It’s an Indian classic that has taken Western cuisine by storm! You can use it for everything from a scoop for savoury Asian Stews to a personal Pizza Crust.And it’s a lot easier to make than you might think. Heck, Indian cooks in small villages have baked it in clay ovens for thousands of years!
Naan is an indispensable part of any Indian dinner. It’s used as a scoop for Stews and a wrapper for Rice and Meat bites. It’s like Kimchee to Koreans. You have to have it on-the-side with… everything. You’ll find it a nifty all-purpose flat bread for sandwiches, a base for finger food nibbles and the aforementioned personal Pizzas plus a host of other applications you’d probably just use crappy old crackers for, otherwise.
What you need:
For the Yeast bloom
1 tsp. / 5 ml Sugar
1/2 cup / 125 ml warm Water or Milk
1/4 oz. / 6 ml Active Dry Yeast
For the Flour mixture:
2 cups / 500 ml All-purpose Flour
1/2 cup / 125 ml Plain Yogurt
1 tbsp. / 15 ml Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. / 5 ml Salt
3 tbsp / 45 ml melted salted butter, to finish
2 Green Onions, sliced thinly on the bias, for garnish
What you do:
First, mix the yeast and sugar with the warm Water or Milk. Stir briskly with a fork for a few seconds to dissolve the yeast. Set in a warm place and allow the year to bloom (form a foamy top). This may take as little as 5 minutes or as much as 10 minutes, depending on how fresh your yeast is and how warn the resting place is.
Meanwhile, combine the Flour and Salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to distribute the Salt evenly.
Then, add the Yeast mixture, the Yogurt and the tbsp. / 15 ml of Oil and stir slowly with the handle of a large wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed and all the ingredients are thoroughly combined with each other.
Now, knead until the Dough becomes smooth and slightly shiny, like good bread dough.
Form the Dough into a ball and let it rest under a damp towel in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This may take as little as 30 minutes or as much as an hour.
Divide the Dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each one out about 1/4 in. / 1 cm thick and as round as you can make it. Don’t worry, Naan traditionally has more of an oval shape and can have irregularities as well!
Fry on a hot, dry, seasoned frying pan or grill pan for a minute or so, until dark brown spots appear on the underside and the top begins to bubble. Turn with tongs and cook another couple of minutes until the same brown spots begin to form on the second side.
To serve, brush with the Melted Butter, if you wish, and sprinkle with the Green Onions. Serve HOT!
The Yogurt may sound like a funny ingredient to put into Bread but, believe me, it is what makes really superior Naan the delight that it is!
You can freeze the Naan just like you do other Breads and Rolls. I usually make a double or triple batch and freeze most of it. Stack the Naans between pieces of parchment paper to ensure that they remain separate in the Freezer. Take out only as many as you need at a time.
I’ve made Naan with Olive Oil and I like the added, fruity flavour. The method does not change.
There’s nothing stopping you from adding spices and herbs to your Naan Dough, either – well, maybe tradition! – but in the end, it’s up to you!
Make this Indian staple your own!
~ Maggie J.