’t have time to leaven before they needed a quick escape from Egypt, we ensured that the unleavened bread we eat today will also not leaven either. We don’t use yeast and we make sure there’s only 18 minutes between mixing the ingredients and taking it out of the oven.

Get ready, get ready, start! Find your adult helper – it’s an 18-minute baking competition.

How to Make Passover Unleavened Bread

raw material:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Set a timer for 18 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425°F and place an ungreased, empty baking pan inside.
  3. Mix flour and salt.
  4. Gradually add warm water.
  5. Knead the mixture by hand on a flat surface for about 3 minutes or until a smooth dough is obtained. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour.
  6. Divide the dough into 4 equal balls and use a rolling pin to roll them into very thin discs. When you handle the dough, make sure your hands and your work surface are lightly floured to keep things from sticking together.
  7. Poke the thin disc with a fork (5-6 times at a time) so that the holes go all the way through the dough. This will help you bake matzo cakes faster.
  8. Place the disc on a sheet of parchment parchment paper on a preheated baking sheet.
  9. Bake for 3 minutes on one side.
  10. Flip the disc and bake for an additional 3 minutes, until the matzo is browned and crispy.

Pooh! Did you finish on time? Then you’re ready for the Passover seder.

As with any baking project, always ask an adult for help.

IllustratorRashin Kheiriyeh

art from Persian Passover By Etan Basseri, published by Kalaniot Book, March 2022. Illustration copyright Rashin Kheiriyeh

Ethan Basseri Born and raised in Berkeley, California, with a mix of Persian and Ashkenazi Jewish customs. He now lives in Seattle with his wife and kids, where he’s always in charge of making Passover charoset. This is his first book.

lack of kindness is an internationally recognized award-winning illustrator, author and animator, with more than 80 children’s books published and the recipient of 50 national and international awards, including the 2021 Hilla Barry Canadian Picture Book of the Year, Sendak Scholarship and the Bologna Book Fair New Horizons Award. She holds an MA in Graphic Design and a PhD in Illustration and is a lecturer in the Department of Art at the University of Maryland. She lives in Washington DC.

How to Make Passover Unleavened Bread (from Persian Passover)

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